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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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We Need an Elected Senate

Belize Election 2020 should be historically significant if our electors (voters) insist that the candidates present themselves as committed, irrevocably, to a program of REFORM. What must this include?

Reform must include the curtailment of the power of the Prime Minister, for under the present constitutional arrangements he has legally dictatorial control of all the checks and balances, even of the most basic one —the Supreme Court. He controls the Judiciary through the appointment of the Chief Justice. However, in legalese it sounds as if the Governor General, an impartial Head of State does this, but in reality, he appoints whom the Prime Minister directs him to name after he has consulted with the Leader of the Opposition. This simply means that the PM tells the Leader of the Opposition whom he is appointing, whether he likes it or not. This is not a condemnation of how the Prime Minister has governed; he simply has taken what the Constitution has given him, and used it to bring about his program of what may be called by many “National Development”.

In practical daily life it is the courts that act to ensure the protection of all the rights of citizens. Therefore the head of that body of the Judiciary must be completely isolated from political influence by being free to do according to law and conscience. The Chief Justice should be appointed by an Elected Senate.

But… So… we need an elected Senate. Going into preparations for Election 2020 our nation must focus on what the Senate should look like. Here are some ideas to be improved upon:

(1) It should be a body of senior citizens — seventy and over.

(2) There will be 13 of them: 3 for the Belize District, 2 from each of the other 5 districts.

(3) They must be politically independent, non-party-card-carrying members of any political group.

(4) They must each be nominated by 200 electors in their district.

(5) Their election campaign will be completely financed by the public treasury —$5,000 for each. No organization, or person, including the media, shall donate any financing to the campaign of any senator.

(6) Senators will serve one 10-year term only and will not be eligible for any other term.

(7) The Elected Senate will vet and recommend the appointments of all the mentioned officers:

o The Chief Justice and all other judges of the Supreme Court.
o Chairman and all the members of the Integrity Commission.
o Chairman and all the members of the Public Service Commission.
o All Permanent Secretaries after the abolishment of the office of the CEO.
o All the members of the Elections and Boundaries Commission.
o The Contractor General.
o The Ombudsman.

Clearly, if we want GOOD GOVERNANCE that truly protects and promotes the COMMON GOOD, we must remove the above officers from under the control of the leading political person of the nation. The Elected Senate will provide the insulation long needed by our people.

To introduce and implement the measures that an Elected Senate shall provide, Constitutional amendments shall be necessary. Perhaps, then, provision should be made that the upcoming 2020 election would provide that it be a Referendum of the People empowering a simple majority to affect the amendments needed.

At any rate, going into Election 2020, the electors, the voters, should emphatically make the political parties know that meaningful reform is required and the Nation will accept no less!

Belize has been its own master for 38 years. Has the quality of life improved? Do concrete buildings, whether owned by us or foreigners, do they really contribute to a more peaceful, fulfilling life? There was a time when humble people, and even our leaders, could safely walk anywhere in Belize without fearing for their safety. How many of our politicians live in their own division?

Mr. Price, the Founder of the Nation, would walk anywhere day or night. Oh how I wish the present leader would return us to the spirit of their original founders. These men would walk the streets and stay in touch with humble people. Ordinary people would be invited to their table instead of being sent away instructed by a guard “to see me at my office.” In a democracy, when leaders become fear-filled and withdrawn, it is a sure sign that they don’t represent the Common Man.

At this time, we would like to be upbeat and optimistic and confine critical comments to a bare minimum. My minimum is to suggest that instead of spending 1 million dollars on Christmas treats for voters, this money should have been allocated for grants to people with catastrophic illnesses. It costs hundreds of dollars to get cancer treatment and kidney dialysis. A lot of people could have benefited from grants for chemotherapy and radiation treatment. And we serve the COMMON GOOD better by distributing grants equally to all political entities.

We really need to return power to the people!

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