HomeLettersChance to overhaul calibre of elected officials

Chance to overhaul calibre of elected officials

PARDON me for asking but do you know your councillor, MP or senator? I do not! These are the people who purport to represent us, passing legislation and by-laws that determine how we are supposed to be ruled. We are guilty of voting them into office. Such is the folly of our current electoral process.

I am not a firm believer in one-man-one vote — take for example the fact that my gardener at the back of my yard has the same one vote as I do to choose who shall be our city councillor. Surely as a nation we need to set minimum criteria that will help us elect more suitable candidates that are, at least on paper, capable to better serve us.

I applaud the on-going constitution-making process — here is our chance to do something to try and improve the calibre of our elected office-bearers at local and national government level. I wish to see the constitution stipulate stringent minimum criteria on who should be eligible to run for public office.
We should know who is running for which office and not be forced to vote on a partisan basis. The electoral rules must require each aspiring candidate to publish a resumé giving a profile of the candidate: name, age, gender, marital status, family, religion, educational and professional qualifications, employment record and status, property ownership and other credentials that may help us decide. I would prefer to see someone who can convince me that they have a proven track record of success in their own life so that I can entrust my local and national affairs to them.

I do not believe anyone below 40 years of age is mature enough for public office. In the global village we live in, we must have adequately-educated legislators that are able to articulate sophisticated issues and situations at any level, be it locally, at the African parliament or at any other forum. With the level of education in this country, I would suggest a minimum of a two-year tertiary qualification at national or international diploma level. Someone who does not even own his house may end up taking over council houses from bona fide sitting tenants. Success in business, in the community, etc should be a bonus for any candidate.

There must be provision for the electorate to communicate at any time with an elected official. This will allow for essential intercourse whereby people articulate the concerns they want addressed at council level, in parliament, the senate, or cabinet. In this age of information communication technology each elected official should have a web page, Facebook or Twitter address, ideally hosted by council or government, to facilitate the dialogue.

Bern Musa

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