By Kebba Jeffang reporting from Bansang, CRR South
The People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), from the 22 – 25 May, 2015 held a congress in Bansang, Central River Region South, to decide on the party’s strategies, tactics, structures and leadership ahead of the election cycle beginning in 2016.
Over three hundred and fifty delegates from all the administrative regions in the Gambia converged at the Bansang Youth Centre Hall where the four days event was held. Delegates comprised a large variety of all categories (men, women, youths, farmers, workers, intellectuals, etc.). They were vocal in putting their points across and debates were very lively.
The congress was climaxed by a political rally at the ‘Five Junction’ spot attended by thousands of people from Bansang and the satellite settlements. The PDOIS leadership was escorted to the rally grounds in the centre of the town in a colourful parade by young men and women in ecstasy walking on foot, riding on horses and motor bicycles from Sololo, a few kilometres away, amidst drumming and singing.
Speaking to the congress delegates, Mr. Sidia Jatta, Chair of the PDOIS Central Committee, described the convergence as a historic moment and a task for the party members to chart the course that the party will be treading towards achieving its goals of bringing about a third Republic ushering in the sovereignty of the people and assured them liberty, dignity and prosperity.
Mr Jatta said the task is to help found a political, civil, economic, social, cultural and ecological system aiming at the eradication of “all monarchical and patriarchal traditions which impede total ownership of power by the sovereign people and the exercise of that power by chosen representatives who would not carry out any other activity, economic or otherwise which undermines their undivided attention to matters of the state and the duty to ensure the freedom and prosperity of the people.”
Mr, Jatta said that to bring about such a leadership “requires a new type of citizen who is conscious of his or her ownership of power and is determined never to put in office leaders who would seize their sovereign power and utilise it for their own ends at the expense of the welfare of the people.”
Mr Jatta added that “the congress is a school for sovereign citizenship. There are no lecturers since we are all equal in citizenship and equal in this room. What we intend to do is to share and learn from each other.”
“After the Report of the Secretary General matters arising from it would be subjected to discussion. Furthermore discussants will lead us through debates on the party constitution, the Agenda for 2016 and other areas of party activity so that you would know how to position yourself.
“There is no need to wish you a successful deliberation. The Congress belongs to you. Your performance will make it a lasting experience worthy of being treasured. We have left many important things behind to be here. Let us make our presence a worthwhile venture.”
Mr. Jatta’s opening remarks was followed by the Report of the Secretary General and Secretary to the Political Bureau. He informed the gathering that the Report in English would be printed for the delegates and did his presentation in wollof and mandinka which was translated into fula, jola, sarahule and manjago.
This was followed by a review of the PDOIS constitution which was done in Mandinka and Wollof and translated into Fula, Serahule, Jola and Manjago.
In reviewing the constitution the Functions of the General Assembly of members, the Congress, the Central Committee, the Political Bureau, the Organising Bureau, the information Bureau, the Bureau On Women and Child Affairs, the Youth Bureau and the Bureau on International Affairs were explained with intermittent reports given by the secretaries of the various bureaus. The demise of the Secretary to the Bureau on International Affairs, Dr Omar Touray, was announced for the notice of the Congress leading to a minute silence.
Each Bureau made some recommendations. A motion was made for the adoption of the Constitution which was done unanimously.
Agenda 2016 was also reviewed by the Secretary General in wollof and mandinka and the review was translated into fula, jola, sarahule and manjago. It was unanimously adopted by the Congress as the manifesto of the Party for the 2016 -2018 electoral cycle.
The Congress finally considered all the recommendations of the Bureaus in particular and the delegates in general in the form of about a dozen resolutions.
A resolution called for the establishment of a representative youth wing which will include regional representation and gender consideration. Another resolution called for the establishment of a women’s wing that will also include regional representation. Those living with disability are to be represented in all the organs of the party
The resolutions touched on the impossibility of achieving Vision 2016 given that poverty makes them rely on crude tools and denies them access to inputs and fertiliser. The alternative policy opted for by PDOIS is to create schemes for family farms to access credits from a cooperative banking sector to enable them to purchase farm inputs and expand production and yield.
The resolution called for electoral reform, including a two four year term limit for the presidency, voting by paper ballot and the restoration of the second round of voting in a presidential election.
Foroyaa will publish the detailed reports and resolutions with pictorials in subsequent editions.