By Yankuba Jallow
Mai Ahmed Fatty, the outgoing party leader of the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) spoke to the press on Thursday 28th 2017, at the GMC’s main office in Fajara. Mr. Fatty was able to grant an interview to this reporter and these are some of those excerpts.
Foroyaa: How significant is the forthcoming Congress to you as the current GMC Leader?
Mai Fatty: It is a milestone because it is the first major political activity by a political party since the dawn of the new Gambia. GMC is the first political party to hold its Congress since the advent of President Adama Barrow. It is the first major political activity that will put a test to our new democracy and also a litmus test for the implementation of internal democracy. This political party (GMC) actually belongs to the people. It is meant for the people and we are only leaders selected or elected by people to lead them. My mandate expires at midnight, 29th of December 2017, and GMC will go into Congress the next day in order to elect a new leader. The Congress is very significant because it is going to cast a new pathway for our Party (GMC). It is going to be a game changer because for the first time in the history of our Party we will have representation from every part of the country, which will significantly demonstrate that our Party is a broad based mass political party, a movement that is meant for the people. We have seen that the Party is beefing up and teaming up with members all over the , and so what we are going to be witnessing is going to be internal democracy at work. We are going to see delegates from every part of this country making important decisions about the life of our Party and also making important decisions about who their leader is going to be. We will also be validating our amended Constitution that is already completely drafted and it is going to be in consonant with our new democratic aspirations. They (the delegates) are also going to validate and discuss the National Development Plans. As you all know GMC is part of the Coalition Government. So we do not have a manifesto specific for this part of the Congress up to the next year of the next Congress. The Manifesto of GMC is the manifesto that is been implemented by President Barrow’s Government because we are part of the Government and we are not in the opposition. We are also going to be discussing burning issues. There will be symposia, lectures, seminars and all this is geared towards expanding the democratic space and of course encouraging our membership to debate comprehensively as possible, the challenges that the country is facing, inspect the opportunities and then see what the future holds for the Gambia. So this is going to be a landmark event and we call on the whole country to come and witness, not only delegates but to come and take part in public programs because GMC is for the whole country and not just for its members. Of course the delegates have specific responsibilities but the rest of the country who are also citizens have a responsibility and duty to come and observe the process and participate in it because it is all about them. So this is very significant.
Foroyaa: You also intend to run as a candidate for the leadership of your party. How do you intend to handle the political situation cognizant of the new dispensation because political parties are coming up everywhere?
Mai Fatty: Although, that is very useful, it is rich for our democracy to have as many players as possible. It is only the citizens who will be better off. The more divergent views we have, the more political groupings we have, the more informed the citizens would be and the more empowered they will be. So I welcome that development. I see it as very positive. It is going to really be a measure of the success of Gambia’s democracy to have as many stakeholders as possible in the process and GMC will like to be part of that process as well. For us we feel it is a great opportunity for our country (Gambia) and we should all embrace or welcome the resurgence of the democratic attitude and consciousness among Gambians. I am definitely going to put up my candidature again for the position of national party chairman, party leader and it is up to the delegates because I understand that there are one or two other contestants. So I am really looking forward and I already started campaigning by telling delegates that ‘hey look, you know what, I think I am the better one’. Let me tell you that our process is going to be very different because every party member, every delegate has the power and authority to submit and present as a candidate for any position within the Party and all positions will be open and available. On that day when you submit yourself as a Candidate for any position, you will also have to canvass publicly in front of the delegates and justify your candidature. For example if you vie for the position of the national mobiliser, you will have to stand in front of the delegates and justify why you should be elected as the national mobiliser. You have to submit a program and you will have to answer questions from the delegates. So it is not a simple process where you raise your hands and they vote for you. You will have to go through a nomination process and the nomination process has been clearly outlined by the GMC Constitution which also outlined how the elections are to be conducted. We will also have external observers. Civil society will be invited to come and watch the entire nomination, campaign and the elections processes. So they will be the best judge whether we are going right or wrong. We have also invited the diplomatic community to also come and observe how the elections will be conducted. Beyond that, it is going to be streamed on the internet and the media will be there. It is going to be a very open process and for the first time we are going to be using ballot papers. GMC will use ballot papers to indicate the future. In fact if we could, we would have used the biometric system (finger printing system) but we haven’t got that yet. But at least we will be going to use the ballot system. The elections will be conducted in the open, counted in the open and the winner (s) will be declared in the open. Campaigning will be free and fair. Canvassing of votes will be done in a free and fair atmosphere and observed by the whole world. It is going to be the most fair and transparent process that the country will witness so far. We are going to be setting the base for others to learn from.
Foroyaa: Do you have the chance of making the next Government?
Mai Fatty: For the moment GMC is concerned about strengthening our party structures. That is where our focus is. We want to strengthen our Party. We are part of the Coalition Government but being part of the Coalition Government does not preclude us from strengthening our Party. They go together, because before the Coalition, GMC was in existence. The Coalition is a composition of different political parties. Other political parties are doing their political activities and nobody has a problem with that. Other political party heads are doing their political activities and nobody has a problem with that. I don’t think anybody should have a problem with GMC conducting its internal politics. This is fair. If anybody has a problem with that then that will be very disingenuous because other political parties are doing the same things we are doing and their leaders are involved in what our leaders are doing. So it is just a fair game. We do not expect people to have problem with that. Should there be political maturity, that should be ok but if political maturity is lacking of course there will be people who will pick it and use it as a source of friction among the Coalition leaders themselves. But for us, we are fully behind the Coalition Government and we will continue to strengthen our party to the fullest. We will not compromise on that. We are in the Coalition but will strengthen our Party and nothing will stop us from that.
Foroyaa: Is GMC going to be active in the new Gambia because it has not been active in the former regime?
Mai Fatty: Most political parties were not so active in the past regime including GMC but we have been players in the Process. For example GMC did a lot of campaigning when it was initially set up and we were involved in all meetings involving opposition parties in the old regime. We participated almost in all of the inter party meetings. We campaigned along with our colleagues in what was called GUC (Gambia United for Change). GMC was a member party in that. GMC also participate in a Coalition Alliance with UDP (United Democratic Party) in what was called the United Alliance in the 2011 elections and I myself I was on the ground. I campaigned along with the Honourable Ousainou Darboe who was our candidate at that time. So we have been very active. GMC was a member of the G6 of political parties that vigorously advocated and campaigned for comprehensive electoral reform. So we have been active as much as other political parties have been but in a different sense. We have not been dormant and when the Elections Act was amended that required parties to be fully national, GMC already has its offices in all of the seven Regions of the country. So we have been important players in the process but beyond that, GMC has been the most proactive political party with the most active and the most comprehensive diplomatic programmes in the Diaspora during the old regime. A great part of our strength is diplomacy which we still believe is our footing.
Foroyaa: Thank you for giving us your time.
Mai Fatty: Thank you very much.