Statement of mohamed ibn chambas, un special representative for west africa and the sahel, on the gambia
Jan 22, 2020, 3:30 PM
The move by the government to change the official government working days and hours came out of the blue. Naturally, it has generated a lot of reactions across the country.
The government press release said President Yahya Jammeh in consultation with Cabinet and giving due consideration to public demands has issued the executive decision to make the changes.
In any case, in recent weeks, we have seen the Government announce a new decision - just to go back and rescind it – we recall the decision on the operations of the forex market, and the latest was related to the buying and selling of groundnuts by our poor farmers.
We hope the same will not happen, in the next few weeks, since these all show undue haste, or not giving enough thought to issues before making crucial decisions, and a lack of sufficient consultations with all relevant stakeholders in these matters of great national importance.
Moreover, the Government claims that the decision was taken in response to public demand. Yet we are not aware of any public calls for such!
Indeed, in our view, not sufficient reasons or explanations have been advanced for the changes, and we are not convinced by the reasons given for the change, as stated in the government release.
In fact, to talk about Friday being a rest and prayer day, and in the same breathe talk about going back to the land – meaning it will be a day or opportunity for Gambians to do farming (itself very hard work) is a big contradiction!
What about the reference to Gambians having more time for “social activities”. We are aware that in some African countries, they have more days to go partying 24/7, and people spend all day partying and enjoying themselves all night long over the long week-ends.
Thus, we risk giving Gambians more time to engage in idleness and merry-making, instead of being absorbed in serious work – with Vision 2020 just seven years away.
Of course, there is a positive side too – the fact that the Government will be able to save expenditure on fuel for government vehicles and the misuse of government vehicles, which are seen all over the place, night and day, including weekends when government business is supposed to be on break.
Actually, when the new Government regulation for the public sector was announced on both GRTS radio and television, most people could not comprehend what the whole issue was about; hence they started to make calls here and there, just to make sure that what they heard was the right thing.
It is our position that the Office of the President should have done more consultations, beyond the Cabinet, and even involved the National Assembly, prior to making such important changes, which will have a big impact on the lives of Gambians and all persons resident in the country.
In fact, such a matter required a National Debate or Dialogue.
“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.”