Election is not democracy. Whether in Europe, America or Africa, it is the voter, not the politician who has the supreme power to make democracy work. In the hands of Liberian voters this Saturday, a ‘SECRET’ ballot becomes the lifeline for your country and children’s future-don’t throw your future away! In order to make the 2014 special elections special Liberian voters must vote for ideas, not individuals-ideas that enrich our country, not enrich yourself or the politicians. I submit a four point guideline for candidates and voters, powerful enough to end corruption and abject poverty and unleash equal opportunities and guaranteed security for all citizens. Sign up National Citizens Initiative Registry for voters and candidates committed to public service and democracy. Full Name, Voter #, District and County (Use SMS text0775718065 or 0886437462)
Article one of the constitution of Liberia is crystal clear and unambiguous about who is the boss and who is the servant in Liberia: "All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require." In Liberia, the government exists primarily to enrich politicians, their friends and family. No elections, no constitution and no politician can change this sad narrative-Only voters can change this. National Citizens Initiative Registry is uniting voters for systemic change rooted in four core democratic ideas:
Idea #1: The people have supreme power-the people must exercise their power. The constitutional supreme powers of citizens in a democracy is no power at all until there is a provision by law for the people to exercise the same power they loan to their servants and representatives. "A servant cannot be greater than the master." The power to make laws is derived from the people. Therefore the people have a right to also make laws through citizens’ initiatives, without the permission or approval of their elected public servants, representatives or the presidency.
Idea #2: The people are the boss and the politicians are the public servants. Therefore, the people, not the politician must determine the salaries and benefits of their servants, consistent with the per capita income of the constituency tied to infliction. Politicians of the impoverished country of Liberia with a far lower cost of living get more in terms of salaries and benefits than politicians in Europe and America, places with higher national budgets and higher cost of living. For example, the budget for the Speaker in poverty-stricken Liberia is over a million dollars. Compare his million dollars budget to $62,000.00 yearly salary of a Massachusetts lawmaker in a state with $36 billion dollars yearly budget. Wow, government for the politicians!
It is the boss or owner of a shop, not the employee who normally sets the salaries and benefits for employees. Citizens, not their public servants must reserve the right and power to set the salaries and benefits of their public servants.
Idea #3 Neutrality of religion and ethnicity in citizens’ initiatives. Religion, tribalism and sectionalism cannot be used in any citizens’ initiative.
Idea #4: The strategy for sustainable development must have its origin and roots in equality of opportunities for the people and universal access to public policy formulation and decision-making.
In a country where over 75% of the parents make all the educational decisions for their own children and also work to pay the cost of education for majority of the students in the country, it is criminal to exclude illiterate parents from prominent roles in education policy formulation and decisions simply because of their illiteracy. Aristocracy, not democracy restricts leadership to the ruling elite. Democracy on the other hand is primarily about citizenship, equality of opportunities and inalienable rights as human beings. If a country desires an educated electorate, it must build its institution; not exclude citizens from top decision-making position because of the lack of foreign university degrees.
Reliance on foreign university degrees to fill top government posts and the accompanying corruption and plunder of national resources is a failed and unjustifiable strategy used by the British, French, German, Belgian during the colonial era and most post-independence African countries including Liberia. Just like the colonial era, western qualifications of top government appointees have never translated into literacy, democracy, justice and equal opportunities for most citizens in Africa. Citizens must use the ballot to completely change the corrupt system and put in place a different system that works for the people, not the politician.
There are countries in our world that guarantee security and equal opportunities for their citizens while at the same time making sure their public servants serve in the public interest. Citizens’ Initiative has made this possible in the European Union, Switzerland and the United States of America.
In your hands and in these special elections you have the power to end corruption and put the citizen in charge by voting for these four ideas and joining other democrats for systemic change in Africa, beginning with Liberia.
Torli H. Krua is founder of the Universal Human Rights International (UHRI). UHRI promotes democracy through ballot initiatives in Africa and immigrants rights in America. Please contact Krua at:8572499983 or [email protected]. All comments are welcomed.