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Nov 10, 2016

13th Senator Must Be Political, But Not Partisan

Froyla Tzalam

Among the criteria listed for the future N.G.O. Senator are some expected requirements – being a Belizean and being familiar with N.G.O. issues, among others. But two in the list that appeared to be contradictory are part “E,” which requires, quote, “prior knowledge of legislative, constitutional issues as well as matters affecting N.G.O.’s would be an asset;” and part G, which requires the future senator not to have been a candidate or hold an executive post within any political party, nor be a partisan political activist overtly involved in getting a party or candidate elected. Tzalam explained that one can be political without being partisan, and that the future legislator will be held to a higher standard than his fellows.

 

On the Phone: Froyla Tzalam, Media Relations Officer, 13th Senator Steering Committee

“I think it is a recognition that Belize is quite a small country and it would be very difficult to find someone who has not been involved at whatever level in any of the political processes that we have outlined there. And if you notice, that we also have to be mindful that as an N.G.O. community that we are as transparent and accountable to one another as possible, and we felt strongly that politics can create a barrier. So rather than deal with that after we elect somebody, we want it to be quite clear that the level that we have in terms of accountability and transparency perhaps will be higher than the requirement for other Senators, because we are mindful that it is – basically, having a Senator means that we are involved in the political process of the country, in how our country is governed. But that is not to say that we have to participate at that level; we are basically putting a higher bar to our involvement.”

 

Reporter

“But at the same time though, you ask that prior knowledge of legislative, constitutional issues as well as matters affecting N.G.O.’s would be an asset. To do that, you would have to have some kind of – not party political – but political experience, would you not?”

 

On the Phone: Froyla Tzalam

“No. I don’t see how the two are connected. Having a knowledge of N.G.O. issues does not mean you necessarily have to be overtly – if you look at the word, you say overtly – and I think that’s clear because all of us, to a certain extent are involved at the political level; but whether that political level can be described as partisan not is very clear there.”

 

Tzalam told us that to avoid the mistakes of the Churches and trade unions in handling discussions about legislation that got Ray Davis and later Pastor Ashley Rocke in trouble, the eventual nominee and the organizations will go over their policies thoroughly. Nominations will be taken until January third, 2017, with an official election scheduled for a week later on January tenth. The final approval goes to the Governor General, who does the actual appointing, on or by January seventeenth. Like the other Senators and barring any unforeseen circumstances, the thirteenth Senator will serve until the entire National Assembly is dissolved for general elections.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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