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Home | March 2013 Please tell us what you think of this article. Tell a friend Print Friendly

St Helena : ST. HELENA: CONSTITUTIONAL POLL
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Public Relations Information Office) 23.03.2013 (Article Archived on 20.04.2013)

The Constitution consultation document, ‘Improving Democracy and Accountability’ (which can be viewed on the SHG website on the homepage www.sainthelena.gov.sh), explains that experience of operating the current Council system has encountered practical problems. The problems described in the document can be partially resolved by restoring the direct lines of accountability between Committee Chairmen and Executive Council, reverting to the situation which existed before 2009.

ST. HELENA: CONSTITUTIONAL POLL


 


The Constitution consultation document, ‘Improving Democracy and Accountability’ (which can be viewed on the SHG website on the homepage www.sainthelena.gov.sh), explains that experience of operating the current Council system has encountered practical problems. The problems described in the document can be partially resolved by restoring the direct lines of accountability between Committee Chairmen and Executive Council, reverting to the situation which existed before 2009.


 


Chief Councillor


 


The idea of appointing a Chief Councillor is not new. It was first proposed by the St Helena Constitutional Commission which was established in 1999 to review the 1988 Constitution. That Commission recommended that:-


 


“A Chief Councillor should be elected by the elected members of the Legislative Council and on appointment should be required to nominate the required number of further elected members to serve with him/her as Chairpersons/Executive Councillors”.


 


In order to establish if the office of Chief Councilor should be implemented in the current St Helena Constitution, a Constitutional Poll will be held on Saturday, 23 March from 12 noon to 6pm at the various Community Centres/venues that are normally used for elections - Blue Hill, Sandy Bay, Kingshurst, Half Tree Hollow, Jamestown, Levelwood and Harford Community Centres and Judges Lodge (subject to it being vacant at the time).


 


It is proposed in ‘Improving Democracy and Accountability’ to appoint a Chief Councillor, as the Commission recommended. The Legislative Council, and the public, would then be able to identify one Councillor and say to him or her: ‘The buck stops with you’.


 


Neither he nor she, individually, nor the Executive Council as a whole, could dictate the direction of Government Business. They would need to lead in such a way as to carry with them the support of the Legislative Council. In order to get any item of business passed by the Legislative Council, they would need to secure the support of at least two non-ExCo Members (thus achieving a 7:5 vote to support the motion).


 


He or she, and they, would be liable to be removed, at any time, by a Vote of No Confidence - so they would be (individually and collectively) accountable to the Legislative Council (and, through the Council, to the public).


 


Councillor Rodney Buckley encourages members of the public to anonymously vote “Yes” or “No” to Chief Councillor and the result would thus be generated by the people. Councillor Buckley, who is in favour of the Chief Councillor, commented “My three years on Council leaves me very clear that our Island urgently needs a new political mandate to take on the challengers that lie ahead. The fundamentals of good government must be conducive to Collective leadership; making best use of available skills and experiences; spreading the workload and distributing responsibility. None of these four basics are in place at this time - in my view, because there is no real political leadership. It is however critical for any changes to be backed by local and public ownership. Change will only succeed if it is led and tailored to our local circumstances and accountable to the people. Hence the reason for asking for a secret ballot.”


 


On the other hand, Councillor Brian Isaac gave his reason for opposing. “I am not against the office of Chief Councillor because Chief Councillor could bring leadership in the future. My reason for objecting the post of Chief Councillor at this time is because we have adopted the proposal to amend the Constitution which would allow for the office of Chief Councillor during a period of consultation. The majority of the public clearly indicated they were not in favour of the Chief Councillor during the consultation and I feel that we as Councillors should respect the views of the public. If we do not respect the views of the public in any amendments or changes put forward to the public for the future of St Helena, then I am afraid we are not doing justice to the public.”


Have your say - persons on the Register of Electors published on 18 September 2012 and those who have since applied and whose names have been Gazetted as of now, will be eligible to vote on Saturday 23 March.


 


Further radio talks and reminders about the Poll will follow.


SHG


12 March 2013

 

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