Posted: Friday, February 8,2019. 9:57a.m. CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Dr. Gerald Zuniga: The notion that we have as voters that the leader of a political party that wins a general election is automatically the Prime Minister of our country Belize is a mere fallacy and if considered traditional or customary, it is unconstitutional. Being unconstitutional, the practice is “nulo ipse jure” or null and void.
Party leadership is a mere symbolic internal political party practice and doesn’t or shouldn’t translocate to become the Prime Minister of Belize when that party wins the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, if the stipulation of our Constitution is executed as is.
Art. 37-(1) of the Constitution of Belize states that “There shall be a Prime Minister of Belize who shall be appointed by the Governor General” and it continues in Paragraph (2) by saying “Whenever the Governor General has occasion to appoint a Prime Minister he shall appoint a member of the House of Representatives who is the leader of the political party which commands the support of the majority of the members of that House, and if no political party has an overall majority, he shall appoint a member of that House who appears to him likely to command the support of the majority of the members of that House.” Curiously, the paragraph of this Article mentioned “he” and “him” and our first Governor General was a female: Dame Minita Gordon. The feminist of today would say that our Constitution is machistic. For argument sake and valid inclusion, that wording of our Consititution should be reformed. So our Constitution as it is clear. It is only presumed that such Leader could and should become the Prime Minister of Belize. The Governor General exercising his or constitutional duty can give us a surprise, if the leader of the political party that wins, for x or y reason doesn’t have the support of the majority of the House. No doubt, our democracy is monarchic when the Governor General is in representatiion of Her Majesty the Queen. Now this provokes the question of sovereignty. Where does sovereignty in Belize lie? Is it really in the hands of the people? Our Constitution is clear.It lies in the hands of our Governor General. Is it exercised? You can answer this question. Shouldn’t we ask for a constitutional reform where we stipulate that sovereignty is in our hands as the people of our nation? IT IS IMPERATIVE. Shouldn’t we vote for our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister nationwide? This is a question that worths contemplating. I am of the notion that both should be voted for nationwide Is it legitimate when one becomes Prime Minister of Belize with 2000 votes and having Ministers with 7000 votes, for example? This needs to be revisted. This is also seen in local governments elections where Councilors get more votes than the Mayor. Who is more representative hence more legitimate? Shouldn’t we advocate for a more participatory and representative democracy? Remember, voting is not democracy. It is only a tool or vehicle used in democracy. And if you are induced and conduced to vote in a predetermined manner that totally undermines a democracy or a democratic process. Not only in democracies are elections held. Ask Maduro.
Neither is it that the Deputy Prime Minister is determined by votes within a political party. Art.38 of our Constitution states that “The Governor General shall in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, designate a Minister as Deputy Prime Minister to whom the Prime Minister may from to time depute such of his function as he may specify.” Remember, the Constitution is the supreme law of a nation and all other laws are ordinary laws which stem from the Constitution. Our Constitution is above or supercedes even International Public Law only superceded by Human Rights Law. Can an ordinary law be unconstitutional? Yes, it can.
The same in regards to the Leader of the Opposition. This is what our Constitution says in regards to the Leader of the Opposition in Art. 47(2). “Whenever there is occasion for a Leader of the Opposition the Governor General shall appoint the member of the House of Representatives who appears to him most likely to command the support of a majority of the members of the House who do not support the Government; or, if no member of the House appears to him to command such support, the member of the House who appears to him to command the support of the largest single group of members of the House who do not support the Government.’ So the notion that the Leader of the losing second majority in the House is automatically the Leader of the Opposition is also a fallacy. It has also become customary but it is unconstitutional. Curiously, the politicians should be the first to comply with our Constitution or legislate a constitutional reform which is in accordance with our customary practice since 1981 or in accordance with a more sovereign democractic practice. In a true democracy, sovereignty lies in the hands of the people whether it be by absolute or simple majority vote and their decision should be respected whether we like their decision or not; as long as the due process is followed or that the election was not rigged which unfortunately is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. The flourishing of rigged elections is based on human caprichousness but unfortunately they want to call it, democracy.
So the notion that the Leader of a political party and the Leader of the second majority political party is automatically the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition is a fallacy and unconstitutional. This has been the result of a customary practice and not necessarily abiding by our Constitution. It is our obligation as citizens to abide by our Constitution and avoid consitutional challenges which can nullify an action, disposition, agreement, treaty, or law and also be subjected to other legal actions since it is a grave offense to violate constitutional principles of a nation.
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