Listening should be part of the conversation of inclusion

Dear Editor,

“In the meantime, the coalition will probably have to accept that unity is just an empty word. What they should be striving for instead, perhaps, is fairness, integrity, consultation where possible.”

The above is extracted from SN’s measured editorial of June 1. It seeks to hoist the coalition on its own petard, if you will, of ‘Unity’, apropos of which has been the repetitive emphasis on ‘inclusionary governance’ of which ‘consultation’ must be a preeminent feature – a process that must necessarily involve the exchange of varying viewpoints based on mutual respect.

The attitude of respect neutralises the apparent differential in authority status of the individual parties to the conversation, and therefore eschews the expressed perception that one view is more or less informed than the other.

It means therefore that in the model of ‘inclusion’ more deliberate account is to be taken of views which may initially appear to be criticisms.

In the matters of governance, for example, it is axiomatic that its efficacy must be founded in the law. So that questions raised for example about substituting ‘Communities’ for such legal entities as a) Municipalities b) Districts c) Regions d) Neighbourhoods, all of which are established by legislation, are not necessarily ill-advised. It is perhaps even arguable that the institution of ‘Communities’ may require related legislation.

Indeed it is totally true, as reported in KN of May 30, that it is not a matter of “simply building houses or roads,” it is more a matter of managing the development of, and providing services to, the above identifiable areas. Indeed the law as currently stands requires that any ‘new communities’ will have to be accordingly designated.

The legitimacy of such organisational relationships should not be dismissed as unreasonable, particularly in the light of comparable structures elsewhere, and of reams of related literature.

Perhaps one other area of governance that invites review is that of ‘Public Health’ – well known to all involved locally, regionally and internationally (by such institutions such as PAHO and WHO for example) to be a special component of health. The Minister responsible should at least know that Public Health is but a specialist area of study in universities and related institutions.

When all is said and done hopefully a case has been made for listening as part of the conversation of inclusion.


Yours faithfully,
E B John

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