The government of Serbia sent the minister of defence and chief of general staff of the Serbian army to unseat the mayor of Uzice. The mayor of Uzice, however, has already resigned, six months ago. Six months ago, like today, his resignation was sought due to contamination in Uzice water supply system. The question as to why his resignation wasn’t accepted six months ago and why it is necessary for the minister of defence and chief of general staff to become involved in order to replace the person who had already offered his resignation – is beyond the scope of rational thinking. All of this becomes even more pointless if you keep in mind that the mayor is a member of the ruling SPP, that SPP is part of the majority coalition of Uzice local government, and that it would be enough for this majority to accept the resignation offered long ago.
However, it turns out that among other things SPP can’t handle water, whether the floods or drinking water. And when the threat of water arises, SPP calls for the army to save the day. And in such situations the ruling party generally behaves like a bull in a china shop. Of course, the precious china this party bull keeps breaking is only a metaphor for laws and constitution of Serbia. Because there are no legal or constitutional grounds for the national government to ask for a resignation of a head of local administration. By sending the minister of defence to change local government in Uzice, and him taking the chief of general staff (to hold his hand, I suppose), the government has broken the constitution and two laws: the Law on local government and the Law on ministries.
Article 12 of the Constitution clearly states that the state power is limited only by the right of the citizens to local self government and that it can supervise this citizens’ right only with regards of honoring the constitution and the laws. According to the law on local government, the national government can only dismiss local assembly, but only under clearly defined conditions, none of which were met in Uzice, but doesn’t have the right to replace and appoint local officials, except in a situation when it dismisses the assembly. Finally, according to the law on ministries, only the minister of agriculture and environment and minister of state administration and local government have the right to involve. And even they wouldn’t be allowed to ask for removal of local officials.
The minister of defence had as much right to go to Uzice as, for example, the minister of foreign affairs. But, he went there anyway, together with the chief of high command, and set demands he had no right to set. Why is it so hard for the state government to follow the laws and act reasonably once again, like with the floods? The extent of irrationality could be explained only as a consequence of some inexplicable fear – like the fear of water, for example. That fear of water, i.e. hydrophobia, is a symptom of rabies (which is why hydrophobia and rabies are often used as synonyms). It is not impossible that the government, with these inexplicable moves and excessive irritability, is trying to send us a message that it is “sick” and asking us to do something about it immediately.
Of course, hydrophobia is only a metaphor for uncontrolled political will that puts itself above the legal system it destroys. “Infection” is spreading from the center through the entire Serbia. In this political show with serious real consequences, chief of general staff was used only as decor: he was supposed to create an illusion of emergency state. The truth, however, is that the general’s uniform which was meant to “normalize” violent illegal behavior can’t hide a hopelessly incapable government. The scenery of future and potentially more serious crisis is emptying before the eyes of the citizens, and there only remain the prime minister with the government as his extended arm, the army and “the people” which should be protected – well known trinity we are once again slowly becoming used to, although we know from the recent experience that it leads straight into a disaster.
Translated by Marijana Simic
Dejan Ilić (1965, Zemun), urednik izdavačke kuće FABRIKA KNJIGA i časopisa REČ. Diplomirao je na Filološkom fakultetu u Beogradu, magistrirao na Programu za studije roda i kulture na Centralnoevropskom univerzitetu u Budimpešti i doktorirao na istom univerzitetu na Odseku za rodne studije. Objavio je zbirke eseja „Osam i po ogleda iz razumevanja“ (2008), „Tranziciona pravda i tumačenje književnosti: srpski primer“ (2011), „Škola za 'petparačke' priče: predlozi za drugačiji kurikulum“ (2016) i „Dva lica patriotizma“ (2016).