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It’s like the Coming of the Lord

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By the time this issue of the newspaper reaches the street we would have celebrated perhaps the most important Independence Anniversary since 1980.

This has nothing to do with the fact that it will be our 26th anniversary as an independent nation but more to do with the impending general elections.

This year we will all be celebrating Independence Day but for the wrong reasons. Speculation is rife that sometime on the weekend Dr. Gonsalves will make the announcement and there are many guesses as to the date. I anticipate that it will be in December mainly because most people are expecting it in November and the Comrade does not like anyone to second- guess him. {{more}}It seems clear to me that our goodly Prime Minister would not want to go past Christmas and face the prospect of another budget and of having to increase the price of gas with the repercussions that will follow, before the elections. But with our dear friend you never know.

During the last three months there has been a frenzy of activities. It is as if someone got the news that the Lord was coming and some of us therefore had to make peace with him/her and to make up for not having met our obligations to him/her in the past. I am not sure much productive and meaningful work would have taken place since then for the country and certainly the Civil Service was put into election gear and is probably stuck in gear. I must say that a lot of what is taking place is sheer madness.

We all seem to have forgotten our economic woes and are operating like a country in the developed world. Huge promises are being made and we are about to embark on a spending spree. I am sure that all sorts of goodies are going to be offered regardless of whether or not the country can afford them. Well we had better take it while we can get it for the year 2006 is not looking as though it is going to be a good one. We have to hope also that we do not have to pay for any excesses. After all it is really difficult to believe that this is a country that had a deficit budget last year.

Will these goodies be presented without parliamentary approval, for certainly we did not build these into the last budget that was presented to parliament?

When one sits back and thinks about the number of projects, large ones at that being talked about, we have to wonder. It is not only the cost of these projects and the funding arrangements and the inevitable debt, but one has to look beyond that at the cost of maintenance and at our slender human resources mandated to handle so many things at virtually the same time. It is as if we either have magicians, geniuses or mad people functioning among us.

One is tempted to laugh for there is a lot of humour involved but it is a serious state of affairs because the livelihood of our people is at stake. I have not been hearing very much about the mighty Cross Country Road. It might be that I am simply out of touch or is it that the International airport is taking up much of our time? This in fact should not be a problem for undoubtedly we have the capacity to do all of them at the same time.

All sorts of things will happen this weekend, all in the name of god and country but designed to serve other ends. As Vincentians we will have to begin to take a stand and show that 26 years of independence has meant something to us, that we are not innocent colonial babes but a people who have grown politically and matured in many ways. We have to stop politicians from taking us for granted. They should never be allowed to neglect us and at times even to abuse us, then feel that they could make up for it when election comes around.

I hope that all the stories I am hearing about politicians going around and handing out Kentucky Fried Chicken and other goodies, are not true. To do that is to insult the dignity of our people. Are we a mindless people just waiting for these kinds of handouts? Do we then after this go back to a situation where our concerns are not addressed until they come back to seek our votes in another five years.

This country is at the crossroads. There is surely a certain element of madness that only now needs to be certified. We merely have to sit back and reflect on things and we are bound to come to that conclusion. We need at times to step away from our emotionalism and look at things in a sober manner.

We will see the extent to which we are being fleeced by politicians and those around them who are only interested in us to the extent that we allow them through our actions to enjoy the benefits that come to them for their good behaviour. People have a right to support the party of their choice. That is the essence of a democracy. But we hope that their decision will be based on serious reflection and not on emotionalism or not on favours handed out to them and designed for that very purpose.

The kind of antagonism and hostility being displayed is not in our best interest for we have to live with each other after the ‘silly’ season is over. We have to depend on each other for many things. Regardless of which party we support we must be firm in letting politicians know that we should not be taken for granted and that we are not mindless bodies only there for the plucking. Once that gets out a lot of the foolishness will stop and our politics will regain some sanity.

Many years ago I read a book entitled ‘Under an English Haven’ by an English writer whose name I cannot now remember, but he was clearly an English humourist.

The book was about the English invasion of Anguilla during its period of political crisis. English policemen were hurriedly sent to Anguilla without knowing where that territory was or why they were being sent there.

The astounding silence was broken once by a loud sound. They jumped for their arms, believing that they were under attack but it was only the sound from the exhaust of a motorcycle. These gentlemen then spent the first few days trying to find out who the enemies were and where they were hiding. After realising that the situation was a farcical one they settled down to enjoy their stay.

The cover of the book had a picture of a number of bobbies (British policemen) bathing in the sea with their helmets on, having fun. The author was so fascinated by the scene and by the whole episode that he really went home on it and wrote a marvellous book.

I am not sure that he is still around for he will certainly want to come to St.Vincent and the Grenadines. It is his kind of thing.

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