The Jomo – Comrade Leader saga
I have in the past wondered about and reflected on the relationship between Jomo and his Comrade leader. Two things stood out for me.Quite often in the past when Jomo wrote articles critical of the ULP and by extension its Leader, there was always a reassuring paragraph at the end.
When Jomo resigned from the National Heroes Committee over disagreement with the action of the PM, he was never given the treatment one expected, but rather remained a treasured insider. Behind all of this was a long-standing relationship between the two men dating back to the UPM days. Jomo talked of his involvement in the struggle since the age of 14 and his commitment to a vision for the development of the country.
He would obviously have learnt a lot from his Comrade and would have held him in high respect. That relationship which then was akin to one between student and teacher, seemed to have influenced how as Speaker he reacted to the PM.
I was a bit confused with Frank DaSilva’s hounding, for I felt he could never have done it without the Leader’s acquiescence. Jomo seemed to have realised that, but at what point? I imagine that there would have been many complaints to the PM by the circle, inner or outer or by others. At what point did that relationship begin to sour? Was it when he brought Camillo into the picture and began to compare their treatment or did the relationship turn sour before then, forcing him to talk about Camillo being given a fast track to political stardom? When the PM, during a meeting of parliament, asked the Speaker to say what he had in his craw, there seemed to be no turning back. It had reached a point of collision. Jomo then later at a Press Conference on Tuesday, October 29, revealed what he had in his craw and followed this up with an article on November1.
The response to Jomo has been quite interesting, with a lot of advice being offered even by detractors. I am sure Jomo would have carefully considered his options for as he said nothing can detour his commitment, “not money, fame, fortune, or woman”. The dialogue however seemed to have shifted as persons responded to Shafia London who set about defending her husband and attempted to question Jomo’s credibility. What was lost or overlooked were the reasons Jomo gave for resigning from the ULP, for there is that old saying that “If Barracuda come out of the sea and say…”, you have to believe it. Jomo raised the question of timing, “My departure from the ULP was long in coming. All that was left was timing”, without really expanding, in fact, without revealing the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. He informed us that at his first Central Executive Meeting that lasted 171 minutes, the Comrade leader spoke for 136 minutes. He noted the “intolerance and demonization of persons with opposing or contrary ideas and opinions”, reflecting on his UPM days when ideas were allowed to contend. Then there was the issue of confusing and conflating national interest with that of the governing party, among others.
Obviously, he had misgivings for some time, realising that he had been misreading the situation and that what he expected was not happening and in the manner he anticipated. The question comes back to timing. What took him so long to make that decision? Was he hoping that things would change? But why resign as Speaker, which he hopes to do in the first quarter of next year? Is this again a matter of timing? Finally, one matter raised by Safia needs clarification. Jomo said he was invited to join the ULP in 2013, but she suggested that in an opinion piece in the Searchlight in 2006 reference was made to a ULP membership since 2005. Clarification needed!