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SVG choking on our heavy diet of political radio programming

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Reverend Adolf Davis, the superintendent minister of the Kingstown Chateaubelair circuit of the Methodist Church, hit the nail on the head when he identified the heavy diet of political programming that we are being fed on our radio stations as one of the main reasons for the divisiveness of our society.{{more}}

The fiery preacher made the observation as he delivered the sermon at the Thanksgiving Service to commemorate this country’s 37th anniversary of Independence on Sunday, October 23 at the Kingstown Methodist Church.

Consider for a moment that in St Vincent and the Grenadines, there are radio call-in programmes of a partisan political nature every day of the week, including Sundays, with the main political parties having two, sometimes three political talk shows a day, on weekdays.

To be sure, it is essential in a democracy that the electorate be well informed about the issues, so as to make intelligent choices at the polls. Radio being a very effective means of quickly and affordably communicating messages, the decision to liberalize the airwaves in the late 1990s is applauded, as it contributed significantly to the political education of our people.

But if one does an analysis of these radio programmes, the content is recycled and reinforced many times over and serves mainly to keep the populace in a heightened state of political agitation, unable to settle down after the conclusion of general elections.

The result is a divided nation in which everyone is judged depending on which political tribe he or she is perceived to belong to and where every decision or action of a citizen is viewed through the prism of partisan politics.

A divided, unsettled nation is not the only negative, there is also the tremendous loss of productivity occasioned by people’s focus being on the latest political intrigue, rather than on their means of livelihood. In this way, our developing nation is losing collectively, tens of thousands of man hours every single week.

Despite the claims and agitation of the Opposition, a general election is unlikely for another four years, so why the need to keep the momentum going? Would it be too much for the political parties to declare a truce and cut back on their programming, even just for the remainder of this year?

Interestingly, the thanksgiving service at which Reverend Davis made his observation was held under the theme: “Renewed in Christ: Committed to a New St Vincent and the Grenadines” and it was attended by the leaders of the two main political parties. How committed are they, our political leaders, to ushering in a new SVG?

We suspect that by and large, although they, our leaders, want to see the development of our country and people, they will not challenge the status quo, as the tribal nature of our politics suits their partisan political ambitions, even if the country is worse off for it.

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