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Leaders must deliver trust, stability, compassion and hope


by Sherrill-Ann Mason 21.DEC.10

With the general elections just concluded on December 13, 2010, we can expect that emotions will continue to run high for weeks and maybe months to come. As in other elections, we should expect that supporters and commentators of both major parties will have much to say about the election results.{{more}} Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves’ call for cooperation and healing, his promises to listen more keenly to the people and to be on the ground more often among the people must be seen as an olive branch in the interest of national unity. The Comrade must also come good on his word. With undoubtedly hard times ahead, Vincentians and their leaders, in both the ULP and the NDP, must see this as a unique opportunity to put the country first and to bridge the deep political divide that has often caused hatred among our people and bring our people together for genuine dialogue about the way forward. At this time, the nation’s best interest must be put squarely at the centre of this dialogue, so that the best policies and programs can emerge to lead the country forward to prosperity.

What the citizenry must ensure is that it continues to be as vigilant and engaged in the political and social life of the country as it was during the run up to the elections. Vincentians must ensure that their leaders follow through on their articulated vision, policies, and programs, including an end to political victimization and political patronage. The people have been promised much and must be genuinely engaged by their leaders in both parties to ensure that what is delivered is in the best interest of the people and country. Vincentians should expect that their government leaders will engender four basic principles: trust, stability, compassion and hope.

The governing party must work assiduously to gain the trust of all Vincentians by genuinely working in the interest of all people regardless of political persuasion. This is easier said than done, since there are many with axes to grind and many with expectations of spoils of the government, based on their support of the ruling party. While old practices die hard, nothing changes unless there is the will to do so.

Therefore, the government must demonstrate a willingness to begin the process of healing from the vicious political tribalism. This will take many decisive, reconciliatory interventions, since there are deep political wounds. Nonetheless, Vincentian people, tired of the political tribalism, must be resolute in defense of their democracy and a more prosperous country. The government will also win trust by governing with transparency and producing policies and programs that noticeably and positively impacts the lives of the people.

This confidence will foster stability, which is vital for many forms of development to take place in the country. Vincentians and investors alike must feel that the government will protect them, their rights and their investments. They must feel confident that thugs and people of ill repute will not be allowed to dominate the society. They must feel that their government is working hard to curb crime and violence in all forms and fashion. And they must also feel that the government will implement social and economic policies and programs that help to provide more sustainable livelihoods in the way of secure jobs and vibrant communities.

The government, including the opposition, must also demonstrate compassion by listening and responding in the most practical ways to the cries of the people. Our leaders must be willing to humble themselves and show that they genuinely care about what people have to say about how their lives should be governed. Therefore, mechanisms such as community or village councils must be put in place for the people to continuously have communication and consultation with their leaders. These mechanisms must serve to allow the people to assist with managing and organizing community life and not as conduits of political patronage. Vincentians must be given the proverbial fishing rod, so that they can learn to fish for themselves rather than depend on a daily handout of a fish.

Finally, the government must inspire hope for a bright future among all of the people, especially the youth. Vincentians must feel that tomorrow will be better than today. They must see and embrace a clearly articulated vision that has realistic, achievable goals. People must feel that whatever sacrifices they are called upon to make, today will be a benefit and not a millstone to them and their children in the future. They must feel that they matter and that their opinions are valued well beyond elections. To this end, the leaders must recognize the importance of delivering trust, stability, compassion and hope to the Vincentian people.