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Defend our gains, protect your legacy

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Tue, Oct 4. 2011

Editor: De Comrade has been very active in regional politics for over forty years. As a leftist in opposition, he has been the people’s watchdog that kept successive governments – from Joshua’s PPP to Cato’s Labour Party to Mitchell’s NDP – on the straight and narrow. In government, he has brought immeasurable progress and development to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Since Robert Bradshaw (St Kitts-Nevis) exited politics and expired, De Comrade has truly been the driving force behind Caribbean integration.

Now, after ten years in government, and his unwillingness to discipline rogue public servants and party operatives, De Comrade’s governance is like a cricket ball in its 20th over – losing its shine and being knocked about by even tail-enders in the wicket.

How else could one honestly describe what is going on in the ULP government over the last couple of years or so? One might say that into its third term, complacency has set in. Today’s situation is far worse. De Comrade’s political and governmental ship, laden with valuable goods, is running very close to the reef. If this ship runs aground, SVG and Vincentians will be set back by more than two decades.

So why is De Comrade presiding over this frightening situation? Is he tired? Does he no longer care about SVG and the Caribbean region? What has clouded his political eyesight?

The people’s Prime Minister was swept into power in 2001 after 17 hard Mitchell/Eustace years. In the first five years, Gonsalves accomplished ten times more than did Mitchell in his four terms. The Education Revolution had begun to take root. There were enormous advances in every sector of the economy. This continued through the second term with a long-awaited international airport being completed right before our eyes. The public and private sectors made huge strides. And De Comrade placed SVG on the world map. All this, in the worst ten years of international economic downturn.

De Comrade was opposed every step of the way by a visionless Arnhim Eustace and his NDP opposition. But De Comrade always prevailed for the people of SVG. He has delivered on the promises he made, then some. Now De Comrade seems hell-bent on creating a huge electoral success for an opposition party which has performed worse than any in our political and constitutional history.

First, De Comrade appointed cousin Julian Senator-for-life and handed him the most powerful Cabinet portfolio after that of the Prime Minister. Julian is a good government minister and party organiser. He is good at what he does. But other than in countries like Canada, where Senators are appointed for life, where else can this nonsense happen? Very few Canadian Senators are given Cabinet positions – and not in perpetuity. These are reserved for elected representatives.

Then there are public servants and political operatives who, within recent times, have literally ignored the written policies of the public service and the ULP, with impunity.

Sehon Marshall contradicted his own Prime Minister on the ULP radio station, on a major national initiative. This, only hours after the Prime Minister stood on his feet and delivered a Ministerial Statement in Parliament on Cocoa. For his (Marshall) arrogance, stupidity and disrespect for the Prime Minister and Sir James Mitchell, it is said that Marshall was awarded with an appointment to regulate himself.

Hans King, the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, before an international listening audience, on more than one occasion, emphatically stated that he contemplated committing the most serious crime on the books. The Prime Minister, to the chagrin of the non-ULP fanatics and trough feeders – decent Vincentians at home and in the Diaspora – took to the international airwaves and stated that King did nothing wrong. Gonsalves pointed to “criminal libel” on the part of the NDP activist, whom it is said, wronged King on FaceBook. This, from one of the most senior and successful criminal lawyers in the entire region. This, from the Prime Minister of a progressive and democratic country of law-abiding citizens.

Now, De Comrade is silent on the dotish remarks made by his Agriculture Minister, Montgomery Daniel. Most troubling in the Daniel affair, is the fact that he (Daniel) made the remarks on the very same political platform where Gonsalves addressed the nation and world, just hours after returning from a successful trip to the United Nations and New York.

Indeed, if the Prime Minister was absent when Gomery opted for emotionalism over professionalism and consciousness, Gonsalves should have been informed and advised to make an apology during his address to the same ULP Sandy Bay public meeting.

Sitting in my living room in Winnipeg, Canada, listening to the broadcast of the Sandy Bay ULP meeting on Star Radio, I almost fell out of my seat. As a Black Nationalist and activist; as someone with Carib heritage; and indeed a proud Vincentian who is a staunch and vocal advocate of multiculturalism, Gomery’s foolish remarks raised my blood pressure instantly. I contemplated quitting the Labour Party.

I went to bed last Sunday night hoping that on Monday morning, the Prime Minister would hold a media conference or address the nation on radio and TV to apologise for Minister Daniel’s remarks and announce his immediate removal from Cabinet, along with the firing of Hans King. As this piece is written, one full week later, the loquacious Gonsalves has not yet one word uttered. Perhaps this is a good thing, because if he does, it might be to defend Gomery’s remarks and announce an ambassadorial posting for Hans King.

Such is the way De Comrade ah run tings for the past two years… and ULP fanatics and other Vincentians like it so.

“In time to come”, we will all regret not demanding better from De Comrade and his government and party operatives.

Comrade, in the name of God Almighty, I once more appeal to you to protect our gains and defend your (political) legacy. It’s time for a Cabinet reshuffle and a “shake up” of party operatives.

Wade Kojo Williams, Sr.

Wade Kojo Williams, Sr., is a former Labour Party General Secretary, government Senator and Deputy Speaker in SVG. He is a citizen of SVG and Canada.

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