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The youth: stepping up to bat

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Let me begin with a big HAIL, CAESAR! (That is applauding Saboto Caesar on his recent Senatorial and Executive responsibilities, not adolations for a new King/Caesar). I am not fond of formal occasions, but I had to attend Saboto’s swearing-in ceremony at Government House on Tuesday because of my profound admiration for this young man and my personal approval of his suitability for the responsibilities with which he has been entrusted.{{more}}

Saboto is of the generation of my youngest children but since his statement of patriotism in eschewing more lucrative offers to return home to his country and people, our paths have coincided and he has become, inspite of his tender years, a colleague of mine. At his swearing-in Saboto revealed his mettle in that in making his choice of country before self, he felt that as a beneficiary of banana and national scholarships, he feels an obligation to give service to the quarters which provided a basis for his advancement. Rare qualities in today’s world, associated only with those who some would dismiss as “dinosaurs” of the modern world. Since when have gratitude, commitment and patriotism become extinct! Saboto is living proof that there are many gems among our young people still. We should seek to produce more of the same, cherish and polish them so that their outstanding qualities can shine like lodestars to guide future generations.

The young Senator has the difficult task of preventing himself from being tarnished by the viscosity of our politics. After all other Senators before him, on both sides of the House, have not been able to hold their heads above the murky waters which swill around our politicians. It will be to the credit of the Opposition NDP, whilst being opposed to ULP politics, if they can avoid dragging the brush of defamation on his name but to try and encourage a similar flowering of youth in their ranks. God knows how our country could do with more like Saboto, in and out of Parliament!

Saboto enters the front line of ULP politics at a time when, in spite of impressive mobilization efforts, it cannot ignore the legal battles and political moral controversies surrounding Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. The rape and sexual assault charges against him have become enmeshed in the protracted and bitter day-to-day political battles between both parties which have raged for 10 years now. Yet, legal matters aside, whatever the outcome, both parties need to use their negative developments in guiding the conduct and framing the moral qualities of future leadership. Will they learn from it? Or is the political outcome of greater significance than the moral issues involved?

Back to the Saboto appointment, however. It was made possible by a minor reshuffle in the ULP’s political ranks. In the first place, the ULP have revived the concept of “rotation” of senatorial appointments, an idea first mooted when the ULP was in opposition during the late nineties. It is a good idea, particularly providing training experience for young politicians, but it must not negate the idea of civil society representation in Parliament. Additionally, it is sad that the ULP itself seemed to shelve the rotation idea for some time. Perhaps this is what led to the rift with disaffected Robert Fitzpatrick.

Saboto’s appointment can only redound to the credit of the ULP and to Prime Minister Gonsalves’ commitment to provide opportunities for young people to “fly with the eagles” as he is fond of saying. Not quite so positive for the ULP’s handling part of the future of the country, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to Mike Browne, not only approaching the veteran generation, but who has himself announced that he is on the way out. No doubt there may be perfectly good reasons for it but young people may deserve a younger person of greater dynamism and energy.

We can only wish Saboto Caesar all the best in his new endeavours, expressing confidence in his ability to succeed. It would be good if a similarly positive approach were taken by the NDP in turn and if Dr. Gonsalves would continue the rotation. After all, in spite of Caesar’s qualities, he is the fourth lawyer so appointed. What of the other fields?

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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