In a country conducive to the politics of tribalism it is not difficult to understand why party colors trump common sense. It is also very easy for truth and reality to be sacrificed on the altar of party interests. It is not inconceivable that one’s political maturity and educated reasoning can easily be sidestepped for labels such as “Judas” and “traitor”(souceur). There are those who would rather have you consistently dogmatic, “yellow-skinned” or “red-eyed”, than positively liberated, with a capacity for independent and informed judgment. Perhaps it is my age and my upbringing, but over the years I have untangled myself from political party shackles and have adopted a holistic approach to political analysis, always thinking of country first.
So, contrary to the opinions of uninformed and mischievous party loyalists, my writings are not influenced by anyone’s private agenda but on the facts at my disposal and the objective analysis that guides my thought processes. In previous articles I have argued that the St Lucia Labour Party (into which I was born), the party of George Charles, the party of “Bread, Freedom, Justice” and the party to which my political orientation and ideology are firmly aligned, made a strategic blunder by clinging on to Dr. Kenny Anthony’s umbilical cord. Our vanquishing defeat in the 2006 elections by a tired, 82-year-old octogenarian, an ill and dying blast from the past, was a signal for leadership change.
Subsequent analyses showed that the election results revealed, not an outright rejection of the principles and policies of the St Lucia Labour Party, but rather a rebuke and rebuff of a leader who, in the view of a majority of St Lucians, both SLP and UWP, had become distant from the groundings with the masses. It seems clear that Dr Anthony’s massa tendencies and what was commonly referred to as his “arrogance”, so isolated and depressed the base of the party, that there was no fighting spirit left by the time the last election was announced. So, the election results compelled calypsonian Invader to sing the popular tune, “My Eyeballs Hurting Me!”
Yes, there were plenty of teary eyeballs across the country, including mine, far away in Atlanta. I argued that the conventions of our maturing democracy clearly suggested that a defeated party leader should be a gentleman and honorably offer his resignation, and allow the party the space and the introspection necessary to accept or reject it. Instead, in spite of a report that allegedly showed the party leader was largely responsible for the loss to the UWP’s ailing “old fox”, John Compton, the Labour Party allowed Dr Anthony to remain steadfast at its helm. Some will take issue with my statement, noting that the party is a democratic institution and that Dr Anthony was endorsed by the party. But let’s not be naïve here; we know how those party endorsements are obtained. The process is manipulated and tailored to favor the man in charge. It is a pretense at democracy that only spits upon real democracy. Remember the popular phrase these days, “pissing in my eyes and calling it . . . ”
So, here we are on the eve of an election and Kenny is being used, unfortunately for the party, as a major distraction by his opponents. The UWP knows only too well that Labour’s major weakness now is its leader, Dr Kenny Anthony. Rightly or wrongly, the King administration, with nothing to show for its term in office, not one new hotel or the 7,000 jobs it promised, has decided to make Dr Anthony the focus of this election. If I liked boasting, I would have gladly shouted, “I told you so!” But, placing country first dictates that I refrain from joining this justifiable chorus. What is going on here with this Grynberg affair is not just “brou-ha-ha” as some may think. It is a strategic blow at the very core of Dr. Anthony’s “arrogant” leadership style and “massaistic” temperament.” There are no Kenny-Grynberg crimes involved but the pattern of behavior is troubling and questions yet again the grave tendencies of Dr Anthony to take major decisions without consultation with well-paid technocrats and his own cabinet.
Clearly, Dr Anthony, as with the Rochamel Affair, did not consult with his cabinet on the Grynberg agreement. That is the crux of the matter folks! Richard’s lame-duck “royalties to be paid to the Minister” crap, is just that: crap! Dr Kenny Anthony is no thief; he is simply a disastrous, dictatorial manager. In this regard it must be kept in mind that the nonsensical chatter that Dr. Anthony was exonerated from Rochamel is nothing short of hogwash. The report of the inquiry clearly states that there was “mismanagement”. Because it did not reach the level of high crimes and misdemeanor with sufficient evidence to prove criminality beyond reasonable doubt, does not mean that Kenny’s mismanagement was cleansed by Paba, Laurent or the Archbishop.
Elections are about the future and no party should think that it can simply win an by default. There is ample evidence to suggest that the level of governance in the country is substandard of incompetent and ineffective. As you walk the streets of Castries there is a level of hopelessness not seen before this UWP recession. The drive from Vieux Fort is still very perilous with marked portions of the roads still in a state of disrepair many months after Hurricane Tomas. The government may have done a fairly good job with the recovery in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but it has not handled the rebuilding with the same level of urgency. I listened to the Prime Minister in an interview with Timothy Poleon explaining the difficulties involved in accessing funds from international agencies for such projects. But, what is equally true is that international funding agencies will not be in a hurry to assist any government that is embattled with charges of rampant corruption in its ranks. Respectability and good governance are twin brothers and if fingers are pointing at open governmental corruption, donor countries are well advised to keep their distance.
By far the most mind-boggling act of corruption of this UWP government was exhibited by the entire Cabinet of Ministers, in the stinking Tuxedo Villas Affair. An entire cabinet colluded to shield one of its members, who was found to have evaded customs and excise taxes. In the US, Mondesir would already have inherited Bruce Duane Tucker’s bedsheets. Which reminds me: federal prisoner Marcus Alcindor, Ausbert d’Auvergne’s cousin, is being released here next month. I’m sure PM King would already be making arrangements to receive his new deportee.
Local businesses are hurting badly. They are struggling weekly to meet payrolls and have made several calls on the administration to provide a measure of relief, but this rudderless government seems to have defective hearing aids. Unemployment is at staggering and stifling levels but no efforts are being made to stimulate the economy by engaging the young and vulnerable with productive work packages. There seems to be an absence of ingenuity and creative thinking in the government that will challenge the potential of our people. There is an undercurrent of uncertainty that is unsettling and a bois-kassay (broken arm) mentality. There is a rapidly growing cynicism that suggests that all politicians are the same. During the twelve days I spent on island, I heard it often: “Dem fellas are all for themselves!” It was everywhere I went, just like Glo-ko-ko, the catchy, jumpy soca tune that was blasting from every loud speaker on cars and public transportation. By, the way is there a Noise Abatement Act? But, I digress.
The opening salvos in this pending election suggest that character assassination, charges and counter charges will dominate the campaign season. Perhaps nothing new, but is this not the real problem? Our politicians, devoid of substance and plans for economic empowerment and renewal, turn their guns on each other. The destructive use of personal vilification is rampant among the personalities that are attracted to local politics. Clearly, the quality of representation and persons elected to office in most recent election cycles suggest that we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Yes, we the people are responsible for electing to office individuals of questionable character, yet we turn around and grumble when those same persons dish out their “low-life” productions. Then, we complain of a lack of patriotic personalities who can exemplify commitment to country instead of the pursuit of personal gain. Instead of holding them accountable, we are busy in the name of de party making all kinds of irrational excuses for non-performance.
Who is responsible for the uncollected garbage and clogged drains which cause major flooding in the city of Castries after a bucket of rainfall? While Central Castries representative, Richard Frederick threw himself a birthday bash at George V Park on a glorious Saturday afternoon and innocent, young, impressionable minds wined and gyrated to Monster’s Glo-Ko-Ko with free food, chicken and de spirit of St Lucia in abundance, two blocks away at the entrance of Morne Du Don and Bois Patat stinky, uncollected garbage piled up. If the people living with the trash tolerate this substandard quality of representation, their politicians can pretend to be demigods in their own kingdom.
In the heart of the tourist mecca at Rodney Bay, the stench of raw sewerage permeates the atmosphere. The dark water flows freely in a nearby gutter. “This place stinks badly!” exclaimed my seven year old son. He is amazed that the stench is coming from a nearby drain as he walks on the sidewalk. For a child that is already environmentally conscious, I was hard pressed to find a possible cause, or an excuse for a lack of competent representation. Luckily, he found the beach one of the best places to be, so he was not scarred for life. For a moment I wondered what the foreign tourists must think about my country’s World Heritage status, when it seems we are incapable of keeping our drains and city surroundings clean. And we still wonder why there is a rat problem in Castries! Well should we be surprised when so many rats can also be found in the corridors of our local political environment?
So, an issue oriented election with contending plans for the future development of the country will take a back seat to the usual spin. The serious problems facing the country will not be discussed as the politicians from the right and left jostle for power while profiting from the high level of illiteracy on the island. The St Lucia Labour Party seems poised to regain power; at least this seems to be the mood on the ground. However, there appears for good reason to be a high degree of pessimism as to the direction of the country. There is a feeling that people want genuine change, but fear that the characters at the helm may dish out more of the same if reelected. None of the political parties have outlined a vision for the future. What is abundantly clear is that St Lucians are patiently waiting for an election date. There is little optimism that this election will settle anything in terms of positive and progressive change but there are a few qualified candidates. Perhaps, this election may streamline the personalities and send to parliament the best from each party. Hopefully, the electorate in its wisdom will give no party an overwhelming mandate, forcing both parties to work together in the interest of country. Strange things can happen and voter discontent may give the island its best opportunity yet at a government of national reconstruction. Still, the SLP has an advantage, and Dr Anthony will have to convince the nation in the coming days that he is a converted people’s person, and that he has the best interest of the country at heart.
I am convinced that the one and only Rick Wayne was engaged in a deliberate act of testing Kenny Anthony’s supposedly new found charisma, when he had Alisha Ally call Kenny some days ago for a commentary. The expectant Prime-Minister, instead of showing the masses his new-found “charm”, and providing a positive comment, opted instead to go on record describing the STAR as “hostile” to the St Lucia Labour Party and turned the reporter away. John Compton was of the same opinion at one time. There was a time when The STAR gave sustained blows to John Compton and the UWP, when Publisher Rick Wayne felt that such was necessary. No politician in St Lucia has taken more blows from Rick Wayne as John Compton did. Compton attacked Rick with a nasty left hook, but lost out badly in that fight. Why can’t The STAR still get a comment from the SLP leadership? The STAR is a fundamental component of democracy in St Lucia, a position it attained by blood, sweat and tears. When will our leaders learn how to take their blows and remain magnanimous and charismatic? Aren’t we building a democracy in St Lucia? I contend that Kenny’s most recent dissing of Alisha is yet another demonstration of his poor, or totally absent, political savvy. In the meantime, while I will defend The STAR’s right to deliver body blows to Kenny, I would wish to tell The STAR, that with or without him, a new SLP government will avenge Rick’s “hostility” with an even better administration than their last.