Worldwide, people are demanding accountability from their political representatives. Almost everywhere but in Saint Lucia. Will we ever become active participants in the governance of our island?
In 1997, when even to mention the SLP was taboo, I voted for Kenny Anthony. In 2006, however, I cast my vote for Sir John Compton. Put another way, I voted against Kenny Anthony. At the time I imagined I was alone; that I had engaged in an exercise in futility. And yet I held my chest high, with pride. I had taken a stand against what I considered bad government.
Imagine my surprise upon discovering, after the votes had been counted, that there were other citizens who thought as I did; who had decided to stand up for what they thought was right, against what they considered wrong. My euphoria was short-lived. No one was more disappointed than I when Sir John announced his Cabinet, comprising individuals whose candidacy the people had rejected.
We should never forget the debacle that followed Sir John’s passing; Stephenson King’s selfish elevation of Rufus Bousquet. In effect, the people took a kick in the teeth, with power once again prevailing over principle. To make matters worse, there was the blatant callous wastage of government funds.
So what did I do? I waited patiently for the next general election, while the country sank deeper into a bottomless pit. My distaste for Stephenson King in 2011 was even greater than it had been in 2006 for Kenny Anthony. King had not only betrayed my trust but the deceased Sir John’s as well.
I voted eagerly for Kenny Anthony, who in 2006 had made me cringe. Once again I experienced the feeling of aloneness, especially with all the money floating into constituencies just before elections. But guess what? Another pleasant surprise was my reward. The election result proved there were more people like me than I had thought.
There were thinkers, people who realized that regardless of our political colours, one colour ran through our veins. That much we all had in common.
Politicans fear us, if only once every five years. Until voting time, they treat us with scant respect. They deny us our right to accountability and transparency. Then come election time, the wolves become like lambs as they beg our vote, sometimes even paying for it, one way or another. And too often we fall for their tricks.
The political musical chairs must end. Where are the visionaries? Where are the people who love this country? Call me naïve, call me stupid. But when Kenny Anthony returned in 2011 as our Prime Minister, I truly believed him when he said he had learned while in purgatory that the people must always come first. Not just his personal favorites but all the people. I convinced myself that any primary school student could have done a better job than the previous government.
But here I am, with two years before the next elections, once again choking on my own bile, convinced it’s time to strike a blow against what is wrong and will grow worse if we as a people do nothing. The Governor General’s address that featured in the STAR of March 20, 2014, further convinced me that something is truly rotten in our state. Almost every word from Dame Pearlette had the sound of deep disenchantment, a feeling I share.
I am all too aware of the criticism that has been leveled at our Embassies over the years. I’ve refrained from commenting in the past because what I heard sounded far-fetched. Upon reading Her Excellency’s speech, however, all I could think of was “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
To be removed from Saint Lucia, with all its problems, and given expensive accommodation in the US or England, a diplomatic passport and all its associated privileges, must be every party hack’s wet dream.
What is especially ironic about this is that most of these lucky people have no knowledge of international relations, no background in the field, never studied it. Too many of them have never given public service before they were appointed by the Governor General.
But Dame Pearlette reminded us in her speech that she appoints only as directed by the Prime Minister. Does that mean the Prime Minister ordered the appointment of his party secretary’s wife as second in command in Washington, and his son as the Legal Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
What is the background that allows Mrs. Clarke to “earn” a salary that makes the public servants at the Treasury Department feel deprived and underpaid. Is it true that her daughter is enrolled at public expense in a private school overseas?
I understand that the Consulate that was all but shut down a few years ago under this current administration has been given new life. Why, when we cannot pay our public servants at home?
What qualifies Menissa Rambally to be our ambassador in New York? Was her appointment based solely on political affiliations considerations? Albert Fregis was one of the election candidates rejected in 2011. A retired police officer, he is now the second in command at our London mission. The electorate of Dennery South did not want him, so what was the rationale behind his appointment?
We need accountability and transparency. Most of all we need respect. We owe it to our country to demand that government funds be used for the sole purpose for the development of this land that gave us birth and not only as reward for hand-picked political hacks. We need true journalists to expose the facts behind these appointments and how hard the recipients work for their easy money. The people have the right to know how our money is spent!
I hope one day to vote for someone with the courage to make a difference, someone not tolerant of business as usual.
Politician after local politician, having bled the country by uselessly traveling all over the world, eventually leave it to public servants to clean up their mess. These public servants sit quietly, bite their lips and say nothing for fear of victimization. They must find the courage to expose the scoundrels.
The saddest part is that things will never change until we come together to make it happen.
And by change, I mean we must stop playing musical chairs with politicians who have been tried over and over and continue to be found wanting. One way or another, we must discover St Lucians truly worthy of our vote!