KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent: – A one-year “political social” group here says it believes that it will better serve the country if it does not morph into a political party.
The People’s Movement for Change (PMC) celebrates its first anniversary on Friday with a discussion of the “Evolving Democratic State and the Place of Policing”, the penultimate in a series of activities to celebrate its first year.
“We said when we were launched that we were a political social organization, we were not a political party and there has been no discussion among the leadership of the organization about any such transformation,” PMC General Secretary Jomo Thomas said during an interview Wednesday.
“We believe we are playing a very vital and important role as we are now as the People’s Movement for Change and that is what we plan to continue to do in the upcoming year,” he said, adding that Vincentians will increasing appreciate the need for such an organization.
He said the PMC was formed because some Vincentians thought their country needed an organization that puts the country before individuals and people before politics.
He said the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) was characterized by tribalism, very little policy and issues discussions, and an overemphasis on personalities and narrow partisan politics
“We believe that in a small developing country like ours, with very limited resources, we needed to get to issue and policy conversations in order to take the country out of the serious mess which it was in,” he said.
Thomas said that the PMC had addressed these issues “in a number of ways”.
The PMC has issued a number of statements, including one on the much discussed and highly polarized international airport project.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in August 2005 outlined his proposal for the construction of the EC$500M (US$185.19M) project, the largest infrastructural undertaking in the country’s history.
In a statement last November, the PMC urged Vincentians to support the project and called on the Dr. Gonsalves administration to address the major concerns of the opposition “to ensure that the international airport project becomes a truly national project rather than a partisan ULP project”.
It also asked the government to make provisions for citizens to part-own the facility by offering bonds for sale as the Maurice Bishop government had done when Grenada had a similar undertaking.
The PMC also made a statement on the importance of Vincentians in the diaspora and their contribution to the development of the nation.
Among its activities, the PMC hosted a “One People, One Nation” rally in Kingstown, “an incentive to bring people together and get out of the partisan ram jam”.
Thomas said that the group’s members have spoken during radio talk shows about the need for transparency, accountability, responsiveness in governance and public affairs, the need to build a more wholesome community, and decried corruption.
It has also organized two physical and mental wellness walks, with a third carded for Saturday morning in Calliaqua, a town east of here.
It has also proclaimed a “George E. McIntosh Self Improvement Award”, with the first awardee being the local credit union movement. However, Thomas said, union leaders were yet to decide if they would accept the award, saying they did not know who PMC was.
“These are the kinds of things that we believe will help to build a society that is much more united and well more organized,” Thomas said of the PMC’s activities.
“All of this, if you notice, has a national emphasis on healing,” he added.
“There has been a lot of talk, particularly from the governing party, especially the Prime Minister, that the PMC wants to do away with partisan politics. That is foolishness. We don’t want to do away with partisan politics but we believe that much of the partisan politics we have in St. Vincent is mindless. It is not directed at serious politics discussion.”
He said that the PMC has had a “fairly good response on the average” and some people wanted the organization to become a political party.
“We believe we are playing a very vital and important role as we are now as the People’s Movement for Change and that is what we plan to continue to do in the upcoming year.”
He said the organization would be able to do “much more organized, focused and successful work” in its second year, adding, “Most of what we do would be guided by the way in which things break out, the way in which things evolve in the society.”
Director of Public Prosecution Colin Williams, Opposition senator and Vice President of the NDP Major St. Clair Leacock and PMC Chairman Oscar Allen will sit on the panel during Friday’s discussion.
The discourse will look at democracy in the context of constitutional reform.
“We are talking about some of the problems we have after 30 years of an independent constitution and the ways in which those are a constraint on our further democratization.
“…We are looking at the role of policing specifically but more directly the role of the state, especially the coercive arms of the state, how they complement or retard that evolving democratic state that we call St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Thomas explained.
He said more effort will be put into consolidating the PMC during its second year, including organizing cadres across the country and educating Vincentians on issues of national, regional and international importance.
“Because we believe that a consciousness, a crucial consciousness is vitally important if we are to help in building SVG and in taking SVG to another level. But certainly, as things unfold, we will respond to them.”