Head of the Reparation Committee, Jomo Thomas, says he does not think his appointment as a senator for the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) should have “any negative implications” for the reparations movement.
Thomas made the point on Saturday during an interview with I-Witness News ahead of his announcement as a senator on Monday.
Thomas is expected to be appointed as Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly tomorrow, Thursday.
“I say this to you, and I made the point recently, between the ULP and the NDP (New Democratic Party), they represent about 80 per cent, if not more, of the voting public in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So, they represent vital constituencies and the decision I have made to become a ULP senator, I was a fighter for reparations before I became a ULP senator,” Thomas said.
He noted that he was one of the attorneys in a very important reparations case that was filed in 2002 in the United States.
“So, I am not a neophyte; I am not a Johnny-come-lately to the issue of reparations; and this is why, from very early, I have asked that the Opposition should become a part of the conversation that would deal with reparations,” Thomas said.
Thomas is also a political activist and radio, television and newspaper columnist.
“I have said in my columns, in my mind, one of the most unfortunate things that has happened in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is that the political parties have become the most important institution of social interaction in St. Vincent. This was not the case when I was growing up.”
Thomas said that during his youth, that role was played by community organisations, such as sports clubs.
“So, people could have come from whichever political party, but now the political party is the preeminent organisation of social interaction. In my mind, that is a negative development.”
Thomas is also a founder member of the People Movement for Change (PMC), an advocacy group launched in 2008.
Asked about the implication on the PMC of his senatorial appointment, Thomas said the PMC had a meeting to discuss several things some time before Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves asked him to be a senator.
“It must be remembered that when the PMC was formed it was said that the PMC was not a political party, that it would welcome members from across the political divide but it would seek to hold a position that would hold the political parties honest, that would keep them constantly attempting to work in the national interest,” Thomas told I-Witness News.
“And I don’t see that as a contradiction to me being a ULP senator,” Thomas said, adding, “The national call, in my mind, is bigger than the political party call.
“The national call is enormously larger than the political party call, because, sometimes, a political party may take a decision, that, even in its wisdom, it may believe is in the national interest, the reality over time, whether we are talking about St. Vincent, the region or whatever part of the world, it would have been demonstrated that what the party thought would have been in the best interest of the nation turns out not to be,” Thomas said.
Asked whether he would be appointed a minister or parliamentary secretary, Thomas said no.
“… I have a law practice too and I am still intrigued by the law. If it were to come that I should run for electoral office and become victorious and be part of a team that is in government, then I would have to reconfigure a lot of things that I do in the law, because it would not be proper for me to be a full time government minister and for me to be doing full time private legal practice,” Thomas said.