A non-partisan pressure group in St. Vincent and the Grenadines says the “loss of unifying authority and morale” in the country is “the surface” of what is says is “a crisis” in the nation.
The People’s Movement for Change (PMC), whose motto is “People before party, country above politics”, has, therefore, called on citizens and leaders of the country “to pause and consider” its pleas.
Chair of the PMC, Oscar Allen, in a statement, addressed the on-going political tensions in the country in the aftermath of the Dec. 9 general elections.
The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which won seven of the 15 parliamentary seats, has accused the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP), which captured the remaining eight, of stealing the elections.
The NDP has refused to participate in parliamentary activities and small group of is supporters have been holding protests daily in Kingstown.
“Our country is unsettled, anger fills the airwaves and economic life is uncertain,” Allen said in the statement, adding that this is the candid observation of the PMC.
He said that when, after the elections, the second most popular political party cries foul and rejects the elected government, there is reason for unease.
“When this moment of tensions which should be met with a government’s restraint, vigilance, statecraft and self-analysis, meets instead with hostile denunciation and ridicule, the art and science of politics and governance descend to ‘What I say goes,’ a disrespect for diversity of opinion,” Allen said.
He further said that when the protesting party allows unpleasant or vile comments to be made against individual officers, mainly the Supervisor of Elections, stirring more vileness in return, a cause becomes schism.
“This loss of unifying authority and morale is the surface of the crisis, as we see it, and so, we ask fellow citizens and leaders to pause and consider our pleas.
The PMC chair appealed to the political leadership, saying that it would like the NDP to strengthen its role as the parliamentary opposition and its cause for elections review.
“Give your assent to the government even as you use all your powers to dismantle it.
“We ask you to return to Parliament and prepare and present your contributions as being the voice of so many Vincentians of all political persuasions, including ULP captives.
“Can you not clothe the street in protests for a cause that is larger than the elections results, and so indicate to the community that the NDP has an outline of a really “New” inclusive democratic way of governance?” Allen said.
He also invited the ULP “to recognise that a “mature 4th term government presents a change to fashion the fresh start that we expected following the so-called’ roadblock revolution”.
Allen also called on the ULP to subscribe to a “people empowering political economy” and extend “penitent outreach to those whose heads rise above the crab basket.
“Can not the ULP use its energy to set in motion a moral revolution with the party and a democratic power in society?” he said.
“We in the PMC consider that that is the way out of our coming crisis of power, chaos and resort to coercion – physical, judicial and legislative.”
Addressing citizens, Allen said there is a sense in which “the crisis on the horizon” in SVG is related to “the kind of citizen we have become”.
He said a new kind of citizen is needed “in order that we make our way out of this looming chaos.
“There are some of our people who are wise to the mess we are in but keep their heads and hands below the radar as a personal security measure in the present crude practice of governance.
“There are others among our people who consider their political tribes guarantees a better way ahead for our country, and maintain tribal warfare.”
He said there are still citizens who live well as a result of and in spite of woes of the economy, policy and people.
“For the PMC, some categories of citizen will more readily feel and heed the call for commitment to take up the new role that our country, SVG, calls us to fill.
“The PMC points to the way ahead as a citizen-led change, and we challenge ourselves and those who know the nation’s crisis, to step forward in a pro-democratic movement of significant weight, to help lead our civil society and our political society onto a new day, a deepened democracy and abundant opportunity for each and all to develop,” Allen said.
He said the PMC will offer soon a forum where it can share more fully its understanding of the reality that faces “us all in SVG.
“All are involved, …” Allen said.
Nice Rodney “Can’t we all get along” King sentiments which are totally unrealistic:
1. Tribal politics was born some 60 years ago and has “matured” ever since. There is no turning back without a constitutional abolition of the party system.
2. For an excellent analysis of this political tribalism which is even more relevant today than when it was written in the 1960s, read Dr. Kenneth John’s essay in Flambeau (whose title I can’t remember). Using wit, irony, poetic prose, and penetrating analysis Dr. John carefully dissected this party-man mentality. Ironically, Dr. John drank his own Kool-Aid by joining Sir James Mitchell’s tribe in the 1970s!
3. Politics in SVG is not just a vicious fight for power, wealth, jobs, favours, and handouts. It is also a sport and pastime which gives a sense of meaning, belonging, and recognition to party supporters. If we didn’t have political rivalry, we would have to invent some other activity to takes its place in a society with so little other self-fulfilling activity.
4. We are a poor country without the means to meet everyone’s needs, let alone wants. Political patronage is one of many ways of allocating our scarce resources. (Some of the others being hard work, luck, inherited wealth, and the many forms of non-political patronage).
5. Unlike these other means of allocating what little we have, party politics reshuffles the pack of cards whenever a government changes hands thereby ensuring that the have-nots get their fair share of our small pie. It did not change hands in 2015 or 2010 only because of the many shortcomings of the NDP.
Too bad the PMC doesn’t realize or refuses to acknowledge any of these complexities of party tribalism (historical, psychological, constitutional, economic, and sociological) and can only fall back on the simple-minded Rodney King motto (as have some of the Churches as well, but with more justification — the word of God).
Sorry Oscar but you know better than anyone how Gonsalves thinks and behaves. Your pleas is worth a reward but Gonsalves will just laugh at you. H e believes he is right and the marshmallow revolution that he has created is working the way he planned.
Those at the political top have become very, very rich. The middle class are leaving for in hoards for greener pastures whenever they can. The ‘petite bourgeoisie’ and the ‘peasant class’ have got poorer and are now putty in his hands as they line up for whatever they can get for free.
You cannot change his Scientific Socialist plans he started a revolution at the road block and it has continued until today, it is still in progress, the “marshmallow revolution” which he considers soft and sweet. But it is only soft and sweet for the recipients of the goodies, those who are unfortunate enough to experience the hatred, spite and malice its not sweet at all.
True and well-said Peter!
A lot of truth here. I disagree that the NDP should “give in”. That would certainly invite ridicule. Obviously this non-partisan group indeed leans to the ULP. they did however, very candidly, mention that if the ULP are to be considered the leaders they have to act like leaders. Unfortunately Ralph Gonsalves does not have leadership qualities. He is certainly in “control” of his party, and therefore is kind of a leader, but just not a good one He is obviously a failure as the leader of a country. He rather seeks to divide the nation rather than unite it. It would be easy to write a book on all the failures of Ralph Gonsalves. He has turned SVG into a failed state.
I think that’s part of the point. Putting country before party would create the space to “give in” (to use your terms) even if it invites ridicule, if it is the right move for the COUNTRY. I absolutely hate how our leaders are not open to change and submission, as they should be as public servants.
Similarly, putting country before party will lead a rational thinking person to acknowledge that the PM has many excellent leadership qualities, wrt St. Vincent. Country before party thinking recognizes all the flaws and successes of all leaders- opposition and incumbent alike.
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