The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]
I read and re-read the column in The Vincentian newspaper of Oct. 7, 2016 by Jomo Thomas. I must admit I was knocked sideways by what he wrote and must voice my admiration and acknowledge his courage in writing what he wrote. Among many other things he certainly noted that the land at Mount Wynne was being sold to0 cheap.
It’s my belief that much of what he wrote is a rebuke to PM Ralph Gonsalves, the regime, and dynasty.
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer and spent much of his professional life in the United States.
He is speaker of the Vincentian House of Assembly and was given that position by Gonsalves to try and tame him and get him under the control of the regime. Why was that seen as necessary?
Because in 2009, in a televised address, Jomo Thomas said “the leaders of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) are “cynical and reckless” and their actions “represent a clear and present danger” to the country”. That I believe was a direct reference by him to Ralph Gonsalves.
Jomo Thomas, at the time, was the General Secretary of the People’s Movement for Change (PMC).
He went on to say, “Vincentians should, therefore, begin to think and look beyond Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves for leadership of the state”.
After ranting about the NDP and ULP leadership, he went on to say, “Gonsalves and his team are guilty of nothing short of political treason”.
He said “the ULP looks at all of SVG’s problems in political rather than human terms” and “this modus operandi hamstrings SVG and makes it harder to advance the country”.
Thomas went on to say the country would have been in a better position if the ULP “placed country above self and people before politics… The ULP leadership cursed and fought with the opposition rather than fight for the unity was necessary if constitutional reform was to be successful”.
So you can understand why Gonsalves put him on a committee or two, made him a senator and last December gave him a run at teh South Leeward seat (fully well knowing he could not win it). When the new Parliament was constituted, to keep Jomo on the leash, Gonsalves made him Speaker of the House to which he has proved an excellent choice.
But this week, once again, it is obvious that Jomo has very different political and personal morals to the members of the ULP government.
Writing about the unions in Saint Vincent, he wrote, “There is no denying that the world [Saint Vincent] has changed, but these are changes for the worse. The consciousness of the people, which built up in the 1970s, has eroded, trade union organisation and solidarity have waned, community love and togetherness have given way to a backward and selfish individualism” [destroyed by Ralph Gonsalves].
He went on: “With this kind of change, who in their right mind will give up their principles for such an empty shell? Who will want to stop being their brother’s keeper because of a few dollars more? Well, not me”. Jomo is obviously complaining strongly about the treatment of the people and letting the regime know he has not been bought after all.
“If poverty has fallen in our land, we must still recognize that too many of our brothers and sisters cannot keep body and soul together on a daily basis”.
“There is no denying that the world has changed, but these are changes for the worse. The consciousness of the people, which built up in the 1970s, has eroded, trade union organization and solidarity have waned, community love and togetherness have given way to a backward and selfish individualism”.
Mentioning health care and education but pointing out the failings he said “it will be remiss of us to forget that many children of the poor, repeat classes and fail to graduate from school, and even more poor families suffer in pain and die because they do not have the wherewithal to see the doctor or pay for the curative drugs that are badly needed”.
This is very clearly a note that the people are suffering at the hands of the ULP.
“Although many of us have grasped the opportunity and moved into the middle class, we cannot forget the large swath of our people, especially youths, who do not have jobs, or are grotesquely exploited by their employers”.
“We are moving along rapidly with tourism, even though evidence abounds that these islands get less than ten cents of each tourist dollar. We have the experience of the Buccament Bay Resort where employees work long hours and don’t get paid their full ages on a timely basis. We have the sad case of Buccament Bay Resort boss, David Ames, who stole over $8 million of our people’s money.
“Yet, we move deeper into tourism. We sell lands at Canouan at great inconvenience to nationals, where mostly rich white people enjoy our beaches and treat our people like garbage”.
“We sold prime real estate at Mount Wynne for a fee that is far too low. When these lands are sold, they are gone forever. Two thirds of Canouan was given away by Mitchell’s NDP. This government has sold prime tracts there and in Bequia. Mustique has long been gone. Union Island is up for grabs. Mayreau is also being sold”.
Now if that is not a dressing down of the regime and a pulling to task of the dynasty I do not know what is. That is why I wrote somewhere else recently that Gonsalves would want to punch the wall when he read Jomo’s column.
I would think under normal circumstances Gonsalves would want rid of him and dish him up a big helping of spite and malice. But Gonsalves has to be a little frightened of Jomo because Jomo outclasses him to a great degree and he is a danger to Gonsalves politically. In fact, he might be described as a hazard.
According to the Constitution, the Speaker of the House cannot just be dismissed willy-nilly.
24 (2) if a person who is not a member of the House is elected to be Speaker he shall, by virtue of holding the office of Speaker, be a member of the House.
30 c. if he is removed from office by resolution of the House in favor or which there are cast the votes of two-thirds of all the members of the House excluding the Speaker.
So to remove him if he has committed no offence under the constitutional rules takes two-thirds of the whole House in a ballot to do so. So, comrade Gonsalves, as they say, “Crapo smoke your pipe”.
The shame is, Gonsalves thought he had bought Jomo lock, stock, and barrel, but all he got was the wrapping; the content is still where it has always been — in Jomo’s heart.
There is much more to read and for those of you who have not read what he wrote in the Vincentian, I recommend you do so right now.
Please do not think for one moment that I agree with everything Jomo says, writes and does, he is still an old-fashioned type of socialist; the kind I do not like very much.
I keep in mind what Jomo said in Cuba in April 2016:
“Cuba is an important example. I always tell the Cuban ambassador in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that I am a Cuban, because I recognize the profound importance of the Cuban Revolution for the world”.
He went on to say “And even if one does not agree with all Cuban socialist ideas, the fact is that the Cuban Revolution has accomplished much and as the guerrilla Commander Ernesto Che Guevara said, what they fear is the example.
“Reactionary forces fear the example of Cuba and its Revolution, which I embrace and love, as throughout my entire life I have been a revolutionary”.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].