Member of Parliament for South Central Windward, Saboto Caesar speaking in Parliament on Wednesday. (iWN photo)

Is there a deeper meaning to Member of Parliament for South Central Windward, Saboto Caesar’s comments that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves does not have the moral or legal authority to speak for him?

That’s the question that some political observers have been mulling over since Caesar’s comments in Parliament last Wednesday.

The comments by the Minister of Agriculture — who was once seen as a strong contender to succeed Gonsalves as leader of the Unity Labour Party and prime minister — have put some political observers in a mood to do some analysing.

Some political observers have concluded that Caesar comments were merely meant to support what turned out to be a successful attempt to get House Speaker Jomo Thomas not to allow debate on the motion of no confidence that the opposition had brought against the government last week.

Some other political observers, however, say that Caesar’s comments have deeper meaning.

They noted that Caesar’s comments come against the backdrop of the decision by Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, supposedly following his advice of his father, the prime minister, to remain silent in response to former model Yugge Farrell’s claims that the younger Gonsalves cheated on his wife with her.

While the finance minister has remained silent, his father has taken to several radio stations commenting on the scandal and has also spoken about it at a press conference.

Many political observers believe that Camillo has eclipsed any chances that Caesar had of becoming prime minister as the older Gonsalves prepares to hand over the leadership of the ULP and the mantle of prime minister.

The prime minister has said that he would not lead the ULP into another election, but will seek re-election as member of Parliament for North Central Windward, which he has been representing since 1994.

Caesar’s comment about the prime minister’s legal and moral authority came as Thomas told lawmakers that if the prime minister’s claim that the opposition needs the majority support of lawmakers to bring a motion of no confidence, such a motion would never be debated.

“If I may say this, you are saying it would not be debated?” Caesar asked the speaker.

“It will never be debated,” Thomas response.

“But how are you certain that there aren’t persons on this side of this House who would vote with the opposition?” Caesar said.

“Because the prime minister said on Monday that he is absolutely certain that his eight will stand,” the speaker said, noting the prime minister’s comments when the opposition gave notice of the motion of no confidence.

“So you are basing the minds and the mens rea today with something that the prime minister said without consulting me?” said Caesar, who had signed an alternative motion of confidence submitted to the House on Wednesday.

“The prime minister can’t speak — Mr. Speaker, with respect, how can you say that the prime minister, he doesn’t have the moral or legal authority to speak on behalf of Saboto Caesar at anyplace at anytime in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you do not know if I am going to vote with the opposition. You do not know that.”

“Very well,” the speaker said.

“And until then, a division is needed,” Caesar said, in apparent support of the prime minister’s call for a division of the house on whether the motion of no confidence should be debated.

“That is all I am saying,” Caesar said and urged the Speaker not to continue “along that line with the historical issue with the honourable prime minister”, a reference to the Speaker’s chronicling of how the House had reacted when the prime minister had brought motions of no confidence when he was an opposition lawmaker.

“Let us take it to a vote,” Caesar further said, urging the speaker to go ahead with the division of the house.

A contemplative House Speaker Jomo Thomas during Wednesday’s heated debate. (iWN photo)

The speaker responded:

“Honourable Minister of Agriculture, with all due respect, I think that presentation should have been made on Monday.”

“Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I think you are making light of my presentation,” Caesar said.

“No, I am not,” the speaker responded.

“Mr. Speaker, with respect, you are making very light of what I said. I made a fundamental point.”

“I understand the fundamental point.”

“No, no, no, Mr. Speaker, I take it seriously what I just said about a debate, it should have been made on Monday. You have lost me, Mr. Speaker.”

“No, I did not say that a debate should have been made on Monday you know,” the speaker responded.

“You said the point should have been made on Monday.”

The speaker said:

“I don’t think you are following. You have to follow the bouncing ball. You stood up and said that the prime minister of St. Vincent cannot speak for you.”

“And it’s true,” Caesar said.

Thomas continued: “But on Monday, the prime minister said that he knows that his eight will hold. You did not get up then. That’s the point I am making.”

“But, Mr. Speaker,” Caesar retorted, “you don’t know if I heard him say so. Mr. Speaker, you don’t know if I heard the prime minister say that. You are imputing that I heard the prime minister say that and I agreed with him.”

“Very well, very well. Honourable member, I take back the imputation,” the speaker said.

Outside of Parliament, the opposition New Democratic Party had latched on to Caesar’s comments.

At the NDP’s rally in Kingstown on Wednesday, Israel Bruce, the NDP’s candidate against Caesar in South Central Windward, noted the MP’s comments.

“So, my friends, if Saboto sits in Parliament with Ralph, he sits in Cabinet in Ralph and he tell you that Ralph doesn’t have the moral right to represent him, why should Ralph have the moral right to represent you, you, you, you and you?” Bruce said.

At the rally, Member of Parliament for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews, who is also a member of the NDP, weighed in on Caesar’s comments.

“Now, don’t forget you know, is Ralph who appoint Saboto as Minister of Agriculture and if Saboto say Ralph can’t represent him legally and morally, just like Israel Bruce say, then Ralph can’t represent me either.”

Meanwhile, at the rally, NDP senator and candidate for West St. George, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, attempted to link Caesar’s comments to the December 2015 general elections, the results of which the NDP is challenging with two petitions.

“… when a minister of government says that the prime minister has no legal authority, what is he saying? They thief the election! They’re not there legally. This is no joke. They thief the election and we will get our victory!” said Bacchus-Baptiste, who is one of the lawyers representing the NDP in the election petitions lawsuits.

In Parliament, the Speaker ruled against government lawmakers, saying that the opposition did not need majority support before a motion of no confidence could be debated.

He, however, allowed an amendment to the motion, which turned it into a motion of confidence in the government, which government lawmakers passed in the absence of the opposition, who stayed away for the post-luncheon part of the sitting.

The speaker, however, said on Thursday in a Facebook post that he erred in allowing the amendment to the motion.

6 replies on “Deeper meaning to Saboto’s ‘moral or legal authority’ comment?”

  1. It is possible that Saboto Caesar’s remark >> “Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves does not have the moral or legal authority to speak for him?” Was deliberately done as a message to the PM, The Speaker, The Finance Minister and the People at large. Saboto Caesar exhibited self-empowerment, revealing the men from the boys within the Government. Example:-
    • The Prime Minister just a few days prior to parliament, were heard on radio confirming that he instructed his son (the Finance Minister a senior member of parliament) to stay silent on the matter regards Yugge Farrell. My question: IS HE A MAN OR A BOY, a leader of a follower?
    • It is stated that on Monday when the opposition gave notice of the motion of no confidence. The prime minister said that “he is absolutely certain that his eight will stand.” Then few days later in the house, the Speaker of the House proceeded with the motion based on what the PM previously stated on the Monday. My question: IS HE A MAN OR A BOY, a leader or a follower?
    Saboto Caesar sent a clear message of his position as a leader and a senior Minister of the SVG Government. That he is a man and not a boy, a leader and not a follower. That he will not be dictated too but demands respect even from the PM, that his Vote is his on behalf of his constituent and “the Prime Minister does not have the moral or legal authority to speak for him.”
    Saboto Caesar learnt from the best: Ralph Gonsalves! Saboto is ready to take the torch as the leader of the ULP party, replacing his Mentor our SVG PM. The position he took confirms the fortitude of this man. Saboto Caesar.

    1. What you say is very good! It is obvious to me that The Boy Wonder is just daddy’s boy. On the one hand he has NEVER accomplished anything. On the other hand I suppose since he owes everything to daddy he is not his own man. Ralph knows his son is a willing puppet. Saboto has made it clear that he is no puppet even though he will still probably vote for anything Ralph tells him to. If he does not he will be made insignificant.

  2. I interpret sabotage’so words as a sense of deja vu. Saboto has clearly and succinctly saw the writing on the wall by Ralph acceding more and more to Wonder Boy with the ultimate intention for have him crowed prince Kim Jun Un. This must have had a negative impact on any attempt by Saboto to ever be the Prime Minister of St Vincent. Wonder Boy is way in front in the race to the PM office. If you give your opponent a head start it’s no way you can catch up with him even though you may be as fast as Hussain Bolt. This is the reality folks Wonder Boy is way in front. This is no causing a crackor fissure in the line to succeed the PM office. Mark my words aso may be the first fortune teller on this site.Needless to say I did not predict this before.

  3. Saboto is right to say aloud that the PM has no legal or moral authority to speak for him. However, the spin doctors will hope there is more behind his utterances. Alas, common sense dictates otherwise.

    However Kenton, I dont blame you. Sensitization is your forte!!!

    1. Vincylawyer its such a shame that you are so ignorant that in your attack of Kenton you can’t even use the correct word although you obviously think you have. You are a dunce.

      By the way Kenton who wrote this piece I don’t think its yours by a couple of things I note in construction.

  4. Simon the purpose of this forum is it an exercise in grammar or who can write the best , or to have a real dialogue on issues that affect the lives of VincentIan whether at home or the diaspora? Who gave your the authority to call someone a dunce? Who are you to question Kenton’s ability to write? As far as I know and have read his various articles, Kenton is a brilliant person.I don’t think Simon is qualified to ever untie Kenton’s laces. So watch your words because you sound like a moron on this site and accordingly, no one will take you serious.

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