An opposition lawmaker is claiming that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is afraid to be succeeded in office by someone who might investigate his tenure.
New Democratic Party senator, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste told her party’s town hall meeting in New York last weekend that even the Prime Minister is gripped by the fear that she says pervades St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The senator said that three government parliamentarians had told her that they wanted to leave Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party administration but were afraid to do so.
Bacchus-Baptiste did not identify the politicians or say whether they are current Members of Parliament, but said one had approached her in 2014.
“My message here tonight is sober. I need to bring a message of hope, a message of love for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that is what I intend to do as a candidate for West St. George. To remove the fear and the hopelessness that pervades St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Bacchus-Baptiste, a lawyer who is the NDP’s proposed candidate for West St. George in the next general elections, constitutionally due in March 2021.
She said that when she goes through the constituency, there is “this aura of oppression, depression, hopelessness and we have to lift that from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Bacchus-Baptiste said she wanted to bring a message of Vincy love rather than ‘Labour Love’, the slogan the ULP used in its campaign for the 2015 elections — in which it was returned to office for a fourth consecutive term.
“You see, they didn’t realise how divisive that was. When you say Labour Love, you are saying give the jobs only to labour supporters, to my child as they do it. So we say ‘One Nation, One People, One SVG’,” she said, reciting the slogan of NDP president and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday.
Bacchus-Baptiste said that persons in SVG and even in the diaspora are being affected by “phobophobia” — or “fear of fear”.
“The undeniable legacy of the ULP regime, the Ralph Gonsalves regime is fear or phobophobia,” she said.
“This is very serious because we must conquer this fear that pervades St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So most of the time, it appears to be real and what happens, we become crippled by this fear. We become apathetic, even immune to this corruption. That is what is going on in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Our fear has suppressed our humanity …”
Bacchus-Baptiste said part of what makes corruption so dangerous is the cynical response it generates that “they are all corrupt…” and hence making corruption commonplace and even acceptable.
“And you hear these ULP apologists saying that the NDP, they ain’t have no plan, they’re not ready yet, they’re just the same.
“All of this to excuse their inaction and to bury their conscience for seeing what is happening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but still supporting the ULP.”
The senator said the irony is that ULP supporters “live in more fear than us”.
“They fear that they would lose their jobs, they fear that they would lose their perks, they would be victimised.
“They live in fear. And what is absolutely more ironical is that Ralph Gonsalves himself has now become the object of the fear that he has created in St. Vincent.
“He wants to go home. He is tired, he is fed up, but he is afraid to go. Why? Why? Because he is afraid of his own history and his own record and if he doesn’t set up a puppet to take over from him, then he would be investigated.
“His 17 years will be investigated. So he is crippled by his own fears,” Bacchus-Baptiste said of the 72-year-old leader who recently hinted that he would seek another term as prime minister, contrary to previous statements.
Bacchus-Baptiste said that three separate parliamentarians came to her office and told her that they wanted to leave the ULP but they were afraid to say so.
One of them was so fearful that they called her secretary and made an appointment as if they wanted a legal matter dealt with, she said.
This happened around 2014 and the persons told her that come election, she would be taking the platform for the NDP, the senator told the town hall meeting.
“Election came and there I saw the person sitting in his red shirt on the ULP platform. This is the type of fear I am speaking about. Another one and another one. Yes, Ralph, all your parliamentarians — most of them — they want to leave but they are fearful and so we have to pray, we have to break this fear that is over St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Bacchus-Baptiste said another reason for the fear is the spate of crime across the country.
“And persons are saying they have to lock in their house early, they have to close down early. But not even there, they are safe,” she said, noting that radio host Carlisle Douglas was shot while in his patio.