By *Jomo Thomas

(“Plain Talk” – Jan. 3, 2019)

Our country is a country of traitors. Statements like “Vincy to the bone”, “Beloved SVG” and “Country before self” reflect empty glib talk with no real meaning. We are a country of traitors, and treacherously so. We are traitors to our family, friends, neighbours. We are traitors to ourselves. We betray our conscience every day of our lives.

Last Tuesday, while parliament met to discuss the 2019 estimates of EC$1.067 billion, our Court of Appeal delivered one of the most stinging rebuke to our country’s executive branch. This case had to do with an appeal from a decision rendered by Justice Brian Cottle. Three teachers, who contested the elections for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in 2010, were refused readmission into the service after they failed to win their seats. The teachers, Elvis Daniel, Kenroy Johnson and Addison “Nash” Thomas were also refused benefits such as pension and gratuity.

Two things flowed from the critically important decision. The most important of which was that our courts, as is so often alleged by opposition parliamentarians and supporters, are not in Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ pocket. The other was that government has some serious thinking to do regarding its dealings with the citizenry generally, but more so its perceived enemies. Good governance principles, ever crucial to a democracy, demand that the government pause from its cocksure approach. The days of rulers are rapidly coming to an end. These times require inspiring leadership.

No one, except those blinded by hyper partisanship, can deny that, as in the case with Otto Sam, the government, having vanquished Daniel, Johnson and Thomas at the polls intended to “economically assassinate” them. The refusal to rehire them reflected a callous disregard for the lives and welfare of fellow citizens. These were longstanding teachers, who, among them, chalked up 101 years in service to our children’s education. To promise then renege on the collective bargaining agreement manifested a bad faith.

Anyone schooled in the law ought to have recognised from the very first paragraph that this case was going to go badly for the government. Justice Baptiste writing for the court opened his judgment thus:

“It is unremarkable for the citizen to invoke the Constitution as a means of redress in respect of action by the State where it is alleged that rights guaranteed thereunder are being contravened or are threatened with contravention. This case presents the rather remarkable scenario in which the State engages the Constitution to avoid the provisions of article 16 of a collective agreement it entered into with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Union of Teachers (the ‘Union’), on the ground that that article is ultra vires the Constitution.”

It was all downhill after the initial salvo. But this column is not intended as an elaborate outline of the Court’s decision. This column is about us and our betrayal of core principles, betrayal of love ones and colleagues if and when its fits our political narrative. We pause here only to say that whilst the Court refrained from reinstating the teachers on the ground that the judiciary does not want to usurp the role of the executive, it ordered the government to pay pension and gratuity as well as cost in the matter below and in the appeal. You can be sure Daniel, Johnson and Thomas are having their best sleep since they lost their bids to become elected parliamentarians.

Our position has been unwaveringly consistent from the beginning. Eight years ago, on a picket organised by the People’s Movement for Change picket, we said: “Our focus today is to speak to the fact that the collective Bargaining Agreement between the teachers and the government was legal and valid. It was legitimate and the government should honour that agreement.”

But what has been the position of others. Those supporting the government said that the agreement was invalid because it violated the Constitution. They said the idea to allow teachers to contest elections were not real, meaningful or intended for implementation because it was purely aspirational. Conveniently forgotten was the oft-touted notion that the clause demonstrated the forward looking, peopled centred policy of the Unity Labour Party.

The teachers, Daniel, Johnson and Thomas, were criticised for throwing cold water on the vaunted Education Revolution.

Worse, because of that cardinal sin, they were not readmitted into the system. They lost their jobs, pensions and benefits. Party supporters cheered on such views and actions. Some compounded the vindictiveness and spite by gleefully declaring “good fo dem”. Fortunately, we have a judiciary that is true to the fundamental principles of due process of the law and fairness.

Since this decision government supporters have maintained a shell-shocked silence.

But they are not to be outdone. While generally elated about the decision, which came on the heels Otto Sam, Petitions and PSU defeats for the government, opposition supporters refuse to drop the mantra that our court is in Gonsalves’ pocket. They claim that Gonsalves gives one sometimes. They say to argue about objectivity and independence of the court is to succumb to the trick argument that the 2015 elections were free and fair because the government narrowly won eight seats to seven. Many in the opposition do not subscribe to the view “you win some, you lose some”. Once the decision goes against it the court is corrupt.

And the band plays on. We have suspended our common sense. We refuse to engage our good sense. We abandon, betray and sacrifice our conscience on the altar of political expediency. Our work colleague fails yet again to get a promotion, but we find ways to explain away why he is not favoured. Our neighbour’s son does not get into the school his grades qualifies him for, but that’s okay because my daughter is right where I wanted her.

Some of us afford the good life because of our profession and job, therefore those who live in poverty and cannot find work need to get off their lazy asses. We all profess to be saint when in our hearts and minds we know we are devil, devil, devil.

In traitorous times like these the New Testament Scripture verse John 4:20 rings true. “If any one says, I love God, and hate his brother (sister), he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother (sister) whom he sees, how can he love God whom he cannot see.”

Unless we come to know and be true to ourselves, we will continue on a slippery slope to hell.

*Jomo Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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 news.iwitness@gmail.com.

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 news.iwitness@gmail.com.

13 replies on “We are a country of traitors”

  1. JUST BECAUSE THE CASE WAS RULED FAVOURABLE TO THE TEACHERS DOES NOT EXEMPT YOU FROM YOUR HOT SEAT IN HELL. REMEMBER YOUR DECISION IN THE NO CONFIDENCE VOTE. YOU AVOIDED THE SLIPPERY SLOPE AND WENT STRAIGHT TO HELL. DONT THINK THAT WE FORGET.

    1. This not surprising, after Jomo started his other essay by saying stupidness like don’t pursue property. We didn’t need to hear the rest. Why doesn’t he grow a beard and dreadlocks then move to the hills? live off nature. Jomo could even pretend that he is a tree, nature will provide for him.

  2. The Cumrod has the massa mentality whether we the people of Vincy believe it or not, that’s the stark reality..”how dare these low down good for nutting people want to challenge me,I’ll put them in their place and teach them a lesson like I did bigger Biggs and Mr Sam” is what the Cumrod would say to himself.
    He’s a strongman leader who hates to be challenged by the people whom he thinks he owns.. it shows in most everything he does.If you look past his sweet talk and fake smile you’ll see that beneath the facade the Cumred wants to instill fear in the hearts of the vincy populace..sure sign of a strongman leader.
    St Vincent needs to move past this kind of vindictive leadership style and I’m not sure that the NDP’s leadership style would be any different.That’s the conundrum we the voters will be facing come next elections.

  3. Jomo Thomas makes some good points in this piece but his use of the term “traitor” is simplistic and misplaced if only because we have never been true “Vincyland über alles” (SVG above all else) patriots so cannot now be labelled as treasonous to values we never, ever shared.

    Even the less volatile term “hypocrite” would be misplaced because it implies that we truly understand, believe, and cherish the distinction between hypocrisy and sincerity.

    Perhaps the best term would be “opportunism,” a trait that allowed our ancestors to survive during the heinous slavery era and that allows us to continue to survive, even thrive, during this more liberated stage of our short history as a people.

    Opportunism, guile, permissiveness (in both moral belief and behaviour) and other dog-eat-dog attributes are key adaptive traits in low opportunity societies that have experienced massive cultural destruction, as we certainly did because of our years as a slave society (1719-1838).

    If opportunism, guile, and permissiveness appear amoral (or even immoral), they nevertheless are visible from the highest to the lowest ranks of society in all social, political, legal, and economic spheres of life in our deeply divided and fractured piece of Caribbean civilization.

    Jomo Thomas is also wrong about his assertion that, “The days of rulers are rapidly coming to an end.” If anything, they are just beginning, at least in societies like our our own, if only because most of our people love to be lead by charismatic and cocksure big men, as the ULP’s free and fair four-in-a-row victories clearly show.

    “Inspired leadership” in the Caribbean has been always about winning elections or seizing power (as in Cuba and Grenada). Nothing more, nothing less.

    C. ben-David

  4. Should Jomo Thomas had not been one of the lawyers on the case, would he had declare that conclusion “We are a country of traitors”? It is however honorable of him that he stated ‘We” declaring himself to be also a ‘Traitor’

  5. Dr. Kwame Daniels says:

    “Our country is a country of traitors. Statements like “Vincy to the bone”, “Beloved SVG” and “Country before self” reflect empty glib talk with no real meaning. We are a country of traitors, and treacherously so. We are traitors to our family, friends, neighbors. We are traitors to ourselves. We betray our conscience every day of our lives.”

    Your statement above is timely, and typical of the house-slave field-slave mentality that is rampant in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Savage to the bone we are, and are cheerfully ready to assassinate the characters of our brothers and sisters and neighbors without realizing the long-standing negative impacts that can be inflicted on their lives. Truely, we all profess to be saint when in our hearts and minds we know we are devil, devil, devil.

    1. I wonder if Mr. Jomo Thomas know’s that we are now into the third millennium. Still can’t tell his ass from a hole in the ground but he going around calling the whole nation traitors. Trying to self-justify something? Long time this would have already warranted a good Bullpistle. Shit-Keizer and Drunking-Parmer could be laughing at him in their graves.

      1. Jomo take over from Brian Doggy as leader of the monkey-band in Ole mass. Even Hardwood and Cayliss would also be laughing at Jomo in they grave. I wonder what they would think of all this mess that Ralph and Jomo them got us in.

  6. Who is jomo trying to fool by stating that the court isn’t in the pocket of the ulp? The local magistracy and high is in their pockets, no doubt about it. The ulp gov and their minions never lose a case brought in either the magistrates or the high courts. What jomo means is – the appeals court is not in the pocket of the ulp, and that those fortunate enough to afford to appeal have a chance at justice.

    1. Nonsense. The government loses criminal cases in the magistrates and high court all the time, often because of police incompetence. In fact, many people fail to report minor crimes to the police because they know it is a waste of time.

      Why are you spreading fake news (also called liared commess)?

  7. Having collected his grubby thirty pieces of silver, this confused man Jomo Thomas, a man who is having some difficulty with his perception, calls the rest of us traitors, when in fact the very charge in true reality, remains very squarely and very conspicuously at his own door for his evident betrayal of the Vincentian mass over the last eighteen years.

    This betrayal of the Vincentian mass by him, is evident in his continued support of the extended Gonsalves family regime and their continuing rule over us through their soviet style oppression, deceit and glaring lies, gross cronyism and overt nepotism.

    This very confused man Jomo Thomas here finds time to lecture the rest of us on betrayal, questioning our loyalty not only to God and church but also to state and to one another.

    What a thing that this little pipsqueak quisling, this gross collaborator in our continued mass ruin, should now turn around and question the rest of us, who are here suffering under his and his Government misrule.

    He tells us that we are fortunate in that “we have a judiciary that is true to the fundamental principles of due process of the law and fairness” but may I remind Jomo Thomas of that remark by Aristotle (384 BC-322 AD) “one swallow does not a summer make nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

  8. We are traitors to ourselves. We betray our conscience every day of our lives.

    You are quite right Jomo, remember the ruling you made on the vote of the ‘no confidence matter’, you could have rectified that at the next session but you chose not to. “We Betray our Conscience every day of our lives”

    Jomo you are working with a bunch of people who have no morals or scruples, stop supporting them and show the people who you can be, not what you are.

  9. Jomo is what he is, a confused quisling! The bible ask “can the Ethiopian change his skin or the Leopard its spots” See “The African origin of Civilization myth or reality” by Cheikh Anta Diop for an insight into who were those original Ethiopians that the Bible were referring.

    ( https://jazzdagama.com/imperatives/cheikh-anta-diop-the-african-origin-of-civilization-myth-or-reality/ )

    In brief, they were one and the same peoples of African origin, as those who were taken into slavery and shipped to the Caribbean and the Americas. The very the forebears, ancestors of Jomo and other of today’s Vincentians. They cradled civilization but see what we have become now today, reduced as a result of individuals like Jomo. Fifth columnist and sympathisers who collaborates with the oppressor in our oppression.

    So can Jomo change? Jomo needs to take a deep look back inside himself and ask himself this question, who indeed is the traitor to the cause of self-worth and emancipation.

    For Jomo has been at the heart of this fraudulent and failed so-called socialist experimental project of the Gonsalves family and remains so to this day, yet this little man dare’s to write that the rest of us are “traitors to ourselves”!

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