By Philbert Cato

The word destiny, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, “is the force that some people think controls what happens in the future, and which cannot be influenced by people”. To rule means “to control”.

In 2001, the song “Rule My Destiny”, by Buju Banton, was like an advertising piece, when the then opposition Unity Labour Party wanted to get into power. The artist who did that song, was supposed to be back in SVG, to remind those who are now in charge that they had planned to help us “rule [our] destiny,” but have failed! For some strange reason, the planned visit didn’t come into effect.

I see the banners of the ULP saying “Lift SVG Higher.” Well, why should we give them another term to prove that they can lift this blessed land higher? If for the past 19 years they haven’t been able to do that, would they be able to do it in 24 years? And, how do they plan to “lift SVG higher”?

What are their plans to “lift SVG higher”? These guys have run out of ideas since their first term in office! They have killed banana and the agricultural industry, which has been a bedrock of our economy! Gone are the days when the average Vincentian had his independence! Gone are the days when most people had their own homes and, often, own vehicles! Gone are the days when one could have found a hand of ripe bananas in a banana field. Now we have to pay at least 50 cents for every grain (finger) of banana that we eat!

The LEADER boasts that when he came into power that there were 700 persons on poor relief. Now there are 7,000! And, of all things, he plans to increase the number who would be getting such assistance, if he should be returned to power! People shouted cheers for him. What we don’t realise is that what he is saying was that since he got into power that we have had more persons whom they have made poor! Made poor by a 1,000% increase! A 10-fold increase on poverty — with plans to make it bigger, if they should be returned to power! Are we going to be “lifted higher” by being given more poor relief/by being made poorer? What a disaster!

They boast about a vibrant health-care system. A diabetic friend of mine told me that in 2019 he collected two packs of syringes for that year, i.e., 20 syringes! Imagine 20 syringes for 365 days, having to take two shots per day! But, that was not the worst part of it! There were many times that there was not even a vial of insulin available to use with these extremely few syringes! And, that was only one person’s pain I mentioned. There were thousands more, who, faced with similar challenges, so much so that they often had to have their prescription filled at privately-owned pharmacies! In 2020 it has been much easier to get medicine. Why? Could it be because this year is the year for general elections?

The health care has seen how unprepared we were for the first COVID-19 case! Since then we have had the needless deaths of so many of our loved ones as a result of dengue because of the negligence of the Ministry of Health! They claimed that they fogged the schools before schools reopened. So, it seems to me as if Vincentians live in schools! You listen to these people and you wonder if they ever went to school, for the foolishness that they often tell us, or they think that we have never been to school!

Their response to the first COVID-19 case was also evidence of their “wisdom”. The leader talked about COVID-19. Then he talked about their response — a mini budget. Then he talked about COVID-19 again. I wonder why the LEADER couldn’t have had someone edit his speech before he went on air to broadcast it! There was absolutely no sequencing, nor cohesiveness in his speech!

Since the COVID-19 response, though, he has seen the need to give assistance to parents of Grades 3 and 4. I don’t know if the virus was affecting these parents! He gave $500 to the farmers who apparently were also affected by the virus! There was also a “Love Basket”, cheaper barrel reception at the Customs and Excise Department. What are these to me once every five years? These gifts work out to be in some cases less than $10per month … for five years! My dog gets food valued much more than that per month!

There has also been the “need” for some road jobs to patch up the roads that were neglected for years! We were also given jobs to clean up from the dengue fever attack! What nonsense! (Anyway, I think that’s a safer term than calling it “Election Jobs”). The fogging, which is a far more effective method, has been done so few times that there are so many mothers of one child, who have lost their loved ones, and children made motherless,  because of the negligence of the Ministry of Health, or the government as a whole! My destiny!

There are so many persons who get jobs, not based on meritocracy, but on their political affiliations! Many get jobs that they aren’t qualified to do. Some retirees even have contracts, while there are so many young, qualified persons who cannot get any jobs. What has the “Education Revolution” done? It gets everyone into secondary schools, giving much more work to these teachers. Yet, when these young people leave schools, they cannot enter into the “job revolution” market. As a matter of fact there is also a great increase on unemployment in our country!

Then, we have the YES programme that gives the young people a pittance for nine months! What a failure of a programme! I heard that the YES workers were asked to stay until November/ December, because of COVID-19. I wonder if the LEADER plans to find a cure for the virus at that time! How much more would he use to try and fool this populace! My destiny!

Vincentians, don’t be fooled! If we return these people to power, we will pay for all the “kindnesses” we have been receiving from these people! VAT might even be increased to 17% like that of Great Britain! Many countries of the Caribbean that have VAT don’t charge VAT on everything. Some have even decreased VAT, too. We have VAT on everything, and have never have had it decreased. Imagine 16% is already too much for us, do you think we can manage 17%? What a destiny!

There are better ways of letting me “rule my destiny” than to have me depending on you for these gifts that happen every 5 years, and/or giving me poor relief! Why not create some industries to help us get jobs? Why not create programmes that help to empower us/help us develop entrepreneurial skills? Or, is it better to, as one leader said, “Keep them in poverty, and you rule them forever?” Is this the LEADER’S way of ensuring that he stays in power forever!? Help me to rule my destiny —  don’t keep my destiny under your control!

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].