By Kenrick Quashie
The call for fresh elections and the addition of a referendum to insert a constitutional clause should not be a partisan political call. As much as politics has its own morality, this call is based on the tenets of democracy.
I hope that those who had a strong moral compass in 1998 can be similarly guided by it today!
The church, trade unions, progressives and intellectuals have to be the champions of this cause. This is not a party issue. It is an issue of principle. It is not tenable to have the current governance crisis continue in our beloved SVG.
The truth is that between 1998 and 2000, the ULP articulated all of the sound, moral and right arguments for fresh elections to be held. It is such a pity that today, they have to be reminded of their own voices and points that were properly ventilated 22 years ago.
Unfortunately, the country is politically divided. Too often very important issues of national importance are painted red and yellow. I have seen political leaders deliberately paint these issues with their partisan brushes in order to cloud their supporters’ judgement and to have their followers fall in line for political gains.
On this issue at hand, the line must be drawn.
To guard against the call for fresh elections becoming too partisan, I strongly believe that it must be married with a referendum on a constitutional amendment that speaks to the issue at hand.
We must go back to the archives from 1998 and pull out every speech, every comment, every call-in programme that presented the argument for fresh elections. The blatant hypocrisy needs to be highlighted.
Our trade union leaders, radio hosts and personalities, our journalists and other agents of democracy should be included in this call. The now defunct Organisation in Defence of Democracy (ODD) and its leaders, The Renwick Rose, Dr. Adrian Fraser, Bassy Alexander, Blazer Williams, Jomo Thomas, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, Junior Bacchus, Matthew Thomas, Curtis King, Arthur Bobb, Israel Bruce, Nicolette Balcombe, Asram Soleyn, Ronnie Daniel, Otto Sam, Phyllis Ralph-Browne, Noel Jackson and so many others owe this to the younger generations.
Those names I listed above go back to the period 1998 when, as a young secondary school student and later as a youth activist in the National Youth Council and National Student Council, l my views were shaped by their positions. I am personally urging you to find that same moral compass and articulate the same things you did then.
Oh how history repeats itself!
Pick up your pens, call into the radio programmes. Do so without prompting as you did then because it was the right thing to do. It is still the right thing to do.
Educate our students. Our teachers and principals have an obligation to inform and educate our students about the constitutional crisis that has repeated itself in this country. Initiate and facilitate the conversations among our students at all levels.
The NDP, as the party of choice by most voters in the Nov. 5 general elections, must rise to the occasion. You are the party of choice. No one can refute that or take it away from you. You are acutely aware of the winner takes all political system we operate in SVG and you have been on the sour end of this practice over the last 19 years. You cannot sit back and do nothing.
There is no time for rest. Find the strength, resilience and resources. Reorganise and proclaim your message. Tap into regional and international forums to get the moral and strategic support needed. Be the champions of true democracy in and for SVG.
It is important that you keep up the momentum that was so brilliantly displayed during the elections campaign. Ensure that your constituency councils and party arms are active. Return to the grassroot function of political education across the length and breath of this country. Practice what Dr. Friday urged his followers to do: Do not retreat #WeAreTheMajority.
Maybe I am naïve. However, it really pains me to see that many of us who have a responsibility to educate and enlighten choose to abandon it for political gains and association. The call to resolve this moral and constitutional crisis should not be seen as a betrayal of one’s party of choice. It should be seen as a call to national service — we honouring our pledge to our nation and democracy.
Church leaders often like to say that the “Voice of the People is the voice of God”. Show us that you believe this mantra.
It is time for us to be true to ourselves and our country.
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