By Kenrick Quashie
The leaders of the ULP administration are making the same mistakes that all other tyrannical administrations have made over time. They have created their own reality, which is vastly different from the reality of the majority of the people they govern. To this regime, the once illustrious title of “citizenship”, which is often referred to as the highest office of the land, has metamorphosed into “subject” and the government system into a “dynasty”.
Once upon a time, Dr. Gonsalves often boasted about having his “feet on the ground”. His actions suggest that he thinks he’s the one in the government who is the great communicator capable of whipping up national support, using his charisma and wit.
Alas, sir, the song sheet has changed and you are woefully out of tune with the choir. The reality on the ground is that your words, Prime Minister, are no longer trusted.
As a matter of fact, just because Dr. Gonsalves is involved or just because he speaks, makes his position unbelievable or reeking of political drudgery in some people’s minds. So many of us are over it and no longer live in this fantasy world! The simple truth is that a vast majority of Vincentians do not trust him.
Had the leaders of the ULP administration understood the reality on the ground, they would have known that people and their opinions are not indispensable. That as a people, we have evolved beyond the handouts, political victimisation, nepotism and scare mongering ways of being.
Interestingly, in politics, the modern citizen wants politicians to have some kind of experience; to be transparent and forthright; to be more, and do more; to be accountable and responsible.
However, longevity has a diminishing return. They recognise when their leaders are deteriorating as a result of age even to the point of using bodyguards as walking canes. This image paints a picture that is concerning. It makes one question whether or not their mental capacity is equally deteriorating. After all, we are all familiar with the saying, “Once a man; twice a child.”
The reality conjured up by the leadership of the ULP is that Dr. Gonsalves is loved and favoured. The truth is, people are over his leadership. The majority of Vincentians see that the ULP’s ship is sinking. The captain, much like the doomed Titanic, is headed straight for the iceberg and seems determined to take all the passengers on board to the bottom of the frigid seas with him.
Sadly, the legacy of this ULP administration leaves people more despondent about politicians. Dr. Gonsalves has helped to engender the belief that all politicians are tricksters, liars, abusers or manipulators. Top of the list is that they are far from being genuine. They say whatever it is they believe will get them into office.
A few examples with lasting impressions are:
1. Dr. Gonsalves, while in opposition and during his first term in office, articulated so well that prime ministers should only govern for two terms. He argued that after two terms they treat those they govern with contempt. Today, the same person boasts of being a five-star general looking to go into a 6th election. He has become combative and dismissive of those he governs. He is “king” and we are his subjects, doing his bidding.
2. While in 0pposition, Dr. Gonsalves and the ULP promised the people of SVG integrity legislation. As a matter of fact, a draft bill was published in the newspapers. The 2001 Manifesto by the ULP promised that within the first 100 days of being in government, integrity legislation would be passed in Parliament. We are now beyond 20 years of a ULP government and no such bill has surfaced. Instead, 15 years into governance we were given excuses as to why it is impossible to have integrity legislation. This for me was one of the biggest insults to our intelligence meted out by this government. Sadly, after 20 years, we are nowhere closer to creating a structure that will hold our leaders accountable for corruption, conflict of interest and so on.
3. Today, we have a leader who is consumed with ensuring his family continues to reign over his subjects.
History will always judge us. Those who have children appear to be more conscious of the legacy they leave for their children.
For those who boast today of being related to Dr. Gonsalves and some other leaders of this ULP administration, I hope they know that they are making it very difficult for their offspring to become future leaders in this country. That as a result of the poor legacy today any references in the future to the bloodline of this ULP leadership will be a liability.
The thought of potential leaders having to fight harder or ultimately being deprived of the opportunity to lead because of their relations to the current leaders of the ULP makes me so sad.
The Gonsalves’ reign is at its end. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the near future, will not want another Gonsalves-type reign and will, therefore, reject anything that evokes his era.
This administration has done a grave injustice to the psyche of our people. A future government’s highest task is to emancipate our people mentally. After over 20 years of this ULP style governance, there will be a lot of work to do.
Top of the list is to create an integrity commission with teeth.
I wish the work of George Orwell, namely “1984” and “Animal Farm”, become compulsory readings at secondary school. This ULP administration and more specifically Dr. Gonsalves have turned SVG into an Animal Farm, where “all animals are born equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
I long for better leadership in our beloved SVG. I long to see structures in place to reduce corruption, questionable actions and conflict of interest with real accountability. Finally, I long for selfless governance that treats citizenship as truly the highest office of the land.
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