By *Jomo Sanga Thomas
(“Plain Talk” Nov. 25, 2022)
“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness … Have you no sense of decency.” Attorney Joseph Welch scolding Senator Joseph Mc Carthy in 1954 in the U.S. senate.
Every time decent, objective citizens think that PM Gonsalves’ occultist romance with power has struck rock bottom, the leader of our country dredges the sewer to take us to a new low. We keep fooling ourselves that Gonsalves possesses a civilising mind. We need be ensnared no further.
For all his accomplishments in law and politics, his erudition in philosophy and poetry, and his rhetoric about love for people and the nobleness of our Caribbean civilisation, Gonsalves remains a tortured soul, so vaingloriously consumed with self-destructive habits and lifestyle that he is intent on taking all of SVG down a nasty path to political oblivion with him.
Only a diminishing romp comprising minstrels, minions and jesters, sections of the poor, vulnerable and unemployed continue to imbibe and applaud Gonsalves’ intoxicating dependency gospel presented on the decorated platter of handouts, payoffs, flattery, mamaguy and demagoguery.
We have been beguiled for too long. The man is beyond redemption. He has forever and a day signalled his unrepentant, “unredemptive” ways. We expect too much from a political animal who says what he means and means what he says. If he promises you slow death through the refined art of strangulation by economic assassination or worse, find the antidote in progressive activism and struggle.
After all, this is a man who declared, “I am not a statesman. A statesman is a dead politician.” Believe him. Flies and roaches are not amenable to a sterile, sanitised environment. All too often, Gonsalves grabs a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito.
Take his most recent outburst when opening the Uptown Vegetable Market. Behind the warped logic of fairness and equity, he branded lawyers security risks and goaded the registrar to prevent them from parking in the courtyard. Two weeks before, Gonsalves called on the police high command to employ more actionable intelligence to trap and arrest criminals. In declaring lawyers security risks, one expected to see some of them doing the hand-cuffed “perp walk” to the Serious Offences Court, escorted by heavily armed Black Squad personnel.
But alas, there are no sedition or treason charges. And to think that the SVG Bar Association, led by the self-proclaimed “Big Cat” did not rise up in angry indignation against the slander defies logic. No columnists nor editorialist were moved to call Gonsalves to rise above his renewed race to the bottom. The real story is about blurring lines and the separation of powers.
Citizens are left to speculate who in the legal profession troubled and provoked Gonsalves and his clansmen. One thing is certain, with Kingstown being a free parking zone, Gonsalves’ erratic outburst had little to do with free parking for lawyers. His motives must be more sinister.
His decision has already had a negative impact on the administration of justice. Jurors are no longer allowed to park in the precinct of the court. Consequently, many show up late for court because they are made to hunt for a parking space. When anger sets in, reason takes flight. Such petty, vindictive and myopic antics pass for policies in SVG.
One is left to wonder how Camillo, Saboto, Jimmy, Keisal, Carlos, Curtis, and Speaker Rochelle sit quietly and allow Gonsalves to blast away their political future with such backward policies and actions.
Does any of these younger and, hopefully, more enlightened members of the governing party stop and say, “Boss, on what legal basis do you command the registrar to do as you instruct? Is she not a judicial officer who is independent of your dictates? On what legal basis is a legally elected member of the legislature denied parking?”
When the building was constructed over 200 years ago, it was intended to house the legislature at the top level and the high court on the ground floor. Parliamentarians and lawyers were allowed easy access. It was a courtesy to the functions they performed. Opposition Parliamentarians assist in making laws and carry a watchdog function to ensure that our government is kept on its toes. Those on the government side initiated legislation and executed the laws of the land.
No one in their right mind would brand them a privileged class for doing their elected civic duties. We have a civilisation to build. Imagine a country where PM Gonsalves, after his long years of service in the Parliament and as PM, is denied basic courtesies based on sheer spite. We have a democracy deficit in SVG. Our country needs to develop a sense of political hygiene. We need an initiative in good governance. Angry populism intent on punishing those you despise has no place in modern developing society.
In his assault on lawyers, Gonsalves unleashed an unjustified attack on a Vincentian citizen born in the sister isle of Jamaica. For expressing puzzlement about the courtyard ban, Gonsalves described the female attorney as a Jamaican woman married to a Vincentian man who craves special privilege. With this outburst, his empty rhetoric about the ennoblement of our Caribbean civilisation was laid bare.
Gonsalves’ rancid divide-and-rule tactics are nothing new. We are reminded of his infantile assault on our Garifuna brothers and sisters. After Arnhim Eustace promised to bestow honorary citizenship on those exiled by the British from our land in 1797, Gonsalves opposed the plan on the spurious ground that Garifunas would come and take our houses, land and jobs. Yet he parrots the idle phrase about reparations for the genocide of our Garifuna ancestors. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice, and I expose myself as a damned fool.
How could such a white elephant of a man be so small? The wise elders have an answer. You can take the man out of the gutter; you would be hard pressed to take the gutter out of the man.
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
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