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Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” April 19, 2024)

“Graveyards are full of indispensable men.” — Former French president Charles de Gaulle

“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing and of godlike men to want little.’ — Greek philosopher Diogenes.

PM Gonsalves’ recent comments about his role betrays a monumental lack of confidence in Saboto and Camillo. Since 2013, both men have been touted as potential successors to the veteran, ageing leader of the Unity Labour Party. More than a decade and three election cycles later, apart from the opportunistic misuse of our youth and the empty rhetoric about change, the vainglorious Gonsalves seems intent and content to die in office.

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Although the comments may seem dismaying, they are not surprising coming from a man who claimed in 2000 that he only wanted two terms in office but is now brazenly vying for a sixth. 

To mark his 23 consecutive years as ruler of SVG, Gonsalves said he told party leaders and supporters that the 2020 general elections would have been the last with him as head of the ULP ticket. 

“But I’m a party man, and the party leadership insisted I go again. That I’m healthy, they see my work ethic, my hours, that I’m still doing the work and long hours, and they see my work on a daily basis. I think the people see it, too … So, I’m going to be contesting. This is going to be the last occasion that I’ll be leading the ticket,” the prime minister said. 

Nonsense! PM Gonsalves made a similar declaration before the 2015 declaration. 

Of course, some in the party leadership would want him to run again. They have grown accustomed to sucking on the honeycomb of power. But you proclaim to be the leader with the vision. To keep running yourself and the country into the ground under the pretence that you love the people and the people love you demonstrates neither foresight nor insight. Such pompous remarks are indicative of a man lacking moral courage. You cannot love the country and deliberately choke off the leadership promise of Saboto and Camillo. You have a responsibility to let them emerge, fail or succeed while offering their best.

To add insult to injury, Gonsalves, who turns 78 in August, told his party celebratory rally on April; 7,  “They say that Ralph is old.  I’m the oldest man in Parliament. But I, the man with the youngest head … because God make me a rebel.” 

What a slap in the face of Saboto and Camillo, Carlos and Keisal, Luke and Curtis and those on Gonsalves’ youth advisory board. Gonsalves’ revelation that he possesses the youngest head in Parliament is a damning commentary on the state of the country. In those few words, Gonsalves described the cadre of aides around him as lazy, inept, and unworthy of leadership. He said he was the only rebel. He is the one thinking outside the box. He alone has the new ideas. He alone questioned things. He alone had a brain in his head, to study and write. Yes, he said we, but he talked only of himself writing 12 books in a decade. 

As if that was not enough, he invoked God’s name. He disclosed that God made him a rebel with ideas, so he had to continue as leader of the party and, presumably, the country. You ever hear more mess! The troubling reality is that the young people on stage jumped and pranced as Gonsalves span such a discouraging tale. It’s all about me, only me and no one else but me.

That mumbo jumbo is intended to cover up a deep-seated state of discontent in the ULP and the country. Many in the party and country have slowly come to realise that Gonsalves is primarily concerned with elevating and preserving his family and close friends.  In times past, when Gonsalves spoke of the project, many automatically put national before the project. Most have lived to see what Gonsalves meant. The project is all about him and less about the nation.

Gonsalves stage-managed his son Camillo’s political rise. On his return to SVG, Camillo, a man of much credit and merit, was guaranteed one position after the other: senior crown counsel, ambassador to the United Nations, foreign minister, and finance minister. Significantly, Clayton Burgin was edged out of the safe East St George seat, and  Camillo, with no organic connection to the constituency, was encamped there. He won handsomely in 2015 but stumbled badly in the 2020 elections. 

But citizens have grown tired of the Gonsalves. Dissent is evident even within the party. Gonsalves arrived at the last party convention to chants of Caesar! Caesar! They wanted a new leader but indicated a distaste for a Gonsalves dynasty. The clear preference was for Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar. But Gonsalves would have none of it. It was then that he decided he would die in office rather than pass the leadership to anyone but his son. 

These facts explain the real reason behind Gonsalves’s decision to lead, even though his continued leadership of the party and country is a drag on both’s forward movement. Someone needs to convince him to demit office and allow the next generation of leaders to rise and shine.

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

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

4 replies on “No confidence in Saboto and SVG”

  1. Jomo your article was not well balanced and since you are seen as a critic of the Ulp and the comrade for whatever grudge and pain that was inflicted on you is fully understandable. One can fully understand why your are a torn in the flesh of the Comrade, given that you were cast aside and made redundant by the same Comrade for whatever reason. Anothing thing which I observed was the the word “aging” is spelt as ageing” This is indeed a typo.

    Sobto Caesar has not clearly differentiate himself from thr bosom of the Comrade. He reaped praise on him when he clearly does not deserve it and accordingly, commands no respect from him. He tries to be a photo copy of the Comrade in his mannerisms and conduct at all relevant times..

    Minister Soboto was given one of the most problematic ministry to manage and with some fault of his own. The ministry of agriculture is on a downside trajectory. The words of the author is somewhat undeserving, given the nature of the originator propensity to be critical of the Comrade.

  2. You could have changed things but u decided not to accept the no confidence vote brought by the NDP you have no legs to stand on with your opinion or writing this article.

  3. Jomo Thomas can it be said that you are suffering from a form of dissonance resulting from the conflict between you and the PM? Let’s examine the extent of the penalty that the PM imposed on Jomo:

    (1) Destroying his political career
    (2) Evoke scorn in the eyes of the area Vincentian when you were a speaker of the house, impartiality exposed.
    (3)Financial impact, Jomo left the post earlier than intended.

    One can why Jomo has a beef with Comrade, a form of delayed dissonance.

  4. Take warning says:

    Is. is true. bato bin say ah man so dangerous dat if he cee um coming down the road he turning back or walk the other side ah the road. ??

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