The manipulation of a gullible Bajan electorate by the political class has seen corrupt and unethical behaviour now appear as normal. Perennial breaches of the government’s financial rules can be followed in recent Auditor General Reports to compare with how Barbadians follow Days of Our Lives on the CBC TV; routine.
Then there is the impotence of a committee of parliament meant to be important in our system of government, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), rarely mentioned by John Citizen, media and other members in civil society. PAC is a committee which seeks to give the power to members of parliament to investigate breaches of the government’s financial rules by public and elected public officials. We are therefore forced to ask, why are we witnessing an exponential breakdown in law and order in a country not too long ago known for its orderliness?
All around us in the neighbouring islands we see signs of social, moral and economic decay. In Barbados we believe that by continuing with the same polices which have been exposed to be ineffective in light of not so recent trends, we will avoid the pitfalls of our neighbours. There is a saying which many attribute to the Chinese that if you keep doing the same thing don’t expect a different result.
Careful observation of the Barbadian suggests unexplained confidence is placed in the politician to solve all of our problems. It seems that as a collective we have ceded our right to determine the kind of society we want to maintain. Even at our most troubling of times when reasonable Barbadians should expect our political class to put Barbados first, we have to endure an embarrassingly high level of parochial ‘pettyism’. Barbados can no longer boast of those things which separated us from the pact; statesmanlike political leadership, low crime environment, a well managed educational and healthcare system and last but not least a Judicature operating beyond reproach.
It will be left to the people to act. A report in the LA Times today should give Barbadians a clue about what will be required to achieve a different outcome – “a septuagenarian anti-corruption activist ended his 13-day hunger strike Sunday with a glass of coconut water to the cheers of supporters and the relief of a government that’s found itself on the defensive for the past fortnight”. One seventy something old man in India went on hunger strike for 13 days to force the hand of India’s government “to create a powerful, independent lokpal, or ombudsman, with authority to go after high-level corruption”. The time has come in Barbados where civil society will have to engage in a similar disruptive behaviour to send a clear message to the political class that we will take their bullshite no more. The march organized recently to demonstrate against the double murder in Salters, St. George is a good first step.
Will Barbadians have to march to make sure the anti-corruption legislation does not remain buried in a joint select committee of parliament?