The electoral system is one which Barbadians have been proud of until recent general elections. The cries have been getting louder and louder from the public that votes have been bought on election day. Yes we have had political candidates in the past wooing the public with “corn beef and biscuits” at the village shop but that is where it ended. How big is the problem of vote buying in Barbados?
We have a situation in Barbados where both political parties appear to be guilty of the practice of throwing cash and items around to garner support. Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart could hardly post general election to inform the public he witnessed vote buying on election day. His revelation was followed by a similar statement from an equally indignant Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite after his swearing in session at Government House. Today in the news general secretary of the Democratic Labour Party George Pilgrim stated he had advised members of the public who witnessed vote buying on election day to call the police. One wonders if the Prime Minister called the police when he saw what he saw.
Members of the BU family who were around in 2008 may recall similar concerns raised about vote buying. BU actually posted a blog – Activities In The Farm On Election Day. What is unfathomable is that with all the cash, iPods,watches, herb that was reported to have been distributed on election day, there was only ONE arrest made by the police.
For some reason an alarm was been triggered when we listened to Prime Minister Stuart who spoke so fiercely on this matter on election night (early morning). At this point we will attribute the feeling to gut and keep it under wraps for the moment. What we know, and former BLP candidate for St. Michael North West confirmed it on the afternoon talk show, vote buying is being practiced by BOTH sides. BU wonders what Dame Billie Miller, who has been part of Observer Groups to monitor elections all over the world, must be thinking given the state of affairs which has arisen in Barbados.
The most disturbing aspect of vote buying brings two issues together. Those being bought represent the block (ZR, Minibus) element who come from the most depressed segment of our society and are prone to criminality given their socialization. This group which needs to have certain negative behaviours unfrozen are now being encouraged to do wrong by surrogates who they know represent the political hierarchy of Barbados. The second issue is that the large sums of money being ‘gifted’ must be coming from deep in the coffers of corporate Barbados or even worse, from ill-gotten gains. Ordinary Barbadians are aware of the close relationship which Bounty has to some of our politicos. We will not state any more on this for the moment. All the indications are exposed to show that Barbados is well on its way to follow the path of a few of our neighbouring islands.
The question for some of us is what can we do to stem the drift. On the weekend a UWI, Cave Hill political scientist, Tennyson Joseph emphatically stated that there is practically little the government can do to stop the practice of vote buying. That was all we needed to hear. To quote Prime Minister Stuart, if we can’t solve these problems after exposing our people to tertiary education, why bother?
Good luck with building a society (please protect us from Pacha, Bush Tea and Baffy).