Waiting for the Bell to be Rung
Every where one turns in Barbados the discussion is about when will the prime minister ring the bell. Is is unethical for the prime minister to have extended the traditional 5 year term to the 90 days allowed by the Constitution for what many believe was meant by the framers to address an extraordinary event? There is a view that the prime minister has no moral authority to lead the country given his thirst to create history by any means necessary.
In another blog BU outlined that any government preparing to contest a general election is regarded as lameduck where key decisions are delayed to await the mandate of the citizenry -see Barbados a Country in Abeyance.
In the current situation Barbadians have not only had to wrestle with the unprecedented decision of a prime minister prepared to dilute our way of democracy that has earned our little island a global reputation. One remembers Dame Billie Miller, the late Dame Nita Barrow et al asked to participate in international fora with a focus on electoral matters.
Given the anemic performance of the economy since the global crisis of 2008 one would have anticipated that the government would have taken the moral high ground to seek a mandate from the people they were elected to serve. One gets the impression these days that the people- where the power is meant to reside- have allowed the political class to hijack the intent of the Westminster system of democracy inherited.
While the focus is on the decision by the prime minister to extend the tenure of his government. There is the discussion waiting to be had on the campaign trail highlighted in an earlier blog -see Voting Checklist to Assist With Placing Your X. One can take the position that if we have waited 5 years what is a another 90 days. BU subscribes to the view that important to how our system of democracy is meant to work must be a high level of citizen advocacy. A self critique in this regard exposes a passive approach by Barbadians since the 30 November 1966.
Clearly the decision by the prime minister – perhaps advised by Hal Gollop- to invoke the 90 day period allowed by the Constitution of Barbados to extend his government serves to be another distraction at a time when the country needs to rally behind a plan that should be marshalling our scarce resources to succeed. How do we tweak our governance model to ensure our Parliament provides oversight as intended by the Constitution. The Public Accounts Committee and Committee of Privileges come to mind. The inability to respond to the perennial concerns of the Auditor General reports that reveals an unacceptable level of financial indiscipline and malfeasance. We could mention a crumbling infrastructure- the sewage problem on the South Coast, a stressed waste management system and pothole ridden road ways come to mind.
Given where Barbados finds itself Barbadians must begin to question what we will demand of our representatives when they come knocking very soon. It will not be enough to take their accustomed rhetoric. In extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary measures have to be taken. What are we as an intelligent people prepared to do this time around.