Corruption Dry Talk
The blogmaster has participated in three general elections in the decade since Barbados Underground (BU) was established. There was the memorable 2008 general election when a young David Thompson wrestled the government from a tired Owen Arthur. In 2013 Freundel Stuart was given a second chance to be his own man after taking over from David Thompson who died in office on 23 October 2010. And in 2018 Barbados recorded its first female prime minister. Mia Mottley’s Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won 30-0 on the 24 May 2018.
The blogmaster supported the David Thompson campaign in 2008, disliked the slothful leadership of Stuart in 2013 and by default was left with limited options after a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) vandalized the Barbados brand in 2018.
A recurring message has been peddled by the duopoly in the three general elections. That of alleged corruption by elected officials.
- VECO and the Dodds prison
- CLICO $75,000 cheque paid to Owen Arthur
- 3S and Operation Freeflow flyover project
- Hardwood Housing Factory Inc
- CLICO Forensic report
- CAHILL Scam
- Pierhead Marina Project
- CLICO (again)
- Corruption by Members of Parliament
- National Housing PAC report
- Maloney (Rock Hard Cement)
Both political parties have been successful in bamboozling a gullible public in the three election cycles mentioned by promising that on winning the government corruptors will be ‘hanged, drawn and quartered’. The inability of the duopoly to deliver on the promise exposes the message from the duopoly for what it is, an electioneering scam.
A disappointment for many – and a significant contributor to the current state – has been the extent to which the traditional media has contributed to the hoodwinking of the public. By usurping its role as a guardian of our democracy to deliver on its mandate to fairly and accurately report the news- the democracy we aspire to have remains elusive. As a consequence of the vacuum created, we have seen the rise of citizen journalism taking advantage of the emergence of social media platforms in a technological driven world. The blogmaster’s observation contrasts starkly with a recent Barbados Today Editorial summarized in the following extract:
The role of the media, whether print, electronic or broadcast is to educate and inform and to present factual news and balanced opinions without the suggestion of partisanship or personal bias. The media sometimes fail on this score because mortal men and women are the media, and subject to personal foibles, corporate dictates and political linkages. They can – by their deliberate spin – influence public opinion to a significant degree.
But, thankfully, in most instances and in the case of Barbados specifically, the media operate within the realm of an educated public which easily discerns where unvarnished news starts and stops and where spin begins. We hold absolutely no brief for anyone, inclusive of politicians or political parties. But as a member of the media fraternity who, too, can be accused rightfully or wrongfully of not always carrying out that which it now trumpets, we feel it incumbent upon us to call a spade a spade and to address a particularly troubling scenario.
Although early in tenure the Mia Mottley government has been following the corruption script albeit with greater stridency, or so it seems. The recent arrest by US authorities of a former high profile minister has dovetailed government’s public consultation by the Committee on Integrity In Public Life Bill. The two events have magically served to pump up the corruption talk volume in the public domain. The blogmaster remains cynical that Barbados will be able to implement a transparency framework to efficiently hold officials ‘feet to the fire’. Our inability to manage key functions in the country like public transportation, NIS fund, waste management to name three support the view.
One of the reasons first offered by the former government for not implementing Integrity and Freedom of Information legislation promised in 2008 was the cost to operationalize. It has not gone unnoticed by the blogmaster that Sir David Simmons in his recent contribution to the Committee on the Integrity in Public Life Bill matter-of-factly indicated that the Bill as proposed will be ineffective unless related laws are enacted. He cited the need for a code of conduct to manage breaches, proper regulation of campaign financing and a few others.
The blogmaster is of the view Barbadians do not have the capacity to fairly assess the mirror image late Errol Barrow prophetically shared in 1986. The fact we have sunk billions of dollars in education since he delivered the Mirror Image speech serves as an indictment on our leadership and people.
Where do we go from here amidst the chaos and the lack of a realization by the majority of citizens that we need to achieve a new normal? The jury remains out 104 days into the Mia Mottley government.
A mantra of Prime Minister Mia Mottley is that many hands make light work. Unfortunately Barbados at this critical juncture in history – despite crumbling economic and social structures – is at its most politically polarized state ever. A condition that will make the task of rebuilding all the more challenging.
We live in hope!