A Heather Cole Column – When Is the Next General Election?

Heather Cole

The ruling Administration has reneged on its Covenant of Hope where it promised to include Barbadians in governance. Perhaps one of the most frightening examples to date is Barbados becoming a Republic without a Referendum or consultation with the people. This article will focus on the impact on General Elections.

We have all heard it so many times that it has become second nature to state “elections in Barbados are constitutionally due every five years” and since the last general election was held in 2018, it would be expected that the next General Election will be held in 2023. The latter part of the statement is now in doubt.

The admission that the Constitution will come into existence after the Republic has started was brazen. This form of oppression is subtle. It should be the other way around with the Constitution first and the Republic after so that everyone can read and understand what they are getting into.

That admission has changed everything. One does not know how long a time period that will be. Since a date has not been specified, could it be a month, six months, a year, five years? The Prime Minister’s statement was not precise and therefore it cannot be measured. Hence, regardless of political affiliation, every member of the Barbadian public must acknowledge that this is a massive red flag.

There are several requirements to getting a mortgage and once these are met, the purchaser is provided the mortgage agreement and can get legal advice on the contents before signing. It is a legally binding document by which a person agrees to the principle, interest, payments, the terms and the other conditions. If the bank provided you with a piece of paper with just the title Mortgage on it and informed you that this will be the mortgage and asked you to sign without the principle, interest, payments, the terms and the other conditions being declared in writing, would you sign that piece of paper? Added to this you are told by the bank that the actual mortgage document with the written details will be available shortly after, not even on a specific date, would you sign? No one with all their mental faculties working would sign this blank mortgage document as the bank could write after the fact whatever it wishes on the document.

In the scale of things, the Constitution of Barbados is far more significant than a mortgage. It too is a legally binding document that will not only contain the laws that govern a mortgage but every other law that defines all aspects of life in Barbados. So how can the people of Barbados be asked by the government to agree to a change in the status of the State and a new Constitution with a blank document? What will be written on this document after the fact?

Essentially that is what the government is asking the people to do, to agree to a grand show and tell and later find out about the laws that make the new Constitution. It is a buy now pay later concept that is a trap for unsuspecting buyers.

There is no guarantee that elections will be held in 2023 as this is based off the present Constitution. Without a definitive time period of when the proposed Constitution will be ratified into law no one knows when the next General Elections will be. Will the document be laid in Parliament in a month, a year, or two years from the change of status? Only heaven knows.

In addition, one cannot even assume who will be legally responsible for issuing the writ that declares when elections will be held. One does not know if changes will be made to the Electoral and Boundaries Commission, if the matter of campaign finances will be a free for all, if payments to social media influencers will become part of the law.

The action by government to change the status of the island first and the Constitution after the change in status causes one to question the legality of this process. Due process is that the laws come first. What happens in the interim, emergency law or military law?

The matter of when the next General Elections are to be held is not to be taken lightly. There has been no Referendum, no terms of reference, no draft issued on the type of Republic or the contents of the new Constitution. There are just too many unknowns and people wanting to believe what they have no evidence of.

To the electorate, why is this entire process a secret? You are not at a Fair, the Constitution of Barbados should never be part of a lucky dip where after withdrawing your hand from the box you get the surprise of your life! Now is the time to stand up and fight for your rights.

209 comments

  • @ angela cox August 12, 2021 11:18

    Yes, it would be “A big FAT YAWN” to you, because your folly has once again been exposed.

    Like

  • Retired NAB employees are expressing concerns after having not received their pensions for the past TWO (2) MONTHS.

    Apparently, the Mia Mottley administration has put an end to the payment of those pensions, without having the decency of informing them of its decision.

    From what I understand, NAB personnel is saying they were told not to pay pensions without being told the reason why, while a Minister in the Finance Ministry said the NAB was directed to inform the retirees about the decision and placed the blame for pension payments on the previous DLP administration, while Minister of Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, claims she does not know anything about the situation.

    It is true the retired employees may not be entitled to pensions from both the NAB and NIS, as was indicated in several Auditor General Reports, the most recent being the report for financial year ended March 31, 2020.

    However, these elderly people would have based their lifestyle on present income. How about those who are paying rent or for their upkeep?
    After paying people pensions for as much as 17 years, to abruptly end payments without any prior notification, is heartless and inhumane.

    They could have simply held a meeting with the retirees or send them correspondence outlining the reason why the pensions are no longer being paid, because it contravenes government regulations.

    Or, they could have continued with the payments to the existing retirees and inform present and new employees they won’t be paid pensions.

    To ‘stop payments’ abruptly without prior notice and remain ‘tight lipped’ to their queries on ‘Brass Tacks’ or to persons calling the Ministries of Finance or Elder Affairs for information……….

    …………. and then attempting to pass the blame on to the previous DLP administration, is a WICKED ACT.

    Image, senior citizens being treated inhumanely by the Ministry of Elder Affairs.

    Just goes to show, “MIA CARES.”

    As I mentioned some time ago, I believe Mia Mottley will achieve ‘two firsts’…………. the first female Prime Minister and the first ‘one term government.’

    Like

  • @ David August 12, 2021 9:38 AM

    If the very “West Indian” politicians themselves do not demonstrate confidence in and support for the fledgling regional institutions [like the same CCJ and the comatose LIAT] under the umbrella of Caricom why are they being so disingenuous in their criticisms and attacks on the ordinary man and woman for not following them blindly like politically-brainwashed sheep.

    Why are these petty-minded two-bit politicians want from the people other than to massage their power-driven egos more taken up with scoring cheap political points to embellish their dull legacies rather than bringing genuine social and economic development to the same vulnerable ‘English-speaking’ sub-region of the Caribbean?

    Why can’t these tin-pot dictators, many of them UWI graduates, pool together their territories’ measly resources and have one external affairs agency to represent their common interests on the international scene instead of the current menagerie making themselves look like competing political baboons?

    Why is there need for so many (different) diplomats from those English-speaking former colonies to have their own separate offices (and costly to maintain) in the UK, across mainland Europe and North America with a similar basket of junkets planned for the African continent?

    Like

  • @Artax

    It is difficult to imagine this matter did not go before Cabinet of which Minister Forde is a member.

    @Miller

    Cannot fault your position as stated.

    Like

  • ArtaxAugust 12, 2021 11:38 AM

    @ angela cox August 12, 2021 11:18

    Yes, it would be “A big FAT YAWN” to you, because your folly has once again been

    Xxxxxxxx

    This one deserves a Drum roll

    How about a BiG FAT FRAT

    Like

  • “Why is there need for so many (different) diplomats from those English-speaking former colonies to have their own separate offices (and costly to maintain) in the UK, across mainland Europe and North America with a similar basket of junkets planned for the African continent?”

    their big DISHONEST plans for the continent got SQUASHED and now they will be WATCHED….they went to our ancestral lands with BAD INTENT…..don’t forget they now have one representing in the UAE, believe they also have one to take up a post in Morocco…two enslaver jurisdictions, with the Black/African population in Barbados footing that bill…..they MUST BE WATCHED….

    Like

  • Artax,

    Great comment on the pensions issue. Exactly what I said when they started withholding the pensions of medically unfit retirees who were also receiving NIS invalidity benefits. That almost cut the income of such people in half. Many would have had to choose between paying the mortgage and buying groceries! All this while prohibited from selling a pack of nuts while receiving an invalidity benefit. So… no way to make up the difference.

    In my opinion, a pension is deferred earnings. You have already EARNED IT. It is yours until death. In the case of early retirement, you get a REDUCED pension – only what you have earned. In the case of the NIS benefit, you have paid into the fund for such an eventuality. The two combined amount to almost exactly what you would have earned in salary. That tells me that the intent was to make the “invalid whole” and not to plunge him or her and often minor offspring into inescapable poverty.

    The two pension law was meant for old age pensioners. Mortgages finished. Children grown. Free healthcare. Can more easily adjust to a reduced income. Besides which their retirement would have been planned for for years.

    Caswell and I were of one mind.

    What the Government SHOULD do is ensure that those who are deemed unable to work are actually unable to work. Some can be retrained for less demanding employment. Some can work part time or for a few hours but not a whole day. Some can supplement their benifit working from home eg. a teacher may not be able to teach a class of thirty in a school setting buy he/she may be able to teach a few lessons from home. Some people should be assessed at intervals over a longer period to see how they have progressed. I think people are being written off too early.

    Being somewhat disabled and being a total invalid are two different things. Sometimes they award invalidity benefits to those who are LESS able but not UNable.

    That is where the NIS should be looking to save the money.

    Like

  • @Donna

    A reasonable position to hold if the guardian of the fund is able to discharge its responsibility.

    Like

  • Artists’ advice just as worthy
    In trying to propose and achieve massive changes in our systems of governance to address integrity, reduce corruption, promote growth and efficiency, and an ease of doing business and generally an ease of getting on with life without being wrapped in red tape, we will require not only the technical changes but massive changes in culture . . . . As I said in that public lecture a few years ago, we can pass the laws to facilitate change in governance systems but until we devise a strategy for cultural change, we may not get anywhere quickly.
    – Dr Ronnie Yearwood
    I agree with this point made in 2020 by Dr Ronnie Yearwood in another section of the press. This is how I said it in this column in 2019. “You cuh come wid all de strategy and fancy solutions you want. Ef you ain’t realise de need for a major cultural revolution, you ain’t saying nutten.”
    I am a spoken word poet. My area of expertise is filtering information and aspects of culture through my own consciousness and distilling it into creative verbal language for greater understanding and appreciation.
    Artists, who we often call cultural practitioners, have a major but overlooked role to play in the growth and development of this nation.
    However, the inclusion on the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee of people, like me, who are not of the political or technocratic class has been called into question.
    Now this past week, I and a colleague from the Republican State Transition Committee were publicly lambasted in another section of the press and accused of making factually incorrect statements. The statements were alleged to have been made during our appearance on a radio call-in programme.
    Fortunately, I was able to listen to a recording of the radio programme which confirms that our accusers were not accurate in their reporting of what was said. Much was misrepresented and misconstrued. Correspondence is being sent to the media house to correct the record.
    Poets have a reputation for being emotionally volatile and not overly concerned with facts. In which case, you may expect a poet to make that kind of mistake. But this characterisation of a poet is not necessarily true. Lawyers, in contrast to poets, have the stereotype of being able to put emotion to the side to deal only with the facts and reason. This, too, is not necessarily true, as my situation proves. Both lawyers and poets are first and foremost human beings.
    Human beings are a complex mix of emotions, reason, desires, intentions, and more. No human being is purely rational. We are shaped by experiences, environments and social situations. In short, human beings are complex
    creatures made of/by culture. What we call Homo sapien, or thinking man, would more correctly be called cultural man.
    The political culture of Barbados is full of toxicity. Anyone entering that domain must guard their spirit against becoming infected with this culture. If not, they will end up reproducing the toxicity. We desperately need a major cultural shift in our politics. Technical expertise in economics, business, law or whatever is great. But as long as this toxicity has a space in the hearts of our politicians, we are going nowhere quickly.
    The major point which I have been trying to make over and over again in this column over the years is summed up in the quote attributed to Peter Drucker – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Recently, more and more Barbadians have been repeating this quote, but the true depth of the statement and the difficulties which it implies are easily missed.
    The massive changes in culture which we require will not be achieved by the technical expertise of lawyers or economists alone.
    It will require other forms of expertise, particularly the expertise of artists. The transition of Barbados to a Barbadian head of state and beyond is not a purely technocratic, legalistic exercise and hence not only the domain of legal experts. Artists like myself have a role in the process too.
    Never will I run for political office or join a political party. I am not a constitutional lawyer. But that does not mean I have no worthy advice on the republican transition.
    It is up to the authorities if they take that advice or not.
    Adrian Green is a communications specialist. Email Adriangreen14@gmail.com.

    Like

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