Red Bag Politics
Less than one month after the Phillip J. Pierre’s St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) won the government in St. Lucia from Allen Chastanet’s United Workers Party (UWP) the Deputy Governor General read the following in the Throne Speech:-
My Government in recognition of the widespread, unprecedented reports of alleged corruption during the term of the last administration will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of corruption and Government. This appointment is expected to be completed soon. My Government will strengthen the integrity commission to return our country to a system that respects our democratic norms and the rights of the people. My Government will reactivate the bipartisan parliamentary committee to review Justice Suzie d’Auvergne Constitution report and the parliamentary recommendations, with a view to adopting final recommendations for implementation.Extract from Throne Speech (St. Lucia)
The appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate charges of corruption by the former Chastanet government delivered on a key campaign promise by the SLP. In less than one month the SLP has started the ball rolling in a tangibly and visible manner. Time will tell if the special prosecutor will be able to discover evidence of the corruption hinted on the campaign platform.
The decision taken by the SLP government in St. Lucia contrast starkly to what occurred in Barbados post 2018 general elections. The Mia Mottley led government after three years in office has made no tangible or visible attempt to deliver on a similar promise made on 2018 general election campaign to prosecute corruption. Thousands of Barbadians were ‘mamaguyed’ into a belief that there was a mountain of evidence safely stored in the RED BAG by then Opposition Leader Mia Mottley. After three years it is safe to say Barbadians were given a ‘big rock’, the RED BAG was a prop in a well designed melodrama called – Geh Muh de Vote and Watch Muh.
Some will suggest former minister Donville Inniss suffered the ignominy of being the first minister in a Barbados Cabinet to be incarcerated, therefore the incumbent government must receive some credit? The irony is that Inniss was incarcerated in the USA because of a transaction that originated in Barbados. It was reported in the case notes local authorities cooperated with US law agencies, however, to date no charge has been made against Inniss by local authorities. The electorate geh dem de vote and watching dem like a hawk with 2023 quickly approaching.
All manner of reasons have been shared with the public by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Attorney General Dale Marshall why they have been unable to deliver on expansive promises about corruption made in 2018. One does not have to do scientific polling to deduce that the 30-0 mandate the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) received was because a large segment of the electorate bought into the promise that corrupt behaviour would have been exposed and actors held accountable by this government. Three years later it is fair to surmise we are having more of the same.
The government will proffer that it has had to grapple with an economy in unprecedented decline, followed by the pandemic made worse by ash fall from La Soufriere- the result of which the economy loss 2 million dollars in economic activity. A reasonable question must be asked and answered – why has St. Lucia been able to initiate a formal process to investigate corruption suspected of the Chastanet government in less than one month?