“No fundamental social change occurs merely because government acts. It’s because civil society, the conscience of a country, begins to rise up and demand – demand – demand change”. Joe Biden – Former Vice President of the United States.
To say these are fascinating times in Barbados would be a gross understatement. It’s downright intriguing, grievous and outrageous all at same time.
Be it the high drama that played out in the law courts emanating from Church Village, between the Government’s lead economic adviser and his boss; the flying charges and countercharges between political foes; or an absent Prime Minister even as the economy totters, would make for one of the enthralling episodes of the American political television series, Scandal, which has hooked Barbadians.
Only, in this case, there is no Olivia Pope to fix the unfolding crisis.
Barbados is a country saddled with problems and, quite frankly, it’s becoming more evident that John Public may have to lead the change so badly needed.
Virtually everyone in this country – the vendor, student, housewife, civil servant, entrepreneur, and executive – is bending under the strain, and the cries for answers are falling on deaf ears.
What is worse is that the Freundel Stuart administration, in its wisdom or lack thereof, has failed to reassure the people.
And for a government that campaigned on a platform of good governance, accountability and transparency, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration has sadly bungled.
What we have been forced to grapple with in the current circumstances is a ministerial team attempting to carry on as though it is business as usual, simply waiting until the storm blows over.
Yet, if we are to believe the warnings of experts at home and abroad, the hovering economic storm is going nowhere anytime soon and the impact could be catastrophic.
On Wednesday, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party vented its outrage at the country’s state of affairs, rallying Barbadians to join their march of disgust at the DLP administration.
“We call upon all civic minded Barbadians to join with us in sending a message to Freundel Stuart and his Cabinet that their style of governance is not cute.
“. . . Barbados cannot bear the weight of the indifference and the incompetence of Freundel Stuart and his Cabinet for another 12 months,” BLP leader Mia Mottley declared.
Twenty-four hours later, the previously silent DLP roared back, with General Secretary George Pilgrim accusing the Mottley-led side of ulterior motives.
“The first thing the Opposition will do should they return to office will not be to focus on economy or foreign reserves – they want the keys to the Treasury, not the economy,” he charged, suggesting there is something in the Treasury.
And so the political boxing match continues. Barbadians are really tired.
We hold no quarters for the Opposition BLP and stay clear of endorsing the planned march. The fact is, Barbadians are well capable of deciding if they have had enough of the DLP and whether a peaceful protest, well within their constitutional rights, sends a clear message that they demand and deserve better. Barbadians want change, they must help to bring it about—by speaking out!
Still, this is no comfort for ‘the government in waiting’. The BLP would do well to note that John Public is anticipating its comprehensive, realistic, far reaching plan that will set Barbados on the right track and move this country to the next stage of its development.
Surely, it must be clear by now to the DLP, the BLP and the political groupings now joining the fray, that Barbadians are fed up with the style of governance on offer.
This country needs governance – no matter by which party – that is open, accountable, responsible and collaborative. Barbadians don’t want to be hoodwinked. We want to be informed and be part of the solution.
This means a shakeup at all levels.
But for now, we start with the party in power. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart needs to get down to serious discussions with the Opposition, other social partners, academics and experts to craft a new, doable economic rescue plan and a governance framework.
It is only with real, meaningful action that this country will be able to avoid falling off the precipice of economic disaster.