Outspoken Government minister Donville Inniss is not hiding his leadership ambitions.
In fact, he has told reporters that he would readily embrace the opportunity to lead ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), if the position currently held by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart were to become available.
The Member of Parliament for St James South, who has been openly critical of Stuart’s leadership style from the standpoint of communication, was responding to questions from the media following the launch of the Global Value Chain Analysis workshop at Accra Beach Hotel yesterday.
Inniss, who is the current minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, said while the top position in the ruling DLP party was currently filled, he would be “a fool not to” throw his hat in the ring, should it become vacant.
However he was silent on whether his leadership designs hinge on Stuart relinquishing the post of his own volition or if he plans to mount a challenge through the internal electoral process, should the DLP fail to regain power at the next general elections, which is constitutionally due in a matter of months.
“When I say what I have to say and people say that, ‘oh Donville Inniss wants to be Prime Minister of Barbados’ but there ain’t no vacancy. However if a vacancy arises I will be a fool not put my hat in the ring,” said Inniss, who has also differed publicly with his leader on the matter of downgrades.
“Every politician has a right to try to preserve himself, don’t let anybody fool you about that; even those who say nothing. I am a Barbadian first and foremost and I am the parliamentary representative for St James South and it is my intention to continue to do that. I have also been a member of the DLP for almost 33 years and therefore, whatever one may say about self-preservation, the simple truth of the matter is that I live in a very real world and I observe what is going on around me.
“ . . . If people think that my comments are selfish then tough luck for them, but I have to do and say what is in the best interest of Barbados first,” he said, following two recent downgrades by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s that were effectively dismissed by the Prime Minister.
However, despite these public contradictions, Inniss contended that there was no jostling for leadership, as he and his colleagues were satisfied with the stewardship of Stuart.
“There is no vacancy for chairmanship of the Cabinet and I can tell you that we as Cabinet ministers do have good relationship with one another as we do our task. Whatever people may do behind the scenes, I don’t know, but I am a very up front and open person, so I don’t know about any jockeying for power,” he said.
Inniss further suggested that given the turbulent economic times facing the country, now was not the time to be focused on leadership of the party.
“Let us stay focused on how we can make this economy much stronger than it is now, I am not about the political games at all,” he said.