Amid strident calls from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) for Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to resign over his handling of the country’s affairs, the people of his St Michael South constituency have been having their say on the issue.
Earlier today Barbados TODAY visited the Prime Minister’s constituency, to hear first-hand from the people who will ultimately determine the Prime Minister’s political fate.
With less than a year to go before general elections, the majority of residents who Barbados TODAY randomly spoke to during a drive through the urban riding said they were fed up with Stuart’s leadership and they wanted him to go.
“Things were going good for the first five years the Dees [were in power], but now things ain’t really living up for mark right now,” said Bayland resident Anthony Gay, who retired four years ago after doing various jobs, including working as a hotel cook and construction worker.
“Somehow I feel it is ten years coming up, and how things is now, I feel it is time for a change,” he told Barbados TODAY, while predicting that the economic situation would get worse before it gets better.
“It look like a lot of money spending and no one knows where the money going. The economy ain’t living up,” he said.
Gay, who also played in a musical band, lamented that money had been wasted building houses which no one was living in. He also complained that the road leading to his home was in a terrible state and in urgent need of repair.
However, he was not prepared to lay all the blame for the road conditions squarely at Stuart’s feet. He noted that the road had been in a poor state for years, pointing out that although the former BLP representative Noel Lynch had 15 years in the constituency from 1999 to 2003, “he never really do anything to this road either.
“The Dees get in and they do all in Brathwaite’s Gap, but this is part of the Prime Minister’s constituency and nutten ain’t do,” the irate constituent said.
His view was shared by other residents, many of whom predicted a bleak economic future for the country.
They were also reluctant to take Stuart’s word that there would be no devaluation of the Barbados dollar, but seemed to willingly accept the word of the international ratings agencies that “the economy ain’t going up, it going down”.
With the situation as it now stands, Melvin Brathwaite was very blunt when asked what he thought Stuart needed to do.
“I feel he should have stepped down ever since, cause we like we ain’t going any further,” the Dalkeith resident told Barbados TODAY.
“We like we gine down instead of gine up. And the thing is, a lot of people like me really complaining and saying the same thing,” the self-employed builder said.
Speaking for his fellow constituents, Brathwaite said many in St Michael South were anxious to see the back of the Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
“Too many people complaining . . . and we feel it, and who feels it knows it. I mean, how much more we can feel now and go through. I going through a lot right now, and a lot of us around here going through a lot right now. It hard man, it hard around dis place right now,” he stressed.
Brathwaite said the economic downturn had badly affected his small construction business, which was hardly getting any work these days.
“If I get something, it is just [enough] for me and one [other] man. Normally sometimes I would hire eight, nine or ten people . . . . I ain’t got that now.”
Further outlining his litany of woes, the self-employed contractor told Barbados TODAY there were days when he did not earn as much as $200 from his business.
“Things gone rock bottom . . . we need you out,” he said in reference to Stuart.
A mechanic, who only gave his name as ‘Benson’, said while he had been voting for the Prime Minister since he started running in the constituency back in 2003, he was now convinced that Stuart must go.
“I vote for he from the time he went in, but have not seen him even once! I does see he, but on tv, so I wouldn’t say he should go, I would say he should have gone,” Benson said, before turning his attack on Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
Poking fun at Sinckler’s name, he said instead of “‘St Clear’ … he should be turned to ‘St Dark’.”
He also alleged that Stuart had stood him up for a promised appointment.
“I did done wid he from dat day,” he told Barbados TODAY, emphasizing: “He should be gone . . . done, done. He time up anyway. He time up!”
Based on his most recent political experience, he also sought to warn Barbadians that going forward they must ”never put a goat in a sheep pen . . . [since] you would get confused animals.
“Everybody confused. We need a change,” Benson said.
In addition to their concerns about Stuart’s absence from the constituency, residents also took strong issue with his leadership style, saying he was simply too laid back and was allowing “everybody to do wuh dey feel like.
“You sitting back, then you come and tell [people] don’t worry when there is so much to worry about,” the very vocal consitituent said.
Equally outspoken was Cherry-Ann James, a resident of Beckles Road, who declared upfront her political allegiance to the Opposition BLP, saying her family has always voted for the ‘Bees’.
“I would like them [BLP] to get back in [because] . . . I would like some help for myself,” said James, who was not confident she would receive the same support from the current administration.
However, not everyone was eager to see the back of Stuart or his ruling DLP, which came to power in 2008 and was immediately confronted with a global recession.
Preferring not to give his name, one constituent, who Barbados TODAY met up with in Paddock Road while he was taking a break from work early this afternoon, made it clear that he was not among those clamouring for change.
In fact, he was very satisfied with the Prime Minister’s level of representation.
“I don’t support the call for him to resign. He is doing a good job,” the DLP supporter said.
His colleague, Ken Holder, who was also taking a break from his mechanical task, would not commit himself to saying whether or not his parliamentary representative should step down.
In fact, Holder questioned whether either Stuart or BLP leader Mia Mottley, who is seen as the ‘Prime Minister in waiting’ could achieve the desired economic turnaround.
“If he stand dey, he stand, but whoever come behind he, I know it gine get worse. If he stand, he stand . . .,” Holder said.
As for solving the country’s economic problems, Holder suggested that a good place to start was in the island’s Parliament, with a cut in the number of parliamentary representatives from 30 to 11, to reflect the number of parishes on the island.
“They should have 11 people representing the 11 parishes, not five people [in a parish]. . . Christ Church West, Christ Church East, Christ Church South . . . . That’s a waste uh time
. . . cause you don’t see them people at all in the area until voting time,” Holder said.
Another constituent, who told Barbados TODAY he did not want to be identified for fear of victimization, said he was not at all comfortable with how the country was being run.
“Who is really the Prime Minister . . . Freundel Stuart? No. I don’t think he is really the Prime Minister. I think Chris running the country, cause he [Stuart] aint saying nutten,” the disgruntled resident said.
“How things are now, a lot of lies telling. I think it is time for a change . . . we need a change,” he said.
His comments were also backed up by another resident, who did not want to be identified, but openly declared: “This is the worse Government ever.”
The Barbados TODAY team also dropped by the Prime Minister’s constituency office during today’s two-hour visit to St Michael South but there was no sign of activity.