It would be stretching credulity somewhat if we were to believe that Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s suggestion of “sabotage” in the ongoing retrenchment process was a newly-minted addition to Barbados’ political lexicon.
The term has come up before in very direct manner and has also manifested itself in indirect terms. Interestingly, politicians in opposition often disavow the existence of sabotage when it is related to anyone in the public or private sector but are only too keen to embrace the term when in government. The ideal of sabotage has a way of providing excusatory cover for underachievement but is often derided by oppositions because it does not serve their pursuit of government.
It is interesting to juxtapose occurrences and utterances made by the same personalities on the occasions when they sit on different sides of the political divide. This variance in perspective does not only rest with politicians, but for the very observant they will realize that perspectives seem to change in other sectors of society.
Take for example the trade union movement in Barbados which is currently not enjoying its finest hours. Over the last five years of the Freundel Stuart administration, strikes, go-slows and protest marches appeared to be the union movement’s first option in dealing with government, not the last, as had previously been the practice. That word “sabotage” came up in some quarters of Mr Stuart’s administration in circumstances where the union movement protested vehemently against a specific salary hike offer but then proceeded to accept a smaller pay increase. Now as chaos takes root in the retrenchment process to the point where Miss Mottley is crying “sabotage”, the unions are not on go-slows, they are not on protest marches or any type of industrial action to suggest that they are still representing labour. Perhaps, some might suggest that the labour movement in Barbados has been “sabotaged.”
In trying to get to the bottom of the sewage problem on the south coast, technical persons discovered all manner of extraneous material in the piping system that should not be there. While some in and connected to the then government were whispering “sabotage”, the then opposition did not address the possibility that sabotage could be playing a part in the problem. But why would they? Sabotage would not have helped their cause when the government’s ineptness in dealing with the problem could be better exploited. Now, while spewing water has abated significantly, the horrible stench remains. Political activists and social commentators who were so eager to speak out and to accompany the media to areas where foul water was coming through the earth are seemingly not interested in trekking to Worthings, Christ Church and pointing out where raw sewage is being diverted into the sea. No social activist is calling for an impact study on the possible effects of this highly questionable dumping. Some might suggest that these commentators too have been willingly “sabotaged”.
When the Hyatt Hotel project that could have meant employment for hundreds of Barbadians and an influx of foreign exchange, some in the then government cried “sabotage”. Will the average Barbadian echo “sabotage” or “saboteur” if the project proceeds without any changes to the conditions that applied when it was first conceptualized?
We dare say that sabotage has been part of our political lexicon for quite a while. And it has manifested itself or been used as an excuse by politicians and private citizens through the years. Was the collapse of the Caribbean Sea Island Cotton Company (CARSICOT) a result of sabotage, the then Democratic Labour Party administration’s ineptness, Prime Minister Errol Barrow’s gaffe or simply the then Minister Of Agriculture Sir Warwick Franklin’s bad luck? Was the failure of the Greenland project, Gems of Barbados, Edutech and Hardwood Housing due to sabotage, then Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s miscalculations or that administration’s bad luck? Was CLICO’s demise a result of sabotage caused by the unprecedented run on the company, or poor judgment?
In the midst of public sector layoffs there are rumblings that certain political operatives are finding employment in Government departments. The Public Service (General) Order 2018 has been amended and now legitimizes the public employment of a non-national initially employed to service a political party. Is this an instance of Barbadians being sabotaged? Some months ago, in explaining the rationale behind Government’s current corpulent cabinet we were told that “many hands make for light work”. Yet, Barbadian public workers are being laid off by the thousands to an extent where summonses cannot be served because of a shortage of marshals, fees and fines cannot be paid because of the absence of cashiers, pension cheques are late due to processing issues. And so it goes. That stated philosophy of “many hands . . .” and the present reality do not compute.
Could this too be a case of Barbadians being sabotaged?