There is still a place in the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) for members of the Freundel Stuart cabinet according to recently re-elected President Verla Depeiza.
In fact, the party leader feels no threat in the face of consecutive challenges by outspoken former Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley for leadership of the party which suffered an embarrassing 0-30 defeat at the May 2018 polls.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY for the first time since she was confirmed as head of the party, Depeiza says she expects to receive challenges from fellow party members.
“They [former DLP ministers] were shying away, but by virtue of their history, they’re all members of general council. All former MPs are members of this party, so they’re entitled to come and participate,” said DePeiza in a brief response to questions about the party’s former leaders.
When asked whether she felt threatened by the return of Lashley and other familiar faces like former Prime Minister Stuart and former Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy at major party events, DePeiza said: “You can only threaten something that belongs to you. The presidency doesn’t belong to me. I will work in my position and my record will speak for itself. That is it.”
DePeiza was re-elected President at the party’s 64th Annual General Conference held last weekend and it was widely reported Lashley once more withdrew his bid on the eve of the elections.
Since June, when the party’s election process started, DePeiza said she expected to be challenged by Lashley.
With her new mandate, Depeiza told Barbados TODAY work still needed to be done to “shore up” the party internally.
“If we are strong at George Street, then we can face the country better. But we are tightening up our processes and of course candidate selection has to take place,” she said.
According to the president, the DLP was focused on completing its strategic development plan, which involved a number of groups and committees.
During the party conference, Former Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner retained the post of first vice president out of a field of nine candidates. Simon Alleyne was elected as second vice president, Andre Worrell as third vice president and Nicholas Alleyne as fourth vice president.
“I am very happy,” said Verla, when questioned about her new team.
“We have a mixture of youth and experience and that is important for any dynamic organisation so you can see the succession plan. We will switch roles during the year. We will have people acting as spokespersons, people in more administrative roles, but everybody will have the opportunity to work in different capacities in relation to the first vice president.
According to Depeiza, the group, supported by the party’s general council, would seek to hold Government accountable on numerous pressing issues ranging from the country’s social services to the economy.
“The country is in the doldrums. We have spent the last 15 months spinning top in mud. We have made no progress on any fronts. The Barbados Labour Party when in opposition had a six-month checklist and they have achieved none of those objectives except to improve the foreign reserves. But they have improved their foreign reserves by not paying their bills,” said DePeiza, who described the steps as “retrograde”.
“Everything else, including the social services, is in chaos, with the benchmarks and time limits constantly being moved. They keep shifting the goalposts and you keep hearing different dates for implementation. So I don’t have any confidence. I don’t know how much confidence the country can have in a situation like that where you are constantly pushing and shoving and 15 months in, they still don’t seem to know what to do to run the country.”