Barbados’ former top diplomat to London is warning the current administration against making the monumental move toward republicanism without a clear mandate from the people of Barbados.
Reverend Guy Hewitt, who is hoping to take over the leadership of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), declared that as Barbadians come to grips with the current social, economic and psychological situation, they ought not to be bombarded with a rushed public awareness campaign on the matter.
“It’s not the time. It’s not the time to become a republic, this is an awful time,” Hewitt declared on the steps of the Yacht Club’s main building on Bay Street.
“That is a major decision and a major step for Barbados and we shouldn’t be rushed into it because the regime set an arbitrary timeframe in the last Throne Speech.
“This is the wrong time. We are struggling socially, economically, psychologically, this is the wrong time to make those kinds of profound changes,” he repeated.
Hewitt dismissed even the thought of such a move until all of the country’s key stakeholders are in a position to engage in such a discussion.
While acknowledging the words of DLP stalwart The Right Excellent Errol Barrow about loitering on colonial premises, he noted that not even the Father of Independence had embarked on that journey without a clear mandate from the people of Barbados.
“Barbados became independent when the country was deemed to have been ready. We had an election the month of our independence and the then premier told the people that if he gets a mandate, he will take us into independence. We have not given this Government such a mandate,” Hewitt contended.
Referencing the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee of 1994, he added: “Sir Henry Forde has said that Barbados needs a referendum. He was the leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), pick sense from that.
“It is inappropriate to have it now, so I have not given it thought. My only thoughts have been ‘this is the wrong time’ and the Government is not listening to the people because nobody is supporting them on this republican rush.”
Hewitt’s comments come days after university law lecturer Dr Ronnie Yearwood, during a lecture at the same Yacht Club declared that Barbados’ transition to a republic should not be a pressing issue for the current administration. Instead, Yearwood argued that people should be more focused on meaningful constitutional changes.
Since then, the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) described the Government’s plan as an “unnecessary rush job” on a policy that cannot be properly ventilated between now and November.
“Good governance would dictate that if we are going to promote consultation, then practice it. Don’t say it as a matter of convenience. Practice it and don’t tell me ‘oh, I give you two months to do it’, because there is no way that we can properly treat to something like that in two months,” said CTUSAB General Secretary Dennis de Peiza.