Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
by Hyacinth Greenidge
Barbados is not the fiefdom of Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
And while Barbadians remain mute, sedated, comatose, bewitched, apathetic, perhaps petrified, they are ceding this island to someone who from my vantage point, even if not hers, seems more concerned about creating a legacy – contrived as it might be – than anything else. Of course, this is my opinion and I might be wrong. But actions speak louder than words and I wish to be given the opportunity to highlight a few of the things that Barbadians ought to take notice of, as they contemplate the next general election.
I am a supporter of Barbados first, and anything else afterwards. I have voted for Tom Adams’ Bees, Errol Barrow’s Dems, Owen Arthur’s Bees and David Thompson’s Dems. I did not vote for Freundel Stuart’s Dems nor Mia Mottley’s Bees – two of my wisest political decisions.
Mr Stuart’s reluctant and often lazy leadership justified my decision. Miss Mottley’s political attitude and aptitude has also convinced me that my decision not to vote in the 2018 general election was the right decision. I had no leadership to vote for but I fear that the lesser of my two worries lost.
I will start with my first contentious issue and I will draw from the Emancipation Day speech of Senator Reverend John Rogers and his remark that “30 out of 30 is not 100 per cent.” Though the erudite cleric made no specific reference to any politician, I want to use the statement with respect to the present political leadership of Barbados.
I think that the overall victory bestowed on Miss Mottley has created a situation in Barbados akin to a new maxim of “Vox Mia, Vox Dei” – the voice of Mia is the voice of God, or some might even suggest, “Vox Populi, Vox Murium” – the voice of the people is the voice of mice. Of course, this is not our leader’s actual or stated stance, but it is the perception of myself and thousands like-minded individuals.
I am in agreement with Barbados becoming a republic, even though it will make no fundamental difference to the lives of Barbadians, a reduction of poverty, a decrease in fuel costs or a drop in the overall cost of living.
We make a fuss about a native Barbadian being the Head of State so we will have a president rather than a Governor General and my grandson will obviously sleep a lot more snugly at night as a result of the change in ceremonial name.
I believe something as fundamental as Barbados becoming a republic should be decided by the people not by Miss Mottley alone, nor by Henry Forde’s aged report.
A referendum is in order. But that is not my only fret.
There will only be one Independence Day and that is November 30. All Barbadians know the importance of the day. Why would any leader even consider having a Republic Day on November 30? Are we to deprive generations of future Barbadians unencumbered knowledge of the singular importance of that November date? Is Miss Mottley attempting to create a legacy by erasing that of the Father of Independence?
One would think that one would have to do great things to create a legacy, not create a legacy by erasing or watering down another’s legacy? In a year of 365 days, it seemingly borders on megalomania to home in on November 30.
What about that committee that was put together to discuss the entire question and processes of our republic status? What have they to say on this? Did that committee agree to this rushed process? Barbadians, like me, would like to hear them on this? I have given up on the weaklings in the Parliament of Barbados who seem to view Miss Mottley as some wouldbe messiah. I wait to see who from that sorry bunch has the fortitude to tell Miss Mottley when to pull back. Just over 10 years ago a group of BLP parliamentarians approached the Governor General to have Miss Mottley removed as Leader of the Opposition.
Some of them are still around and in the interest of democracy these same individuals and others should be paying closer attention to the actions of their leader and considering whether the majority might have to visit the Governor General at some future date again.
Twenty-nine minus one is not zero. But the advent of the republic and the identity of the president might make such a step impossible or improbable as the months unfold.
What makes this situation severely untenable is that Miss Mottley has no history of political success that one can point to that would encourage some Barbadians – in and outside the House of Assembly to follow her blindly.
As Minister of Education, Edutech was a disaster despite the millions of dollars pumped into it. I smile when some try to credit her strong leadership with the resolution of the insurrection at Her Majesty’s Prisons, Glendairy, some years ago. But people tend to forget that trouble was brewing at that facility for years, reports were made about the situation there and nothing tangible was done.
Hence the powder keg exploding was as a result of administrative negligence. When a diabetic loses a leg on the surgeon’s table through a negligent and careless lifestyle, do we praise him for enduring the amputation manfully or do we chastise him for leading the type of unhealthy lifestyle that got him to that point? It saddens me that in 2021 after so much money has been spent on education that Barbadians are still slaves to politicians. If a politician is not functioning, he or she is not functioning, irrespective of their politics.
If a politician is a threat to democracy, then action should be taken in the interest of maintaining democracy, not continued obedience to political colours and the accompanying patronage. I follow social media and listen to the call-in programmes and I am appalled at the twisted arguments some try to bring to give legitimacy to actions that do not necessarily reflect the will of the people but appear to be sponsored by specific individuals.
I have taken to switching channels whenever I listen to one openly-gay moderator seeking to justify almost every step this Government makes, even if the argument is obviously vacuous and seemingly not predicated on commonsense. And this is repeated across social media as though there is a list of paid influencers whose job is simply to control or attempt to guide public opinion in the
Government’s direction. I can now appreciate Government’s preoccupation with communications and the state’s high wage bill with respect to having this branch of government heavily populated.
My final and brief concern is with vaccination against COVID-19. I have taken the vaccine of my own volition.
I have embarked on a programme of boosting my immune system [if it is still in control of my body], keeping fit and adhering to the protocols. But while I agree with the protocols being a mandated part of our social interactions, I am in total disagreement with any policy that will make vaccination mandatory across the board, especially as it relates to employment.
The science has thrown up a number of scenarios where there are no guarantees about the vaccine. People are still contracting, spreading and reportedly dying from COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. How in the name of sanity, then, can one deprive human beings of the right to choose under these uncertain circumstances? The private sector – with their bottom line as their focus – seems to be guiding Government’s response to this question but I believe the voice of the people must be heard.
The idea of forced vaccination seems to go against every industrial and human rights consideration and convention in existence – not to mention legal.
Yet, here we are in 2021 unable to find consensus on whether an individual has the right to put or not put some substance into his or her system that could change one’s life forever.
If our political leaders allow that, they do not deserve to be our political leaders and should be booted from Government at the earliest opportunity. But, if I had to take the vaccine again, I would. It is called my choice. And when last I checked this idea of protecting the workplace sounds as though the workers are being separated from the workplace. The workers are the workplace.
Without them, the ‘workplace’ is merely bricks, steel or wood. Yet the voices of the workers seemingly mean nothing in the prevailing environment.
This article was submitted as a Letter to the Editor.