Prime Minister Mia Mottley has pledged to ensure that democracy is preserved as she prepares to serve her second consecutive term in the country’s highest elected office, buoyed by a historic 30-0 mandate from the voters.
Mottley on Wednesday outlined a laundry list of policies and programmes to strengthen the nobility of her administration as 30 Members of Parliament, 13 Government senators and 21 ministers from among them were sworn in at State House.
Featuring high in the proposed reforms was the promise made also after the 2018 General Election to offer two opposition senate seats to the party that accumulated the second-highest number of votes, even if that party was unable to secure a seat in the Lower House.
“Just as I did on the last occasion, I now formally repeat the offer of the Government of Barbados, having received the [legal] opinion this morning, to offer to the party receiving the second-highest votes in the election, in the absence of a leader of the opposition, an opportunity to be able to appoint two opposition senators,” declared Mottley.
“This is who we are as Barbadians and victory must never allow us to believe that it is a licence to obliterate those for whom others voted. This is who we were raised to be as Barbadians, and I trust and pray that on this occasion, the officers and members of the Democratic Labour Party will recognize that this is not a political trick. This is a genuine desire to keep our multi-party democracy alive, in spite of the mandate given to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
“I sat quietly for the last three and a half years while all accused us of being a one-party state. Our constitution admits of a party receiving all of the seats of the poll, but our constitution is rooted in a multi-party system of democracy. There has been no change to that and it is for that reason that on the last occasion on which we met, on the 27th of May, 2018, I indicated to the people of this country that we will treat the mandate with care and we will treat to it as if all depended on us. On that occasion, I even offered as necessary to be the government’s main opposition when required and, on occasion, have done so,” the PM added.
However, the DLP subsequently declined the offer, saying there was no grounding for it in law.
Meantime, Prime Minister Mottley explained that the necessary constitutional amendments would be made to facilitate the appointment of Khaleel Kothdiwala, 18, as the country’s youngest-ever senator.
She added that the much broader constitutional reforms for the new republic would be made chapter by chapter each month, beginning with citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms.
In addition, PM Mottley promised to close the lid on the implementation of critical integrity legislation, as she pleaded with those in the Upper House to cooperate. But even without it, she said members of the cabinet would be required to declare their assets, more powers would be given to the Whistleblowers Act, and the local anti-corruption agency would be fully staffed.
“There is zero tolerance for both corruption and arrogance in this administration, and I will not have to say any more on this matter,” declared Mottley.
During the ceremony, Prime Minister Mottley announced Dr William Duguid as the 19th member of the cabinet as a Senior Minister in the Prime Minister’s office responsible for Coordinating all Infrastructural Projects.
Despite having a smaller cabinet compared to the two appointed between 2018 and 2022, PM Mottley declared that those called to serve, particularly her four senior ministers, would be undertaking one of the largest tasks of post-independence Barbados.
At the constituency level, the PM declared that the standard of representation would be expected to improve significantly. MPs will be required to spend at least half a day in their respective constituencies barring sickness or absence from the country and they must report to their constituents at least twice a year, said Mottley. (KS)