Former Democratic Labour party (DLP) first vice president Irene Sandiford-Garner on Friday charged that gender played a role in the dearth of internal support given to former leader Verla DePeiza during her tenure.
Speaking at the inauguration of the party’s newly elected president, Dr. Ronnie Yearwood and the induction of its newest members at the DLP headquarters, Sandiford-Garner applauded DePeiza, whom she noted was the only individual brave enough to “raise her hand and said, ‘Here I am’” during the party’s “worst days” in the aftermath the 2018 trouncing at the General Election.
“But Verla had two strikes against her, she was not a part of the so-called winning circle of the party … and like me she is a woman, which is still something that is difficult in the political environment, which is intensely patriarchal,” Sandiford -Garner said.
Sandiford-Garner — a former Parliamentary Secretary — highlighted the support of the core of loyal members given to DePeiza and her team. She noted that they were tasked with the responsibility of rebuilding the party’s reputation, physical structure, finances and morale of membership and DePeiza performed credibly while at the helm.
“… But we persevered. There were hits and there were misses but she led. There was never agreement on all that was said and done, there were moments of doubt yet we moved forward each time with the sure and resolute commitment to ensuring that this dream of the late great Errol Walton Barrow would never die,” Sandiford- Garner said.
“We met resistance inside, we met resistance outside but to her everlasting credit Verla DePeiza took every slight, every attack and every roadblock with steely resolve.
“At the same time, she was able to lead this party into a General Election campaign befitting the status and standard of this 67-year-old organisation at a production level that was the same or even higher than some may have had before. The history books will be kind to Verla DePeiza,” Sandiford- Garner added.
Sandiford- Garner also had much praise for former Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett, who since January has served as interim president after DePeiza’s resignation from that position. In addition, Sandiford-Garner endorsed Dr. Yearwood as the new leader, stating that his embrace and public recognition of the value of “the women in the engine room” of the DLP was worth her support.
“Where he has come from in the political arena is of no relevance,” she said, an apparent reference to his recent history as a member of the Barbados Labour Party.
“Where he is now and where he plans to take us is what is of the utmost importance.” (KC)