On Thursday November 05, 2020, eligible Vincentians will be lining up at the scores of polling stations across the length and breadth of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to cast their ballot for the political candidate of their choice, and to inadvertently choose, the most capable leader to either continue the programme of continued socio-economic development, or allow a seismic shakeup of established policies.
Thursday November 05, 2020, is a very important date in the decision-making process of thousands of Vincentians. This day, all of the political rhetoric will be put aside, as voters are expected to make a sober and sound decision for the continued betterment of their country; collectively.
Both major political parties have advertised their candidates, launched their manifestos – in the case of the ULP two Manifestos; and held numerous virtual events to inform the public of their plans and policies for the next five-year term.
However, a number of crucial leadership factors are troubling many Vincentians, as they ponder if to go with the touted ‘time for a change’ of the NDP, or ‘remain with the tried and tested leadership’ of the ULP which has proven to hold its mettle in times of crisis.
In keeping with the expected, all kinds of allegations have been leveled against the ruling Unity Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The latest is reheated like stale food: the Yugge Farrel issue. Now the culprits have set their arrows on current Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and Ms Farrel, a model of some standing. Vincentians will do well to remember this issue first surfaced in 2017-18 with attempts now to make it the hot-button issue of the day.
Operatives of the opposition New Democratic Party, fuelled by advice from American and Chinese interests, used Ms Farrel and whatever relationship she may have had with the Finance Minister, in a bid to sway public opinion and support, away from the ULP.
The NDP’s operatives are opportunistically attempting to use Ms Farrel as a scapegoat, to provide another platform of nastiness.
Images of Ms Farrel were reproduced on Tee-shirts and posters without her permission. Subsequently Ms Farrel made a number of social media postings, denouncing the illegal use of her image. Her mother was videotaped, taking down posters of her daughter in Kingstown.
However, despite its strident call of ‘time for change’, the opposition is yet to demonstrate that its leadership has the gonads to take decisive action, along the route of the much-used cliché – charity begins at home, and who live in glass house should not throw stones.
On Wednesday morning, October 28, 2020, in a most damning interview on Star FM, Ambassador Ellsworth John spoke of certain incidents and behavourial patterns involving the NDP’s East Kingstown candidate.
For months, there have been whispers of allegations where that candidate is concerned, with many Vincentians on both sides of the political divide, waiting with bated breath for the NDP’s hierarchy to inform the public of whether an investigation was conducted to ascertain the truth or non-truth behind those allegations. Leadership is taking at times, the needed hard unpopular decisions to protect the integrity of one’s organization, one’s self, and in the case of a political organization, to give the people a clean, above board slate.
However, this has not been the case with the NDP. It is one thing for an ordinary supporter to have allegations levelled against him or her. But an entirely different kettle of fish for political candidates to be accused of misappropriation of funds and sexual misconduct while employed in the government service.
Even more troubling is the deafening silence, because that candidate is yet to issue a statement to allay the fears of voters, as to his suitability as a political candidate.
The only response from within the NDP is a threat of perceived legal action after the November 05, 2020 elections, which has only served to throw more gasoline unto the fire.
The NDP must address these allegations now that Ambassador Ellsworth John spoke on national radio on some of these issues.
Additionally, the whispers of sexual allegations have been making the rounds, but no statement has been issued, not even from the female candidates of the NDP.
There is the dignified silence by the daughter of a prominent politician suffering the alleged nasty experience she had.
There is also an accusation of an underage female at the time who was sexually molested, but her mother was allegedly paid the sum of EC$5,000.00, to prevent the case being prosecuted.
Too many supporters of the NDP are whispering in the dark over concerns as to what their party is doing in regard to these allegations.
Does Dr Friday and the remaining leadership of the NDP prefer the pathway of victory at all costs, over maintaining the integrity of their party, and themselves?
The failure to date by Dr. Godwin Friday and the leadership of the New Democratic Party to issue a public statement is a clear indication that the principles of governance and accountability being touted by them are nothing more than flashing mirrors in a bid to win the seat of governance.
If the voting public are in need of any nudge in doing the right thing and ensuring that the NDP remain in the political wilderness till they have cleaned up their act, the manner by which the multiplicity of allegations against one of their candidates have been handled says it all.
It is clear that the philosophy and modus operandi of the NDP is a clear and present danger to the continued positive development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
As a result, the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines should continue with the ULP’s tried and tested leadership of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his team of candidates, than the questionable leadership approach of the opposition NDP in dealing with allegations of misconduct.
By Robertson S. Henry