Our Readers' Opinions
July 16, 2010
Eustace must tell us of his vision for SVG

Fri, Jul 16, 2010

Editor: The New Democratic Party will hold its annual Convention this coming Sunday (July 18) at Democrat House in capital city Kingstown, SVG.

This, perhaps, will be the most important gathering of the once dominant party, founded by Sir James F Mitchell in 1974 – the party which ruled SVG from 1984 to March 2001.{{more}}

For starters, the NDP has been ailing from poor leadership since Sir James was forced out of office in 2000. It’s last Prime Minister (for 7 months), and leader since late 2000, has failed to inspire Vincentians, other than the diehards and fanatics within the party.

As Leader of the official Opposition, Mr. Eustace has been a complete hopeless failure. The role of the official Opposition is to challenge government policies, offer solutions, hold the government accountable for its actions and give voters an alternative in the next election. Under Arnhim Eustace, the New Democratic Party has failed to deliver on this mandate.

No so long ago, the NDP held every single electoral seat in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Without any elected opposition members in Parliament, Mitchell literally ran a “one party State”. Since his selection as leader, Mr. Eustace has lost 12 of the 13 seats the NDP once held on mainland St. Vincent.

Poor orator and debater

There have been several challenges to Eustace’s leadership. He appears to have survived on each occasion, because of the party founder’s intervention. Many believe, had it not been for the return of Sir James and the un-Vincentian behaviour of consultants SCL, Eustace would not have been able to boast of a referendum win. Eustace cannot win anything on the strength of his own leadership.

As a young “Villager”, I vividly remember Arnhim Eustace as a very poor orator and debater – no match for the likes of Harold “Bucky” Dougan, Joel Toney, Winfield Williams (deceased) and F Irwin Jack. To learn years later that Eustace was interested in representative politics at the leadership level was somewhat shocking to me. Leaders are supposed to possess some charisma. They should be able to communicate effectively. And they should be able to inspire. Eustace never exuded any of these leadership qualities.

A national Fiscal Advisor’s role is to advise the government on fiscal matters for the benefit and development of the country. Arnhim Eustace held that position for several years. But it seemed he was only to be able to offer advice to the Mitchell NDP government on failed and mismanaged projects, including Ottley Hall, the Union Island Marina, the Diamond Dairy, the Georgetown Sugar Factory, CLICO Homes and the “fire sale” of Crown lands to government members and friends, including himself. The Eustace-Mitchell regime was viewed by the majority of Vincentians as serving three consecutive terms highlighted by corruption, mismanagement and wanton abuse of power.

Since becoming leader of the NDP, Mr. Eustace has presided over a political party in decline. He has failed to impress with his performance in Parliament and elsewhere. When put under pressure by the outstanding performance of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Eustace clears the few opposition chairs and takes to the street to lead demonstrations or role play Prime Minister in “Mock Parliaments”` at Democrat House.

Luckily for Mr. Eustace, SVG is in an election year. The NDP would commit political suicide to even think of a leadership challenge at its July 18 convention. So Eustace is safe for now and can focus his efforts on fending off the strong challenge from political newcomer and Rhodes scholar, 24-year-old Luke Browne, in his East Kingstown constituency.

Rhetoric should match reality

Sunday’s NDP Convention is the most significant event in Arnhim Eustace’s entire political life. His performance on Sunday will be the most important job application he will ever submit to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In Sunday’s Convention address (as party president), Mr. Eustace must not only clearly articulate his vision for the progress and development of SVG, he must also with honesty and great clarity tell Vincentians how he intends to govern SVG for the next 10 years or so. The rhetoric should match the reality.

During the Convention, Mr. Eustace, therefore, needs to address the following major issues and state how his policies differ from those of Prime Minister Gonsalves and the ULP: education; health care; housing; private sector participation; the completion and operation of the Argyle International Airport; his position on the CCJ; SVG’s Foreign Policy, with specific mention of our country’s relationship with Cuba, Venezuela, Taiwan, among other friendly countries, which now assists in the development of our country; and Constitutional Reform. Eustace must also say where he and his party now stand on the CCJ.

Mr. Eustace needs to tell Vincentians on Sunday if and why he is against the Vision Now eye programme (with Cuba); the low and middle income housing programme; the Education Revolution; Cuba’s involvement in the construction of the Georgetown Diagnostic Centre, and the PetroCaribe Agreement and the ALBA. He also needs to tell Vincentians why he is applying to them for a job to sell Vincentian citizenships and passports.

Enemy of progress

Will Mr. Eustace be influenced by Kamla “Not your ATM” Persad-Bissessar to change his mind on the recently signed OECS agreement, in the same way he was influenced by foreigners to change his mind on Constitution Reform?

Most important, Mr. Eustace should outline on Sunday if he is prepared to repeat the mistakes of the NDP government from 1984 to early 2001 which allegedly oversaw massive corruption, mismanagement and victimisation.

It may be easy to switch Convention Speaker from Jack “Ask your mother” Warner to Party founder and owner. The difficult part is convincing Vincentians that after 9 years of economic progress under Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP they should elect a failed leader who heads a party of NO and an enemy of progress. The foolish talk about “socialism” would not work.

T. Wade Kojo Williams, Sr.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada