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Government must take strong action

Government must take strong action
Eye of the Needle

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Last week this column began commenting on some issues pertaining to our two political parties, the governing ULP and the opposition NDP, and I promised to continue with some critical issues concerning the Opposition.

However, permit me, not just a distraction, but a matter very relevant to our governance, to make a simple appeal.

In this week’s midweek issue of the SEARCHLIGHT (Tues. June 21, Pg.10) there is a story entitled “Farmers not happy…”, reporting on a consultation organized by the Ministry of Agriculture with farmers and fisherfolk of North Leeward. According to the story, there seems to have been much dissatisfaction expressed with “the distribution of money under the farmers’ support programme” being administered by the government in the wake of last year’s eruption of the Soufriere volcano.

According to the SEARCHLIGHT story, there are persons in receipt of governmental assistance who do not fit the criteria for genuine fisherfolk or farmers but who are receiving benefits.One fisherman spoke of persons who have received ice boxes but whose boats are not even big enough to accommodate the ice boxes.

The fisherman was quite outspoken in saying that not only can’t their boats not hold the ice boxes given, but “…those ice boxes, they’re going to stay there or they going to sell them on the street or something…” His view of the abuse of a valuable government programme was backed up by some farmers in relation to the distribution of fertilizers.

One farming couple claiming to be amongst the biggest farmers in North Leeward openly said that they did not receive a single sack of manure, yet, according to another farmer, “persons who all of a sudden became farmers” were recipients of government largesse. She did not mince words: “Farmers’ money share and the people who have nails, who have curls, who drinking rum…getting $500 and the man who is using a hoe and working in the hot sun while others collecting farmers’ money….it hard”.

These serious allegations were apparently not refuted and, according to the reports Agriculture Minister, Saboto Caesar promised to rectify the situation. But this is an age-old problem. It is either that the persons responsible for the administration of the programme are not doing their work diligently or are underestimating the seriousness of the matter.

It is high time for an end to be put to these potentially damaging incidents and those in authority must deal with it firmly, NOW, FOR ONCE AND FOR ALL. Let the chips fall where they may!

OPPOSITION ON WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY

The story above indicates the need for a progressive alternative. It is one thing to take up the matter and pontificate on “government favouritism” and the like, another to present a credible alternative. In fact, as far as the country is concerned, the more enlightened the opposition, the more the government is forced to deal with such matters in a serious manner.

Unfortunately, for all its rabble-rousing antics, the NDP continues to disappoint in terms of its philosophy and outlook. I raised the matter of the Summit of the Americas and that party’s response to the boycott of the Summit by P.M. Gonsalves. Admittedly, one may differ as to whether Dr. Gonsalves should have gone, but was not his position in keeping with a publicly announced CARICOM statement of a boycott if the USA excluded Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua?

How does the NDP categorization of these three countries as “non-democratic” square with its own public support for the People’s Republic of China,considered by the USA to be in the so-called “non-democratic” camp?

Again, the NDP statement quotes its Deputy Leader Major St. Clair Leacock as saying that P.M. Gonsalves “wants SVG to be seen as the country which defies our traditional relations with North America and Europe”.

What are those traditional relationships, the relations which brought us colonialism, slavery, genocide and racism? The relations which brought us underdevelopment?

Just this week it was revealed that one of the most outstanding African nationalist leaders, Patrice Lumumba, was not only removed from office by these “traditional friends” but barbarously hacked to death and dissolved in acid with only a tooth remaining?

Must we be silent in the face of it, or take a firm stand in favour of reparations?

What about the Windrush generation in the UK and that country’s action in deporting persons long considered citizens of that country? Or, for that matter, the action of the British government to deport “illegal immigrants” whether from Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria to Rwanda on Africa’s east coast? Is opposing such policies an indication of hostility or a demonstration of human solidarity? If that is the origin of the global outlook of Dr. Friday and the NDP, then those Vincentians who for one reason or another may wish for an alternative to the ULP will have to look elsewhere for clearly, the NDP continues to be ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY!

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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