R. Rose
April 8, 2016
Stop misleading

Yet another act in SVG’s tortuous post-election saga was acted out this week when the High Court gave its verdict on an application by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to have two election petitions, filed by the Opposition, struck out by the Court.

The backdrop had been wellprepared, mind you. Opposition supporters had been pumped up by radio, social media, and the party leadership, official and unofficial, encouraged to “come out in your numbers,” as Lord Summers had sung in that memorable calypso.{{more}} It was as though pressure was being not-so-subtly applied on the Court to rule in a particular direction.

Then there came the ruling, and the reaction to it. Jubilation! in a supposed “victory,” in line with predictions for “elections soon”, or “in two months”. How could one side or another interpret the ruling as some sort of triumph is beyond my simple understanding. Yet, there it was, the “Hero and the crowd”, the path to the proclaimed restoration of democracy in SVG.

It pains me to see people being manipulated in this manner. There are many supporters of the Opposition who may have reason to be opposed to the Government, not on the larger policy grounds, but by virtue of many little acts by persons close to the Government, the square pegs in round holes, whom the Government continues to tolerate, for whatever reason. It is typical of our politics in the Caribbean, but no excuse for perpetuating it.

Yet, this is providing the basis for persons with their own selfish aims, to try and use virtually every trick in the book to short-change and mislead the faithful. There are persons who, to this day, are convinced that the court ruling paves the way for fresh elections “soon”, and there are persons leading them, who are not prepared to let them know the truth. That, to my mind, is sad.

If it is the conviction of the Opposition that there was wrongdoing which influenced the outcome of the elections, then, by all means, prepare to challenge it. That is not only your right to do so, but if convinced of fraud, your democratic duty to do so. Those not so convinced, but like me, in no position to jump to conclusions in absence of the facts, should not condemn them for going to court, but must await and be prepared to respect the ruling of the court.

But it is improper to try and distort facts, to use half-truths and distortions to mislead persons to support your position, one way or the other. By so doing, one is doing a grave disservice to persons with blind faith in you, who depend on you for guidance and leadership. It cannot be concealed or buttressed by rabid attacks on any dissenters, or persons of differing opinion. Nor will your cause be served by trying to take things out of context in order to make your case.

This columnist has been from time to time been singled out for attacks, for whatever reason, I don’t know. It has no effect on me for I have been through worse than that. But to go and say that when commenting on election night, I admitted that “something is wrong”, in order to make out a case about alleged election fraud, is downright dishonest. On election night, some figures were read out which did not tally and it seems that I was at fault in learning to count. The subsequent correction indicated that my parents’ efforts to make me learn arithmetic were not in vain.

But it is not about me or an isolated incident. The blatant lie that SEARCHLIGHT editor Clare Keizer was to be an observer in our local elections was also peddled, as were many other falsehoods. One does not have to resort to these if truth and justice is on one’s side. There are too many people on this or that side of the political spectrum who listen only to one side, so it is all too easy to lead them astray. We were gifted with two ears, two eyes, even two nostrils. We must use them wisely.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.