“Stifling Democracy”

Located approximately one hour south of Puerto Rico in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis has a rich history, particularly given its role as the hub of activity in the fight to defend against the encroachment of French forces, who fought arduously against the British for military and economic prowess. That St. Kitts is dubbed the Gibraltar of the West Indies is no accident. Hers was a vantage point that allowed her to be a military force to be reckoned with. Eventually, the British won the fight over the French to gain exclusive control of St. Kitts.

Seventy-nine years after the Buckleys Uprising, which saw three descendants of African slaves fall victims to the bullets of an overzealous plantocracy that minimized the value of its workers, the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis should be the one nation in the world that exemplifies democracy and good governance in the 21st century. Having had a leader for well over eighteen years who is acclaimed as brilliant and politically savvy, when etched in the annals of history, his legacy will be marred by his brazen attack on democracy and fairness, which he steadfastly campaigned for in his rise to power as far back as 1993.

A December 2012 Motion of No Confidence filed by a collective opposition group of elected parliamentarians has been blatantly evaded by the current administration while the lauded “illegitimate” Prime Minister pretends that such overt disregard for the rule of law is an exercise in normalcy. Most fair-minded citizens believe such is an affront to democracy.

According to the federation’s constitution, only elected parliamentarians can exercise a parliamentary vote on a Motion of No Confidence. Convinced that he will gain more support from the electorate while vehemently snubbing the very democracy he touts, the party he leads and the speaker of the National Assembly are in support of his now fourteen month delay and disregard for the MONC and subsequent delay of general elections.

To lay “absolute” blame at the feet of the leader of our nation is to absolve many of his surrogates who cheer him on ever so faithfully in his openly undemocratic acts. “Stifling Democracy” has now become one of the catch phrases to describe the actions of our nation’s leader and his supporting cast.

When one reflects on the history of politics in the federation and the fact that Denzil Douglas is in an unenviable position as a Prime Minister with absolutely “no confidence” in tabling a motion he will likely lose, it begs the question, “What would an alternative government do to ensure that NEVER again will democracy be hijacked by one man and a choir of yes followers?”

Clearly, ANY alternative to this current leadership MUST work to remove the cloud of divisiveness and undemocratic like practices that abound in the federation today. The current predicament of citizens in a blossoming independent nation such as St. Kitts and Nevis can easily be reversed if and when politicians and policy makers who proclaim their commitment to public service and their constituents make their role in leadership truly about the PEOPLE they serve and less about living their lives on “Easy Street”. Removing this scar in our history will begin with a re-education of our people, a change in attitudes and constitutional reform!

Some politicians and their supporters on ALL sides of the political divide will declare, “It’s all well and good for our opponents to talk about us until they get into office and see firsthand the pressures of running a government.” However, our politicians must clad themselves with two things when they make their way down Church Street:

1) A conscience;

2) A few trusted friends with a conscience.

Too often some of our leaders conveniently park their consciences in the very garages they park their luxury vehicles and for a five year parliamentary tenure, they lead us to the state much like the one in which our nation finds itself.

The parliamentarians, stalwarts and past supporters of Labour who chose to take a moral stand with regard to the direction in which the current Labour Party is heading also chose to let their consciences guide them. They felt compelled not just to oppose government but also to propose alternatives that can best serve the people of our nation, rather than accept the beleaguered status quo. The burden will now be on these same citizens and those who support a Unified effort to genuinely commit to a changed political dispensation, resulting in a better St. Kitts and Nevis

Nelson Mandela seemed to have had a conscience and an abundance of love in his heart during his lifetime! Mandela’s experiences dictated that he should have ascended to the highest echelons in South African history and eventually seek to be handsomely recompensed for his lifelong suffering at the hands of his oppressors. After attaining freedom and after being catapulted to the heights of leadership as President of South Africa, Mandela had the opportunity to live life on “Easy Street”. Instead, he fought to make seemingly impossible policy changes a reality for black people in South Africa. Nelson Mandela fought tooth and nail for the people.

Time and again, history teaches us that a unified chorus of people agitating for change is largely triggered by a burning desire to find alternatives to the life crises that inhibit successes in their lives. Such was the case in the federation in 1993 when the Labour Party ascended to power vowing to reverse the wrongs they identified the PAM administration of being guilty of.

So where does the federation go next?

Apparently, the work of the Unity partnership has not fallen on deaf ears. The agitating they have spearheaded over the course of the last year has set the feet of the incumbents alight and government now appears to be working tirelessly to source a myriad of projects that to their mind will translate into votes and ultimately, another term in the reins of government. There has been an all-out attempt to govern once again, albeit months too late!

The people finally get it: Government ministers are public servants elected by the people to meet the human, social and economic needs of its people at ALL times, not just when general elections loom.

Delaying a Motion of No Confidence and in effect general elections in hopes that candidates will be strengthened to win their seats is no guarantee of victory at the polls. In fact, it further demonstrates the depths to which a government will stoop in a last ditch attempt to hold on to power. After almost nineteen years of a Labour Party government, the people of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis have seemingly been “Douggied out”.

Federal elections in St. Kitts and Nevis are constitutionally due within less than a year. Despite the deliberate delay, the Denzil L. Douglas lead administration can no longer stifle democracy and MUST hear from the electorate through the battle of the ballots. It is the one medium through which the people’s voice will finally be heard.



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