Not true. Because democracy is not something that pops up once every four or five years. It’s an everyday thing. And it can’t exist if, in spite of the negligence, recklessness, incompetence, abuse of public trust, or corruption of a leader, a people have absolutely no choice but to wait for four or five years in order to replace him or her.
Democracy is about freeing up people’s hand and minds, not tying them up.
In the United States, a President can be removed for treason, bribery, perjury, corruption, and so on. In 1974, President Richard Nixon was impeached for obstruction of justice, contempt of Congress, and abuse of power. He resigned to avoid being removed from office. The last President to face impeachment was Bill Clinton for perjury, but unlike Nixon, he survived.
But impeachment is not a US creation.
In Britain in 1386, the King’s Chancellor(that period’s version of the prime minister), a man named Michael de la Pole, was impeached for breaking a promise to Parliament. Sixty four years later, in 1450, his descendant, William de la Pole, was impeached for using his influence to obstruct justice, cronyism, and wasting public money.
Then in 1701, Edward Russell, Chief of the British Navy, was impeached for abusing his position in the Privy Council to make profits for himself, and for setting up the notorious pirate, William Kidd( a.k.a. Billy the Kid) with commissions.
The most recent case in the British Parliament came in 2006 when members sought to impeach then Prime Minister Tony Blair for leading the country into the invasion of Iraq under false justification. The effort failed.
Impeachment is a very serious, and a very rare, thing. Punishment is removal from office and disqualification from holding office in the future.
Even if it was( I don’t know that it is) an option that’s available to the Parliament of St.Kitts & Nevis, the chance of successfully impeaching an offending prime minister in our present political and social situation is as good as you or me having $50 million in a Swiss bank account. So let’s move on.
Why are we on this topic? Because St. Kitts & Nevis needs a new prime minister.
We need a leader whose mind is driven by the fundamentals of democracy and good governance, and by the doctrine that a nation’s potential can only be realized if its populace is truly enlightened and empowered; and whose heart is focused on the common good.
Denzil Douglas is not such a leader.
Further, we need a leader who can be our beacon as we work our way out of the social and economic degeneracy that has befallen us.
And Denzil Douglas is not such a leader.
So let’s look at three options.
Firstly, a vote of no confidence in Parliament. This can send home the Prime Minister, and force fresh elections. But in order to succeed, it must have the required amount of votes, that is, six out of the eleven Representatives, which wouldn’t be impossible, but it would be a tall order…..today.
Secondly, the Prime Minister can be sent packing if the Labour Parliamentarians decide to line up behind another leader, or if the
Labour Party changes its leader at its next Conference, or at a meeting specially held for that purpose.
A change in the leadership of the Labour Party is not as remote as some people might think.
Thirdly, the people can send a clear message by applying pressure with steady, relentless action, such as businesses closing down as a sign of protest, work stoppages, picketing, marches, rallies, vigils, posters, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and other paraphernalia, and by using the media.
Heaven knows, the people have good reason to apply that pressure, given the growing disappointment, dissatisfaction and disgust over the last ten months, especially so more recently, and the feeling that they were manipulated, fooled and betrayed by Dr .Douglas.
Prior to the election campaign earlier this year, there was no discussion between the Prime Minister and the nation about VAT, or about increasing Traders’ Tax( by 33,3%) Hotel Accommodation Tax and Restaurant Tax, now in the form of VAT(by 42%), Electricity Rates(by 30-85%)and Water Rates (by 50%?).
And no explanation by the Government, advising the people of the terrible plight of the economy. None whatsoever!
Indeed, the signals that were being sent were that everything was fine and dandy. Nearly 1,000 people were engaged in the YES program, and they received their double salary last December along with all public sector employees, although, as was later reported by the International Monetary Fund and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the economy was on the rocks.
It was only after the elections that the voters started hearing about VAT being introduced this year, and as the year went by, about the other taxes and charges to be dropped on their backs, and about the many hundreds of persons to be sent home from their jobs.
No warning, no notice, no discussion with the voters.
And much as I appreciate the need for measures to address the dangerous fiscal situation in which Dr. Douglas has plunged this nation( if he was not the leader he would have long been fired for that, and in other jurisdictions he might have been impeached), I do not believe that he was given a mandate in the elections of January 25th,2010, to do what he has done. A political leader cannot switch on a people just like that right after an election. He cannot tell them: ”Well, you all didn’t ask, so take what you all get now. And if you didn’t know, it wasn’t my duty to let you know”.
These taxes, hikes in utility rates, and massive layoffs were not in the deal. Dr. Douglas broke the deal! He ambushed the people with them, and he has no moral mandate to lead this country, nor do any others who choose to follow him.
And that’s why the public pressure option is the most practical one. It’s time for the final chapter of Dr. Douglas’ political story to be written, and by no better authors than the people of this nation whom he has played for fools and used as tools.
It’s that pressure which will drive some sense into the heads Dr. Douglas’ colleagues, prick their consciences, and force them to consider their own political survival and their respective legacies.
The public pressure will force them to reflect on the massive cash losses, and the attendant massive increase in the burden to be carried by their constituents and the entire population as a result of:
- the squandermania of La Vallee and Whitegate, and the road works;
- the poor management of our power supply and huge losses incurred;
- the deferral of Hotel Accommodation Tax to the Marriott for eight years which cost the country maybe as much as EC$70 million and which money ended up in private hands instead of going to support the Government’s overall tourism efforts;
- the sweetheart contracts and other deals( all will be scrutinized and made public, and every person who has gained unfairly at the expense of the people of this nation will be made to pay dearly);
- the padding up of the public service( at unsustainable cost top the nation) just to secure political capital and to make people politically dependent on him for their survival;
- the extravagant granting of duty concessions (including all of those duty-free vehicles to friends— from pickup trucks to sedans, to SUV’s to Hummers);
- the incessant travel(one person travelled to London, purportedly on government business, but in fact spent much of his time watching sports, while another went to the Middle East, purportedly “to think”);
- the friends who are being allowed to get away with not paying their debts to the Government( all will pay as will those who protected them from paying) ; and
- the atrocious fiscal management of the Prime Minister over the past fifteen years.
Again, in certain other jurisdictions, he would have been long ago sacked and probably impeached for many, if not all, of these things.
So every one of those Labour Ministers needs to choose the side of this mess on which he or she would like to be placed by the people of this nation and by history.
And any one of them, without exception, who continues clinging to Dr. Douglas’ coat-tails will go with him.
They don’t have much time to act, because come 2013, which is just around the corner, the country will again be in election mode. And the ‘BS’ will not work again.
Whatever path these Labour Ministers choose for themselves is up to them, but the people are ready to provide for their own deliverance.
We need a new Prime Minister, and that’s what we’ll have.