THE St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is at an all-time low in the public’s perception of its ability to govern this country and move it on a path of economic growth and prosperity. For all the noise that the Prime Minister made at the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School on Sunday, November 30, the fact is that the “Blue Print for Growth” has failed to deliver any positive growth in this country since Labour came to office on November 29, 2011. The statistics are there. Negative growth or simply put, Saint Lucia’s economy has shrunk for two consecutive years (2012 and 2013) since this Administration came into office. The level of unemployment has worsened under Labour while they promised “jobs, jobs and more jobs.” The debt to GDP ratio has increased and the fiscal gap widened. Every macroeconomic indicator of significance has gotten worse since Stephenson King left office. By any measure, Labour has failed measurably.
Yet, the UWP seems hell bent on remaining in opposition – all by their own doing. In its 50 years of existence, this must truly be the lowest the United Workers Party (UWP) has ever been in terms of the capacity of its leadership to demonstrate clear, logical and rational decision making and strategy formulation. The Party seems unable to get the simple things right even when every effort is being made to help them stay on course. For instance, why would the Chairman of the UWP, Ezekiel Joseph, after having campaigned the length and breath of the country and successfully convinced delegates that he is the best man to be the Party’s Chairman, decide that he now wants to be a candidate for the Babonneau constituency when Dr. Claudius Preville clearly indicated his interest prior to Mr. Ezekiel Joseph.
Ezekiel lost the seat to Alvina Reynolds in the 2011 General Elections and subsequently showed no interest in the constituency. The members of the Babonneau Branch of the UWP know that is the truth. He decided that he wanted to remain Chairman of the Party even in the face of a challenge by Eldridge Stephens. So he defeats Mr. Stephens at the polls and two weeks later, he is on television stating that the people of Babonneau have asked him to be the candidate. What a farce. It would seem that Ezekiel Joseph had no idea that “the people” wanted him to be their candidate for the UWP before the convention. But suppose he knew of the people’s desire prior to the November 2, 2014 UWP Convention, why would he then have contested for the position of Chairman.
Then the UWP Leader joins the discussion and states that the UWP Constitution does not prevent the Chairman from being a Chairman and candidate. How sad for a person who wants to be Prime Minister. Mr. Chastanet has missed the point all together. The issue of Ezekiel Joseph being Chairman of the UWP and vying to be a candidate against a member of the party is not a constitutional matter. This is a simple matter of good governance and sound organizational practice. How can Allen and Ezekiel not see that by the mere fact that Ezekiel is the Chairman of the Party, he cannot ethically contest for a lower position in the same party that he is Chairman of. Ezekiel must by now know, having served as Chairman of the Party for the last year and five months, that he is overall responsible for the management of the Party and that includes ensuring the formation and development of constituency branches. Surely Mr. Joseph must know by now that he wields as much if not more power than the Political Leader of the Party when it comes to the institutional management of the Party. Hence for him to remain as Chairman and simultaneously compete against another member for a lesser position in the Party is not only unfair, it is reprehensible. In fact, no member of the UWP can contest for a position in the Party against the Chairman. It is “his” Party.
Allen and Ezekiel have cited precedence in the Party where the Chairman has been a candidate for a constituency. Of course the word “precedence” has a meaning. It refers to an exact situation in the past which is mirrored in the present. The fact is that while past UWP Chairmen have been candidates, there has never been an occasion where any of these Chairmen had to contest with another member for the seat where they had an interest. Hence there is no precedence for what Ezekiel Joseph wants to do in Babonneau against Dr.Preville. Truth be told, Mr. Joseph was one of the most vocal persons who called for the resignation of former Party Chairman Karl Daniel when he indicated his interest in contesting the Vieux Fort North seat in 2006. Michael Flood was made interim Chairman. Joseph contended then that Mr. Daniel could not be a sitting Party Chairman and candidate at the same time although there was no other UWP contender for Vieux Fort North . Why then is Ezekiel Joseph now bent on engaging in “run off” in Babonneau against Dr.Preville.
At the very least, he must first resign before contesting. And if he does resign, it then begs the question, why did he compete to regain the Party Chairmanship a mere four weeks ago. What manner of man is this and how could Allen Chastanet preside as Political Leader over such a Party when his Chairman wants to simultaneously hold multiple positions in the Party? Does Allen not recognize that the people of Saint Lucia cannot and will not take the current UWP as a serious or credible organization to govern Saint Lucia when that is what the state of the thinking within the Party? If Mr. Chastanet cannot recognize a governance (not constitutional) issue within his political organization, how can he expect the people of Saint Lucia to trust him to exercise good governance over the country of Saint Lucia.
I am a UWP supporter and Allen, Ezekiel and the entire Executive of the UWP must know that many supporters and “swing” voters are observing what happens in Babonneau. There is an intended date of Tuesday, December 9, 2014 as the “runs off” for this seat. I urge the Party to seek all advice, legal and otherwise and move away from the direction that this is headed. Ezekiel must be content to be Party Chairman. After all this is the highest position in the Party next to Political Leader and one that he fought for and won a mere four weeks ago.