By Peter Josie
I TAKE it that by now there is left little doubt that, those who habitually read my weekly columns appreciate my passion for politics and of scrutinizing its main characters. I have openly conceded that I may have been only a so-so leader due mainly to my impatience with mediocrity and lethargy, too near me. I fully understand and believe that training and education are necessary and an essential foundation of a modern progressive society. For this reason I would have invested resources in training and education while I awaited the fruits of such investments with patience. I would try and remember that the best grapes make the best wines.
Demanding the highest quality begins with education and training but does not end there. I would expect the highest efficiency in every aspect of government function including the construction of public housing for those in need. To this end I would expect a two-bedroom house to be completed in two months, fully painted and landscaped and ready for occupation. A three-bedroom house would be expected to be completed in three months.
With such determined efficiency in this and other aspects of the work of government I am often led to pause and to thank God that I have survived politics unscathed and incorruptible. I may not have survived the corrupting inefficiency and selfishness which today is like a putrid carbuncle on the body politics.
Having contested general elections in the years 1974, 1979, 1982, 1987 (twice in thirty days); in 1992, then in 1997 against Kenny Anthony, V’F South, and finally in 2001; (I add my campaign with Sir. John Compton UWP of 2006), I deem these 2016 elections an opportune moment to offer some final words of advice to Allen Chastanet and his UWP team as they conclude a brilliant campaign, well planned and executed and refusing to descend into the gutter with Kenny Anthony and his Labour Party – the scourge of Saint Lucia.
Allen and his UWP have more than an average chance of winning on June 6 and forming the next government of Saint Lucia. I still hold dearly to the idea that the reason Sir. John Compton invited Allen Chastanet to work in his 2006 government by appointing him Minister of Tourism was to groom him to replace the aging patriarch of Saint Lucia politics and founder of the United Workers Party (UWP). Unfortunately Sir John’s death came faster than many expected, thanks to some hawkish and thieves and deviant conduct whom Allen Chastanet have successfully weeded out of the UWP. (The SLP embraces miscreants instead of firing them).
I should now address Allen Chastanet and his UWP directly. First, you guys worked really hard and persevered with prayers. You have ably painted a vision of a new Saint Lucia you wish to create. Stay calm, cool and collected and continue to trust God for guidance. In victory, try and bring people together in prayers and goodwill for the benefit of Saint Lucia. Let gratitude, thankfulness and humility be your constant companions. Please ensure that your victory is celebrated with massive prayer gatherings in each constituency.
Second, postpone the partying and victory celebrations until you have a firm grip on the true economic situation of the country. Admonish UWP candidates and supporters to treat everyone with respect especially opponents. Remember that you do not have to love someone in order to respect them. Each candidate did what he or she could to achieve victory. That is to be applauded. I know from experience that it takes special effort to get rid of the animosity which develops in hard fought political battles and election campaigns.
Third, Allen must be prepared and ready to take the oath of office as soon as possible after his UWP has won a majority of seats. He must invite the Commissioner of Police and Mr. Hermangild Francis (his presumptive nominee for Minister of National Security), and let Francis accompany him to Government House for his swearing. As security is the first rule of life, Mr. Francis should be sworn first as a Senator and then as Minister of National Security immediately after Allen Chastanet. These two then go directly to the office of the Prime Minister. The new Prime Minister may wish to invite the Commissioner of Police to join him and Mr. Francis at the Prime Minister’s office.
The meeting at the Prime Minister’s office is intended as a briefing with the Cabinet Secretary and other senior public officers who have not been sullied by partisan politics. The Cabinet Secretary should be asked to stay as his experience will be needed to arrange the swearing in of new UWP Ministers and to guide the new government. Changes must never eventuate in replacing square pegs with round pegs equally dull and lethargic.
Fourth, a thank you address to the nation reminding them of your “five to stay alive” plan whilst giving more details where necessary. Let humility, impartiality, and kindness guide your administration’s every function. Pray often! Social and economic advance for all the people without malice or compromise must be the prayer on the lips of every Minister and the government. Remember to stay calm, cool and confident, no matter what. In other words be yourself.
Five, arrange for a meeting of the House of Assembly within the shortest possible time period. Be certain to place the abandoned secretive budget on the day’s agenda and to officially vote against it; setting it aside and presenting your own budget proposals, at least in summarized form, initially. If needs be, change the financial year and present a full comprehensive budget later.
Six, appoint a government PRO, press secretary and other communication experts as soon as possible. Be nice and gentle to everyone and do not foolishly dismiss people without a clear understanding of their work and who and what it would take to replace them and improve performance and productivity. Always bear in mind that you came to make life better for everybody. Therefore only employ the best and most efficient persons who would help you fulfill the needs of the people – all the people.
Make it clear to all and sundry who is in charge. Remember the buck stops at your desk. Always wear a velvet glove on strong iron hands. Let it be clear by your actions and without uttering a word that change will be your government’s mantra for the duration of your government stay in office.
Finally, remember nature abhors a vacuum. Do not leave the airwaves to miscreants or their hacks and leaders. I include here those politicians that have lied and abused the goodwill of the people. Be extremely careful when dealing with millionaires and other excessively rich men in search of ways to milk and abuse unwary governments in small independent countries such as Saint Lucia.
May God guide your every step in the good you set out to do for his people.