I predict this is going to be a very eventful year for St Lucia, politically.
I believe that the people of this country will be so pushed to the brink by the St Lucia Labour Party government that they will begin to hit back.
There have been many frequent statements made in recent times about the deafening silence among the people in the face of several acts of the Labour Party since coming to office 18 months ago, from its reneging on promises made to the electorate at election time, to its stoppage of major capital projects that sent hundreds onto the breadline, to its exploitation of the masses with high fuel prices at a time when market prices are falling.
There is no doubt that what the people thought of the Labour Party prior to July 2021 in terms of its promises and ability to govern this country have not positively materialized. On the other hand, the government has started deluding itself into believing that all is well and that it still has the support of the people. This is a fallacy.
In recent weeks more and more people have begun grumbling loudly about the state of things in the country as increased prices begin to bite into their pockets and survival becomes a challenge. There have been other frustrations as well, like the state of the island’s roads, health services etc.
The character and integrity of the government too has come into the equation as people seem to have woken up from their post-election slumber to recognize the true nature of the beast that they elected so overwhelmingly. The decision to “lease” two of the island’s seaports to a foreign company for 30 years, especially without explanation has not gone down well, and suspicions have been aroused as to who or what is the true beneficiary of the deal.
But a recent open letter in the press to the Prime Minister, anonymously signed by someone on behalf of hotel workers and residents of the densely populated north and complaining about roads and the toll this is taking on getting to places of work may be the first incident of organized protest against the government to be witnessed here. Said the letter in part: “For heaven’s sake get off your high horse and understand the importance of addressing the four-lane roadway commenced by the former administration. This is no time for petty politics at the expense of the nation’s top income earning industry (tourism).”
The advice is timely because it is now clear to many people that the government has assumed a high handed posture in its governance that is becoming a turnoff, as it rides almost roughshod over all and sundry with its immense power . Nowhere was this more obvious than in its shutting down of so many construction projects on which so many depended for a livelihood…and all because of politics.
The Prime Minister has himself sullied the political waters giving us the clear impression that he has an unexplained beef with his predecessor that is consuming him to the extent that if the country has to party for his vendetta—whatever that may be– then so be it. In pursuing his goal, he continues to remind us of his “little black boy” badge as though this was important to any of us.
Some nights ago, we saw the Prime Minister deliver what was intended to be a New Year message which should have served to energize the country and give confidence that after 18 months on the job, the government was finally beginning to get its act together. But no such luck. It is difficult to see how in this kind of atmosphere, our country can record any meaningful progress.
But the Prime Minister has so far been lucky that he has in his corner a rather compliant and accommodating news media that has not roasted him over the coals for his visionless and lackluster performance to date. No previous government in St Lucia has been so fortunate to have had almost an entire media fraternity at its beck and call that refuses to take him to task when he goes off the rails. The fact that the government has bought off with jobs many who used to work in the media, seems to have also insulated it from closer scrutiny from “the fourth estate”, especially after it attempted to get one critic off the airwaves.
Still, there is an undercurrent of resentment to how the government is running the country that appears to be beginning to build and could blossom into something bigger in the months ahead as people’s patience begins to wear thin.