Comissiong to miss out on Thursday’s Opposition march, but urges Bajans to stand up and be counted
You can count David Comissiong out of tomorrow’s anti-tax march, even though the President of the Clement Payne Movement says he is giving his full backing to Opposition Leader Mia Mottley’s efforts to secure a repeal of the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
Following a press conference at the Movement’s Crumpton Street headquarters this morning, Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that while he supported the march in principle and strongly urges Barbadians to turn out in their numbers to show support, he was driven by other considerations.
He said he had to be conscious of the fact that he was one of the leaders currently engaged in building a very important civil society movement, which had to be independent of the two major political parties. Therefore, he said, he must be seen to be independent, adding that out of an abundance of caution, and in an effort not to confuse things, or give out any wrong impression, he had decided not to be physically present among the demonstrators.
“I, however, wish them a very successful March tomorrow,” he told Barbados TODAY.
In further support of Mottley’s efforts, the outspoken political activist and attorney-at-law said he saw nothing wrong with what she was doing in furtherance of her mandate as Leader of the Opposition.
He noted that Thursday’s Opposition-led action was coming ahead of the Day of National Significance on Saturday, which is in commemoration of the 1937 peoples uprising.
During the press conference, Comissiong also referred to two recent marches organised by his comrade Robert “Bobby” Clarke, saying these developments should be welcomed in Barbados because they show that the country is getting back in tune with its revolutionary tradition.
“We are getting back in tune with our tradition of saying there is always something that can be done; we can always find ways of making demands in the system and moving forward. We would like to encourage that kind of attitude on the part of the Barbadian people and support those kinds of endeavours in Barbados as being part of our national Barbadian tradition of political and social activism,” he said.
Comissiong added: “I support what Miss Mottley is doing and I think Barbadians need to understand that Miss Mottley is not simply the Barbados Labour Party leader, Miss Motley is our Leader Of The Opposition.
“The post of Leader Of The Opposition is a constitutionally authorized and constructed office. And therefore it is her duty to the country and to us, who ultimately pay her salary, as Leader Of The Opposition is . . . if there is something to be agitated against, she has a constitutional duty to perform those functions. And we in fact are entitled to demand that she carries out that duty.
“I would like Barbadians to understand that the Prime Minister is not the Prime Minister of the Democratic Labour Party, he is our Prime Minister, all of us contribute to paying his salary, all of us have a right to make demands of him.
“Similarly, with the Leader Of The Opposition, it is not the BLP’s opposition, it is our Leader Of The Opposition. We have the right to walk into the Opposition Office and say, “Miss Motley, we insist that you do x,y and z because we pay your salary, you are accountable to us’,” Comissiong stressed.
He said though scores turned out to march with Clarke, he regretted that thousands did not hit the road for those activities.
In light of the state of crisis and stagnancy being experienced in Barbados, he also expressed the view that “those marches should have been supported by tens of thousands of Barbadians”.
He said the low turnout was a reflection of a regrettable attitude by Barbadians which does a great disservice and insults the island’s ancestors who fought and prepared to die or be imprisoned for a free Barbados.
“We today, what are we afraid of? Nobody is going to kill you if you take part in a march. Nobody is going to imprison you if you take part in a march. What is this victimisation that you are afraid of? I think really and truly most of it is a figment of people’s imagination and we need to get over it because we are really doing a disservice to our history, to our industrious ancestors.
“So let us put things in perspective, whatever consequences there may be, they are not in comparison to what [activists] Clement Payne and Israel Lovell were prepared to undergo,” Comissiong said.