Two political scientists raise concern that Barbados is stuck in a rut
Barbados is currently caught up in a political “stalemate” with no immediate end in sight.
This assessment came today from political scientist Dr George Belle, as he cautioned that both Government and the Opposition were faced with serious internal challenges which they would eventually have to face up to.
Belle’s comments came against the backdrop of an apparent rift between Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, which has prompted Estwick to formally write to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart warning Stuart that unless he brought Sinckler back in line, Estwick may not continue on in his Cabinet.
Reacting to the development, Belle said the situation only served to highlight the “weakness of the Government”.
In fact, he suggested that the Freundel Stuart administration was so weak that the Cabinet was now in “disarray”.
“The Government seems to have reached a stalemate. What the stalemate in Government does is to create opportunities for people on one side or the other. They would do that on the basis of how they judge their political futures,” he said.
He emphasized that the current administration was currently split in two factions – one which felt its future was tied up in maintaining the status quo and another made up of persons who felt their political careers would be best advanced if the Democratic Labour Party goes back into Opposition.
“When that starts to evolve, the interests will start to separate within the Cabinet,” Belle argued.
With Government in the position that it is, Belle argued that the masses should be taking to the streets.
However, he said the fact that they were not meant that Opposition Leader Mia Mottley would soon need to face up to some difficult questions.
“A leader cannot be too far ahead of the people otherwise they would leave you out there. At some point she has to ask, ‘where are you all?’ If the people are not coming with you, you cannot go anywhere or any further.”
“Where are the masses of the people? he asked.
Making a comparison to the recent situation in the United States where there were police shootings of blacks, he noted “black, white and green people are on the streets [of the US] . . . [but] here in Barbados people are being laid off, they are being sent to an Employment Rights Tribunal that does not exist and everyone is sitting down and taking it”.
Belle therefore said “Mottley has to have an understanding of who is behind her.
“If the people are not behind you, or you cannot be sure of that, you cannot keep going forward. Soon you would recognize that there is no one behind you. In Mottley’s case that is the nature of the stalemate,”
However, one of his former University of the West Indies colleagues has suggested that there still may be a way for Mottley to break the current deadlock, even as he criticized her recent decision to hold a public march against the Government’s imposition of the Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
Dr Tennyson Joseph, who is a lecturer in political science at the UWI’S Cave Hill Campus believes that the Opposition Leader would have been better served had she called a march around an issue such as the non-payment of tax returns, which he said had a beginning and an end.
“The pending lay offs in the public sector and the merging of statutory corporations are issues around which a movement can be built,” Joseph added.
However, he argued that “the Municipal Solid Waste Tax was “too abstract a demand and one that Mottley cannot force the Government to reverse”.
As for the Government and in particular, the Estwick saga, Joseph pointed out that “in a Westminster System actions like these are abnormal”, but he said “we are in a condition of abnormality and because we are in a condition of abnormality, abnormality now passes as normal.
“In the case of Estwick, what I am sensing is a genuine sense of professional frustration. There seems to be a big split between him and the Minister of Finance on what needs to be done to assist the sugar industry.
In this situation, the proper thing to do is to resign from the Cabinet,” Joseph said.
The political scientist also said there were other cases where ministers were faced with “resignable options”, citing Minister of Education Ronald Jones, who had promised the awarding of 3,000 bursaries to UWI students that never materialized.