The Opposition’s Position
The members for the Opposition reiterate our earlier denunciation that what was done in the House violated the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Many people before us fought for our Constitution to ensure that we are able to benefit from those freedoms which it guarantees.
PM Gonsalves has transformed our Parliament into a pantomime, by which he indulges himself in acting out narcissistic fantasies. He obeys rules and laws when it suits his purpose and ignores and tramples on other laws when it does not suit his purpose to follow them.
He flaunts the garb of democratic governance but functions like a despot, reminiscent in many eyes of recently deposed Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The succession debacle
What is most intriguing about the PM’s frustration of the Motion of no Confidence, is that during the course of the heated debate on the impropriety of amending it, the Member of Parliament for South Central Windward, Hon. Saboto Caesar, who is the Minister of Agriculture in the ULP Government, protested passionately to the Speaker, pronouncing that PM Ralph Gonsalves does not have the moral or legal authority to speak for him.
“Mr. Speaker, with respect, ………the Prime Minister…… doesn’t have the moral or legal authority to speak on behalf of Saboto Caesar at anyplace, at any time in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you do not know if I am going to vote with the opposition. You do not know that!”
Minister Caesar was once regarded by observers as a leading candidate to succeed PM Gonsalves as leader of the ULP and Prime Minister, but more recently, the Prime Minister has been manifestly showing preference for his own son, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves MP, whom the PM clandestinely elevated some weeks ago, to the post of Minister of Finance and thereby eclipsing any chances that Minister Caesar had of succeeding him and becoming Prime Minister; even as the older Gonsalves accelerates the process of handing over the leadership of the ULP and the mantle of Prime Minister.
The Minister of Finance sex Scandal
Another most poignant aspect of this melodrama being played out in an atmosphere of national outrage, is that the ULP Government is currently embroiled in yet another sex scandal, in which a 23 year old Vincentian model Ms Yugge Farrell, with regional recognition, but from a humble parentage; claims that the younger Gonsalves cheated on his wife in an intimate relationship with her for over three years.
Ms Farrell was arrested on January 4, 2018 and charged with using abusive language to Mrs. Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, then a Senior Crown Counsel in the Attorney General’s office, who is wife of Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves and daughter-in-law of PM Ralph Gonsalves (and who only days ago has been installed as the acting Executive Director of the Financial Services Authority of SVG, precipitating further outcries of nepotism among the Gonsalves’ family members). After Ms Farrell pleaded not guilty before the Magistrate Court, the prosecutor requested that she be sent to a psychiatric facility for evaluation.
She spent three weeks detained in the Mental Health Centre and as a direct result of pervasive condemnation levelled at the Government and the judicial process, she was eventually granted EC$1000 bail on January 29, 2018 and further hearing of the charge against her adjourned to December 17, 2018.
There was no supporting evidence or manifest behaviour by Ms. Farrell, which warranted the prosecutor and magistrate seeking and deciding to commit Ms. Farrell to the Mental Health Centre. Furthermore, it is reliably reported that medication was administered to Ms. Farrell, although the Mental Health Act only speaks to observation and evaluation of persons and does not include any mechanism for oversight of involuntary admissions and treatment practices. Also worrisome is the fact that the Mental Health Centre does not currently have trained specialist psychiatrists on staff.
Hundreds of regional and international organizations which are active in the sphere of human rights and women’s rights advocacy, have been protesting the manner in which this matter is being mishandled by the government institutions and have also been expressing their solidarity with Ms Farrell. In one such joint statement by some regional organizations they resolve that: –
“We note the alleged romantic relationship that Ms. Farrell has publicly claimed with Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and caution those who rush to dismiss this incident as simply a matter of ‘love gone bad’ to reflect on the fact that state entities can easily use the excuse of mental instability to vilify, discredit, and institutionalize any critic or person(s) deemed a threat or embarrassment to the established political order.”
While the Minister of Finance has remained silent, his father has taken to several radio stations, commenting on the scandal and has also spoken about it at a press conference.
In one of these broadcasts the Prime Minister in defending the decision to send Ms Farrell to the Mental Health Centre, has made the further outrageous declaration, for which he has been rebuked by experienced lawyers and jurists, as being a distortion of the ordinary judicial process, that: –
” ……..a magistrate can decide to commit someone to the psychiatric hospital based on information that the prosecutor gives the magistrate outside of the court proceedings and which is not disclosed to either the defendant or to their lawyer”.
The PM has also said that he would not lead the ULP into another election, but will seek re-election as member of Parliament for North Central Windward, which he has been representing since 1994.
A clear statement of his intention of establishing a dynastic puppet administration with his son fronting for him, as he continues to wield power over the country, like a covert puppeteer.
Woeful socio-economic conditions
In the meantime, the ULP Government has been failing the people of SVG miserably in providing a satisfactory quality of life. The priorities of the Government in its use of taxpayers’ money have produced totally inadequate health services and basic maintenance of roads.
The collapse of the economy has deprived our youth of hope and employment opportunities and a climate of fear through intimidation at all levels of Vincentian society, has become widespread due to the manifest abuse of the powers of the State and its institutions, which are regularly employed as weapons against citizens, to serve the agenda of Government officials, their family members and associates and have been characterized by some commentators as being cynical, manipulative and unethical.
There has been a breakdown in law and order as demonstrated by the incidence of rampant crime and the failure of the various agencies of law enforcement to protect the more vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, women and young persons.