Writing On The Wahl #017 — Anti-Corruption or Politics as Usual?

SSU outside of the Financial Administrative Complex

Today’s blog is by no means in defence of any politician, red or yellow.

It has become somewhat a tradition in Saint Lucian politics to levy accusations of corruption on your political opponents. True or false, based on evidence or speculation, it has become the primary play to sully the name of your rival in attempts to assassinate their character.

After the 1997 Labour Landslide, we had the Blom-Cooper report, which was supposed to unearth all the evils of John Compton and the past United Workers Party (UWP) administration. Following that, almost ten years later, we had the Ramsahoye Report, which was supposed to reveal the evils of Kenny Anthoney and the past Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP). Since then, several investigations into individuals and administrations have come and gone with little accountability found.

Sadly it is not new; we could travel down the halls of history and find report after report, inquest after inquest. Some are more damning than others, but all indicating that we are, have been, and possibly will always be emersed in the deep dodo of corruption.

In this election cycle, allegations of corruption featured prominently. Retired political prostitutes who were key figures in past scandals paraded on national airwaves by the same side, claiming an anti-corruption agenda. The same side who several of their candidates themselves have questionable characters and checkered pasts.

So do we care about corruption, or is it just virtue signalling?

Sadly, we do not give a damn, but we act as if we do to save face. In a recent blog, I used a quote from William Shakespeare in highlighting our politics as nothing but a game.

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players, they have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”

We all know how things work in Saint Lucia. While some of us genuinely care about addressing the scourge of corruption, most merely go along to get along, only caring that they are not the ones benefiting from the illicit gains.

Yesterday the Financial Administrative Complex and the Communications and Works building in Union were locked down by the SSU. I barely made the news, with the only mainstream outlet covering the story being DBS.

The initial rumours were that all ministries were being secured to preserve documents, but that was not true. Only the Ministries which had the figure prints of Guy Joseph were targeted — indicating that the new administration will be pursuing yet another politically motivated investigation.

I am not saying that Guy Joseph should not be investigated. But if it is limited to just him or just his political party, we shall continue to spin top in the mud going nowhere fast. What we need is a government-wide audit. A targetless investigation and allow the findings to narrow our sights on whomsoever it may. It could be a politician, political appointee or civil servant. Anybody found to be directly responsible for or complicit in committing a crime against the state must be held to account.

By hyper-focusing on predetermined targets, we shall miss the forest for the tree. Therefore, if the new administration is serious about pushing an anti-corruption agenda, they must drop the tradition of political persecution of select individuals and broaden the scope of any investigation. They must not fear their own being caught in the net and be ready to sacrifice them in the name of transparency and accountability.

If the new administration is not ready or willing to make that level of commitment, they should drop all efforts at pinning the tall tales of corruption solely on their opposition.

We are underwater and drowning. We cannot afford to waste any more time and money on frivolous pursuits that do not deliver justice.

Before Nelson Mandela left prison, he said.

“As I stand before the door to my freedom, I realize that if I do not leave my pain, anger, and bitterness behind me, I will still be in prison.”

Forgiveness does not make you weak, it sets you free, and I wish to see our new Prime Minister, Mr. Philip J. Pierre, set free from the bondage of expectations. His most ardent supporters expect him to go after Guy Joseph. But that may only lead him towards his demise by causing any chance of unity to be lost.

On my first appearance with Rick Wayne on Talk, I asked who threw the first stone? As in who is responsible for the family feud, we find ourselves embroiled. My point was that as much as I want to see politicians held accountable and justice served, we need first to understand our priorities.

We must let go of the past and focus on the future. Not forget the past but let go of its pains so we can move forward and have at least a slim hope to prosper.

I have enough forgiveness in my heart for all, and I hope the same can be said for Philip J Pierre, who will officially be sworn in today as Prime Minister. If he is to have any chance at achieving half of his aims and ambitions, he will need the buy-in of a large portion of the nation, a portion that will invariably contain members of the opposition party. If he starts on the footing of political persecution, it will be a long road for his administration.

My suggestion is to learn from the past but leave it in the past. Please make the necessary reforms so it never repeats itself, empowering a future generation to deal with those who may arise during their dispensation.

Until Then.
Be strong, stay safe, and God bless Saint Lucia.

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Social commentary & political analysis of current affairs and the news worldwide — focusing on implications for Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians in the diaspora.

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Jody A. von Wahl

Jody A. von Wahl

Social commentary & political analysis of current affairs and the news worldwide — focusing on implications for Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians in the diaspora.

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