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Caribbean 'crumbling under poor leadership and divisive politics'
Published on April 12, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Clive Bacchus

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The humanization of power is the main affliction affecting good governance in the Caribbean, says Joan Purcell, author of the book A Vision for Change.

"To begin with, power has been humanized... power resides in a man, either the prime minister -- well I would say for our Caribbean region prime minister or president to a lesser degree. Power has been taken away from its moorings," she said on Thursday, on WINN FM's Voices programme.

Joan Purcell is a former Grenada Minister of Government and Senate President
"Although... almost all our constitutions we say 'God is supreme,' but it's more lip service than anything. Power resides in a man, power resides in a party. Our politics have become very tribalistic; very, very divisive. The Cabinet has assumed more power than our Parliament and yet our Parliaments, the bastions of democracy, are the overseers of the Executive, but it seems to be the other way around now."

Purcell also argues that politics is occupying too much space in the Caribbean societies

"Politicians offer more than they can ever deliver. The political sphere has overrun all the other spheres," she asserted.

"Whereas there should be varying spheres of governance like self governance where the individual through responsible living governs himself of herself. The Church government, which should be the conscience of the state, and which should be willing to say yea or nay whether it’s beheaded or heeded. The sphere of civil governance, the population, the people, the electorate. We have all narrowed it down to an election every five years, putting a group in power who undo everything that was done before, and the opposition on the other hand seeks to tear up everything the government does. The Parliament has become disrespectful and lacking in civility."

The former government minister and president of the senate in Grenada, Purcell also delivered a lecture in St Kitts recently on the issue. The bane of Caribbean development she contended, is poor political leadership

"I recently read an article published on April 5, 2014, talks about the gathering storm in the Caribbean by Jean H. Charles, and he talks about the fragility of our economies and... that they're really on a razors edge, on a knife edge... and just before that our own Prime Minister Kenny Anthony talked about leaders in self denial even as the economic crisis worsens," she said.

"Our poor and bad politics is reflected more clearly, more obviously, where perhaps you cannot see - well except for corruption, corrupt practices and so on -- where you see the Caribbean crumbling is in its economics because of the poor leadership in its politics in, its policies... etcetera."

Republished with permission of West Indies News Network
Reads: 6050

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canute Patrick Campbell:

The gathering storm.........I take that to mean that one country would revolt and then another one would follow suit and after it would spread like wild fire and consume the remaining Caribbean Countries. Then we would have another Afghanistan here in the Caribbean.

Island Watcher:

Well said Mrs. Joan Purcell. Power does corrupt and making those drunk on their perceived importance. Perhaps what is needed is a third party run exclusively by women. Who, in my opinion have more common sense with their feet firmly planted on the ground. I do believe they would make better leaders of government, protecting the interests of the constitutes they serve. Let's not forget those elected were elected to serve the interests of the people NOT themselves. Clean up the corruption in ALL the high places. Issue arrest warrants for those stealing from the people. Maybe after seeing the results of their doings it would sink into their heads you can’t get away with those practices.

Will it ever happen? When the people get fed up, when a third party can articulate its agenda loud and clear, when the people will listen to the message, when party politics is put aside, when personal attacks cease, when rambling on with false promises and outright untruths cease. Maybe then you will see change for the good of the island. Maybe then one can make a intelligent choice who will best serve the people.

Amory Lashley:

Joan Purcell, I have known you for years, and I know you are a woman of substance, and the Excerpt from this Book confirms my opinion of you. God has given you this message (Book) "For such a time as this." I truly hope and pray that leaders and people in the Caribbean will take time to read it and be guided by what God has placed in your heart. God gave man dominion over the earth, but the earth belongs to Him. Caribbean Leaders and even the Church seem to forget this as a result we have the emergence of "Humanization," where man is in control and God's name is used conveniently to play with the people's beliefs and emotions. Daniel 2:21 - God removes kings and raises up kings. Take heed Caribbean leaders.


To comment effectively on Mrs Purcell's rhetoric I would have to understand her definition of power in a social democratic context; which is the prevailing political ideology in the West Indies, hence I will use a fundamental definition: That political power is an agreement between producers (the electorate) and organised groups (political parties) who are tasked to administer and increase those resources for the good of the whole.

While Mrs Purcell seems to be alerting us to the problems of charismatic leaders in the West Indies under the guise of good governance, she fails to address the main problem eating away at politics, the blurring of ideological differences between political parties and the unwillingness of voters to investigate and parties to highlight those differences. This state of political apathy is not confined to the Caribbean and can be observed in most if not all mature democracies.

With that in mind people now find it easier to identify and transfix their hopes into an accessible human than ideologies of whose dated language has no personal recognition impact on them.

But I ask the question why would I want to invest political power in my church or anyone else’s? And is it naïve and unhelpful to try to extract politics from everyday life? As In the Caribbean we are daily confronted with politicians and political fallout, and most of all we like to talk, we are after all humans governed by humans.

Paco Smith:

I found the attached article, by Mrs. Purcell, rather engaging. She touched on a topic of interest, which although universal, certainly holds considerable significance for the Caribbean; of course, in some jurisdictions, more than others. In the case of Belize, I found it to be spot-on.

I agree with most of what she described. I particularly found her statement which expressed the notion that, “…Power has been taken away from its moorings", of particular interest. Of course, I can speak fundamentally in terms of how it relates to the Belizean context and in so doing, I must say that what we are experiencing in my homeland, is clearly indicative of this phenomenon. Politicians have become so full of themselves it is no laughing matter. A clear example can be highlighted with regard to a recent attempt by the Prime Minister to diffuse the electorate’s growing displeasure with the ever-burgeoning scandals that have rocked his administration, by way of a blatant attempt to renovate the meaning of the word “corruption”. Needless to say, I presume it is not the first time this has occurred in the region, but the blatant manner in which it was done was wholly un-nerving to witness. Even more disturbing is the fact that local reporters did not seize the opportunity to take him to task -

This leads to where I somewhat differ with Mrs. Pucell on a particular point. In the article, she is quoted as saying, “The bane of Caribbean development, is poor political leadership.” My take on the matter is that the true bane of our development is the acquiescence and complacency of our people, to tolerate poor political leadership. I hold true this notion because it is we, the electorate, through the political process, who bestow on the politicians the right to form the government and act as the caretaker of our nation’s well-being. In other words, they are empowered to do right by the people, in the best interest of the nation, and not for themselves. For anyone who is, at least, a casual observer of that which is taking place regionally, should conclude that what I mentioned is by and large, not taking place. In fact, the complete opposite has come to be the norm...that is the self-enrichment of these grubby politicians.

It is due to the failure of the electorate, to hold politicians accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. There are numerous cases of this, far too many I might add, and it is clearly manifest via ineptitude displayed on two fronts. The first is the fact that most people appear to accept that there shall only be two political parties in Belize's political arena. Very few, if any, have made a committed challenge to the status quo by way of launching a national effort directed toward providing a viable option to the PUP and the UDP (PUDP). As a result the people persist in going to the polls, like sheep to the slaughter, and simply choose the one, with which they are less dissatisfied, at the time. Hence the perpetuation of the cycle of mediocrity and the facilitation of an environment in which unscrupulous and unprincipled politicians excel at enriching themselves, family and cronies. Meanwhile, they succeed in shortchanging the majority to whom they should be accountable. In effect, they fail the nation.

I wish to also comment on something Mrs. Purcell highlighted that I believe is entirely salient to the current, Belize condition. She stated, “"Although... almost all our constitutions we say 'God is supreme,' but it's more lip service than anything.” I see this manifest in a variety of forms, especially concerning special interest groups who are: (1) well funded by external sources, (2) intolerant of those who do not share their self-proclaimed, “enlightened” views and (3) are seemingly hell-bent on changing societal norms which are steeped in the constitution and are inextricably linked with Christian doctrine and values.

Not only the church, but anything or anyone who identifies with traditional Christian values is fair game for a systematic attack at being maligned and discredited. That alone is bad, but to boot, our so-called “Honourable, elected officials”, have proven incapable at asserting the sovereignty of our nation-state, against such aggression. Therein lies the crux of the matter, in as much as the politicians are negligent in executing their prescribed responsibilities in this regard, in some cases they are complicit in the illicit agenda. Yet, the buck stops with the electorate, for it is we who empower them by way of the electoral process. Ultimately, through our inaction, we serve to embolden them, via not making them accountable. It is a vicious cycle, and unbeknownst to many, the key to putting a stop to it, rests in the hands of the people.

Indeed, our region is “crumbling under poor leadership and divisive politics”, but more central to the issue is the fact that those who truly hold the power, remain negligent and therefore willful accomplices in the ongoing degenerative political milieu. I believe an apropos term, in this instance, is “cognitive dissonance”.

Therefore, I urge you to not only ‘…think about it…’, but also take proactive steps to do something constructive toward changing the status quo. In the words of the Hon. Philip S.W. Goldson, “the time to save your country, is before you lose it.” In my humble opinion, the expiration of that particular time draweth uncomfortably nigh.


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