By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- According to a former government minister, it is time for the current administration to stop using state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation of St Kitts and Nevis (ZIZ) as an arm of the governing Labour Party.
Former government minister Dwyer Astaphan
While ZIZ has been praised for conducting discussions in the areas of music and sports, in which a wide range of interest groups are allowed to participate, political activist Dwyer Astaphan said he would like to see further democratization of ZIZ, to embrace discussions that include politicians from all shades in the Federation.
"While it is possible for people of different opinions to sit and share those different opinions on the ZIZ microphones in music, or in sport, or in other subjects, the political opposition in this country, is not allowed an opportunity to go on ZIZ. Mind you, ZIZ belongs to everybody in the country," Astaphan said.
"I will recall for you, if you don't recall, that the Labour Party's manifesto in 1995 condemned the misuse of ZIZ and committed itself -- and I was part of that commitment -- to opening up and democratizing the government broadcast facilities. That was nineteen years ago."
Astaphan, who was part of the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party government before retiring from politics, recalled after the 2000 election being given the portfolio that oversaw ZIZ.
"And I remember making a suggestion that we should open ZIZ to the different interest groups in the community, on a daily basis on a rotational basis, give everybody 15, 30 minutes to have their say on whatever perspective they bring to the public debate, and I remember being told, 'Good idea, but bad time. The people not ready,'" he recounted.
"Well we condemned PAM for what they did with ZIZ. You cannot condemn something and then be guilty of it, and then expect people to respect you. And if in 2000 the people of this country were not ready for the democratization of ZIZ, what is your explanation for their unreadiness 14 years later?" he asked.
"How can you rationalize and justify 19 years in office, if you claim to have brought the people to a high plain of social, economic, and political development how can you still claim, how can you get away with, holding on ZIZ as an arm of the incumbent party?"
Astaphan is today a very vocal critic of the Denzil Douglas administration of which he was once a part.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network