Alvina Reynolds (L) and Victor La Corbiniere
By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Women in Action (WIA), the women’s arm of the opposition United Workers’ Party (UWP) in Saint Lucia, on Tuesday called for the immediate resignation of Alvina Reynolds, minister of health, wellness, human services and gender relations, and Senator Victor La Corbiniere, minister of legal affairs, home affairs and internal security.
According to the WIA, under Reynolds’ watch there have been serious breaches and gaps in the public health systems and La Corbiniere continues to ignore the serious crime situation in the country.
However, UWP member of parliament and former minister, Richard Frederick, took a different view, saying that no minister should be made to resign unless he or she has done something wrong that can be substantiated with evidence.
“Sometimes politicians see things as being politically expedient for us to seek the resignation of this minster and that minister. As to whether it is in the interest of the country and the public is a totally different scenario. In my humble view, unless a minister has done something that can be substantiated with evidence, then I don’t think that a minister should be made to resign just on the whims and fancies of an opposing party, and that goes for everybody, not necessarily La Corbiniere,” Frederick said.
He referred to calls for his own resignation as a minister and said, now that events are unfolding, people realise that that there was no justification for such a call.
In March 2006, La Corbiniere unsuccessfully contested the Castries Central seat as the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) candidate against Frederick.
“He was one who took me to task, he was one who said a lot of stuff about me but I do not see that he should resign because of a request coming from someone or a party that does not support him,” Frederick said.
Separately, former MP and agriculture minister in the previous UWP government Ezechiel Joseph, now party chairman, called somewhat unrealistically for the resignation of the “entire government”.
Melanius Alphonse, speaking on behalf of the Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM) pointed out that the parlous state of healthcare and crime in Saint Lucia is one that predates both Reynolds and La Corbiniere, although this does not exonerate either of them for their “dismal performance and aimless management as seasoned professionals in their respective fields”.
However, he added, the LPM concedes that the management of both healthcare and crime has become noticeably worse under the current SLP government, while pointing out that the UWP under its current leadership is at the same time trying to distance itself as mere political expediency from all responsibility for the unfortunate position in which the country finds itself today.
“A lot of the blame for where Saint Lucia is today rests on the shoulders of both parties, which have allowed healthcare and crime to deteriorate to levels that may be impossible to manage unless there is a national consensus on how to effectively root out crime and to secure Saint Lucia’s porous borders, with all the tools available locally and internationally,” Alphonse said.
He said the LPM believes the way forward for Saint Lucia is through a national consultation on healthcare and crime, which engages the entire citizenry of the country in order to address effectively those very serious concerns.
In an earlier op-ed piece on April 3, 2014, (Health care in St Lucia
), Alphonse focused on the demise of the Soufriere hospital, the challenge that already exists to maintain other health facilities and now to furnish the new hospital with modern equipment and highly trained human resource in a competitive marketplace.
He also pointed to the sixteen policy positions and six law enforcement and anti-crime measures proposed by the LPM in an open letter to Dr Kenny Anthony
, prime minister of Saint Lucia, on January 24, 2014.
According to the WIA, a number of unexplained deaths have occurred at public health facilities in Saint Lucia and the results of investigations have yet to materialize despite promises made by Reynolds.
“Contagious diseases such as chikungunya are rampant while the minister has failed to inform the citizens of the extent of this epidemic, which is widespread, nor has she bothered to embark on any public education campaign,” the WIA said, apparently ignorant of the fact that chikungunya is not a contagious disease but a viral infection similar to dengue fever spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
“The forensic laboratory remains comatose without proper technical staff and the minister is now callously asking aggrieved citizens to seek recourse through the civil courts in cases where citizens died whilst in custody of the state. Minister La Corbinere is oblivious to the many victims of rape and families of victims of murder, who crave emotional relief and closure, by ensuring that all investigative services, especially forensic, are functioning properly and efficiently,” the WIA continued.
However, Alphonse responded that, unless there is a willingness to accept the need for an overarching national strategy in saving the country, calls for the resignation of Reynolds and La Corbiniere are likely to be “absolutely meaningless.”