One of the most laughable and incredulous moments in Trinidad and Tobago’s political history was the public yellow balloon, albeit ploy, by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that certain “councillors” at a national executive meeting of the United National Congress (UNC) urged her to postpone constitutionally-scheduled local government elections.
The fact is at that meeting, these individuals were not de jure “councillors” because all councillors in the country had already demitted office on July 26, 2013, period. Ergo, at that meeting, they were just former councillors (as in, private citizens), period.
The stark reality is that if private, powerless citizens have the ability, albeit power, to advise the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago on very serious constitutional issues, then we the people need to look for the nearest crapaud to smoke our pipe.
The fact of the matter is that ever since the People’s Partnership Government came to power on May 24, 2010, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar has publicly insisted/repeated/promised she would never, ever postpone elections—local and/or general. In this crucial regard, we must therefore demand the Prime Minister not go back on her word, period.
Furthermore, according to the Constitution, local government elections must be held within 90 days after councillors demit office. That’s the law. In other words, local government elections must be held on or before October 26, 2013.
We must insist/demand Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar “serve the people, serve the people, serve the people” and get with the programme as outlined in the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago—nothing more, nothing less.
In addition, it must be stated quite categorically and equivocally that no prime minister nor former councillors are above the Constitution of this land.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar must adhere not only to the letter of the Constitution, but also and most importantly to her own words/solemn promise to We the People, period. And this must become true irrespective of the negative fallout effects of the historic political crushing/licking in Tobago on January 21, 2013, and regardless of ah massive, “meen” debacle in Chaguanas West on July 29, 2013.
These two events are totally immaterial/irrelevant/unconnected to the mandate of the Constitution and her own word in regard to the holding of local government elections, period.
The stark reality is that if Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar were to go down that slippery political slope and postpone the scheduled local government elections, then the public reaction/outcry/massive demonstrations throughout the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago will be too ghastly to contemplate. In fact, these acerbic, putative explosive public protests will also make the events on July 27, 1990 look like a mild tea party—“fuh real”, Madam Prime Minister.
We must never allow any Prime Minister to tamper with our sacred Constitution. We must never allow any Prime Minister to threaten/erode democracy in this country. We must never allow any Prime Minister to violate the democratic constitutional process in this country.
The leadership of the UNC may choose to violate its own party’s constitution when it comes to the selection of candidates to contest local government elections, but we must never allow any Prime Minister to violate the Constitution of this country when it comes to holding local governments elections.
The Partnership Government must realise the electorate of today is not of the same genre of yesterday. The Government must also realise the electorate of today is more intelligent, more decisive, more probing and more analytical, period. The electorate today clearly knows the difference between performance by a member of Parliament versus party loyalty. We the People of today cannot be fooled and/or taken for granted, period.
The Government must realise the people of today are politically mature and savvy—“yesterday was yesterday, today is today”.
In the final analysis, the leadership of the Government needs to heed the salient but apocalyptic admonition of this country’s first Prime Minister, Dr Eric E Williams when he warned: “(A) government must be careful and never surround itself with advisers who having their own private agendas will whisper only the counsel and compliments that they chose.”
Word to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar via the paraphrasing of a famous, well-known adage: “Magnum Est (the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) Et Pravalebit.”
Shem Hotep (“I go in Peace”).
• Dr Kwame Nantambu is a part-time
lecturer at Cipriani College of
Labour and Co-operative Studies.