EDITORIAL: Here we go again

There is something about politics and politicians that we simply do not understand.  They talk a big talk and deliver mere morsels.  This applies to all sides and all aspects of politics; from promises to acquisitions and everything in between.  

Take for instance, the case against the three former Cabinet ministers who served under the United Progressive Party (UPP) who are expected in court early next year. They will defend themselves against the government’s appeal of the court’s decision to dismiss criminal charges of corruption, fraud, larceny and embezzlement charges.  Serious charges, no doubt about that, but is this the biggest fish that the current administration can land in the supposed sea of corruption that they claimed existed before?  Three buses that were allegedly registered and used inappropriately?  If that was the extent of corruption in our land then we would be the most honest country on earth.

It reminds us of the UPP’s claims of rampant corruption leading up to the election of 2004; or really any election for that matter.  In the campaign, it was all about corruption, mismanagement and the need for change.  In their 2004 manifesto, they stated, “the corruption of the ruling elite reached astronomical levels and became an object of worldwide awe.”  However, when the ‘rubber met the road’ there were no major corruption scandals unearthed that captured a worldwide audience.  The ‘Justice Day’ that many voted for simply never materialised.

Fast forward to 2009 and the message remained relatively the same.  ‘Justice Day’ morphed into ‘Judgement Day’ and the people kept the faith that all the rhetoric regarding corruption would one day occur.  Instead, the voters were told about judicial process, and the much hyped Linquist Report pulled a magical vanishing act worthy of a Las Vegas stage.  Then in a classic case of ‘flipping the script’, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), in the 2014 general elections, executed the corruption, mismanagement and the need for change playbook against the UPP.  

The 2014 ABLP campaign was near exact on these points as the previous UPP campaigns.  The party’s manifesto would refer to the UPP’s reign as “10 miserable years of incompetence, mismanagement and corruption.”  Based on the predictable outcome, it would appear that, while the UPP may have authored the anti-corruption campaign 10 years earlier, they never planned a possible defence.  That led to “promise-made-promise-kept” administration seeking to keep their promise in the same way that the UPP did in the previous 10 years.

Categorising the UPP’s 10-year corruption investigations as a witch-hunt, the party claimed that there were very specific instances of corruption that they would address once elected.  The list included “the fences scandal”, “the airport scandal”, and “the power plant scandal”; to name just a few.  Nowhere on the list did we see the ‘Korean bus scandal’ but that, and the ‘Board of Education scandal’, are the only two that have seen the light of day.  Neither of which comes close to the serious allegations contained in the 2014 manifesto.  

The airport was opened, the power plant is (kind of) open and the fences remain unfinished to this day. And, as we said, this is just a few of a long list which ended with “there are many others such as buying buildings that the government and statutory bodies did not need but for which kickbacks were paid; kickbacks for the Citizenship by Investment Programme; and kickbacks for public works contracts.” All of these should be easy to investigate and prosecute if wrongdoing was found to have been done. Yet, the public is offered (alleged) corruption morsels to satisfy the hunger for justice.  

Based on what we have seen, it appears that the delivery of justice on the elusive judgement day will never materialise.  We are firm believers that corruption must be rooted out of our politics and since we have no political affiliation, we can say that our belief applies to all parties, all politicians and all enablers. We, as a nation, will never be successful if those in positions of trust, betray that trust with practical immunity.   

We leave you with the words of famed civil rights advocate, Malcolm X, who said, “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”

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