Editorial: The link to political victimisation

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The wonderfully hypocritical world of politics never ceases to amaze us.  As if the Barbuda situation could become even more bizarre, we now have the government’s Chief Of Staff expressing concern about possible political victimisation of Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) supporters in the employ of the Barbuda Council.
Where does all this concern come from?  Well, recently Trevor Walker, Member of Parliament for Barbuda, issued a warning to all workers of the Barbuda Council that the cash- strapped body could not continue to pay people who were unwilling to return to the island to do their part in the clean-up and reconstruction.  The pronouncement certainly seemed in line with the ABLP’s rhetoric on the matter, since the party has been highly critical of those Barbudans whom they believe are sitting back, doing nothing and waiting for someone else to do the hard work.  But, apparently not; at least, not in the eyes of the Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst.
Somehow he has made a connection between the Barbudans who are unwilling to help and ABLP supporters.  According to him, the jobs of workers who gained employment on the Council when the ABLP had control may be at stake.  That kind of logic eludes us.  We did not see a connection between ABLP supporters employed by the Council and the Barbudans who are not returning to help, but Hurst apparently did or does. Maybe he can enlighten the nation as to the connection.
It seems to be a case of agreement as long as the ABLP supporters are given a pass.   Not only that.  Hurst is contending that when the ABLP had majority seats on the council, a number of people were added to the payroll and the party is fearful that these ABLP supporters will be victimised.  So, the Chief of Staff is saying that the ABLP further bloated the payroll of the Council, is vexed that it is bloated, vexed that certain Barbudans are not returning to help rebuild, but if any of the ABLP supporters are axed to keep costs down, it will be considered “political victimisation?” The convoluted train of thought escapes us!
Now, before we get accused of putting words in  Hurst’s mouth, this is what he said at a recent post-cabinet briefing, “We have warned Trevor Walker about political victimisation. We warned that if he plans to reduce the council, there must be no indication that he is aiming at ABLP supporters. We fear that this is the underlying reason why he is making these pronouncements.”  Hurst even said that Walker issued the general warning when the recon-
stituted Barbuda Council held its first meeting, but he somehow sees a link to that warning and the ABLP supporters.  How?  Again, there must be something that we are missing.  Is the Chief of Staff insinuating that the Barbudans who are not returning to help in the clean-up and rebuilding effort are ABLP supporters? A Freudian admission?
We are at a loss.  The government has said that the treasury cannot continue to support a bloated Council payroll for unproductive staff and that Barbudans must return to clean-up and stop being paid to do nothing.  For that, they seemed to have gained support from the average person.  Now Trevor Walker has decided to take a hard line on two issues that the ABLP has criticised, but instead of some silent support, there is a claim of possible political victimisation.   To be fair, Information Minister Melford Nicholas, has suggested that the decision falls in line with government’s stated position, but that makes Hurst’s statements even more bizarre.
This all seems to be a pretty easy situation to monitor.  If the litmus test for being axed is related to whether a person is there (in Barbuda) doing their part to rebuild, then they are either there or not.  If they want politically unbiased proof, then simply install a biometric time clock that would require the person to be there to clock-in and that would eliminate the chance of another person doing so for another.  A solution like that is cheap, easy to install and monitor and will remove any guesswork or arbitrary evaluation that could be swayed by political affiliation. 
Barbuda is facing a tough time and everyone really needs to make a concerted effort to try and eliminate as much of the divisive political rhetoric as possible.  Maybe the Chief of Staff can return to the public and explain his comments related to political victimisation and where he sees a link to Barbudans who are not willing to return and help with ABLP supporters.  This will help everyone understand a lot better.   

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