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We do not envy our Firefighter in Chief. His is a recurring and tiresome task – that of putting out the increasing fires in his smoldering administration. There he is, desperately trying to hold everything together, and yet some foolhardy comrade insists on playing with matches.  

Consider the case of the former Minister of Agriculture and present Minister of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy. This fellow has made a virtue of starting fires, much to the annoyance of the Fire Chief, and the deep disgust of the citizenry. If you recall, he was the one who completely mismanaged his administrative assignments before he was given a portfolio at the Ministry of Agriculture after the 2018 election. There, he promptly proceeded to outdo himself, completely bungling that critical Ministry, ticking off just about everybody.  Schoolchildren are suggesting that he is our lamest Minister of Agriculture of all time.

And they will certainly get no argument from our Fire Marshall in Chief on that score. He shared  that he’d had to caution the former Minister of Agriculture about his performance during his pathetic stint in that Ministry. He told him to shape up or risk being shipped out. The good Minister ignored his boss, blithely sneering at the admonition that he mend his ways. Anyway, notwithstanding the fact that he was “treading on thin ice,” (The Speaker of the House has also used that expression to him) the Minister malingered on presenting estimates for this year’s budget, and it left our Firefighter in Chief no choice but to unceremoniously relieve him of his duties at high noon in front of the many workers who’d had enough of his antics. Needless to say, there was much sustained applause on that happy occasion.

It appears that this Minister is an incorrigible arsonist. After his assignment to a new portfolio – The Ministry of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy, he proceeded to fan the flames of his foot-in-mouth-itis with a disastrous appearance on State media. The Minister rambled thusly, “The girl might be thirteen fourteen years old, have sex with a gentleman much older than her, maybe twice her age, but it is consensual, she consented. And the legal framework will be very harsh against the gentleman; so lots of times, it goes unreported because of that, and that is the reason why it goes unreported because it was consensual, and the penalty might be life imprisonment, it could be life imprisonment depending on . . . .” Say what?

As you can imagine, the citizenry was outraged at the Minister’s inartful way of making his point, never mind his exceedingly poor choice of words.  Where, and how, in the name of all that is good, can a monster who has sex with a thirteen or fourteen-year old be called a “gentleman?” How about a predator or a paedophile? And how can it ever be said that “it is consensual, she consented?” Since when can minors give consent? How about calling it “contributing to the delinquency of a minor?” Or “For unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor?” Or better yet, how about calling it what it is: “The rape of one who cannot legally give consent?” Sigh!

In the wake of the Minister’s blunder, a firefighter in the administration, presumably at the behest of the Fire Marshall in Chief, tried to douse the embers of widespread disgust by calling the Minister’s remarks, ironically uttered on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, a “slip of the tongue.” We call it a slip of the mind.

From the ebooks fiasco, to the insistence by the aforementioned firefighter that the administration is not interested in prosecuting those involved in shenanigans at the Customs, to the finger-pointing and the sordid allegations by erstwhile comrades in high places, to the recent resignation by yet another comrade in a high place, and idle talk about having $500M on hand to take us through this trying time, and so on and so forth, our Firefighter in Chief has his work cut out for him.  He is doing his darndest to douse the flames, and his lackeys are bent on fanning them. Seems, while the people are bawling, “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!” these lackeys are cluelessly telling the Firefighter in Chief, “Please don’t bring no water, let the (expletive) burn! Burn, baby, burn!” Good grief!

 It reminds us of Scar from the Broadway play and movie, THE LION KING, who once declared in exasperation, “I am surrounded by idiots!” And yes, it also reminds us of the question once asked by Casey Stengel, the manager of the 1962 Mets, who once exclaimed in frustration at his team’s spectacular ineptitude, “Can’t anyone here play this game?”

 It is a question being asked by the sorely disappointed people of Antigua and Barbuda. No wonder we’re singing Calypso Rose’s FIRE FIRE: “Fire, fire in arwe wire wire, eye eye yeye, oiy, yo yo / Fire, fire, ven aqui papito, danos mucho agua, heat for so!” Heat indeed! It is getting warm up in here!

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