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Posted: Wednesday 20 April, 2022 at 2:10 PM

Country; Party; Self

By: Coreentje Phipps, Commentary

    I back pedaled a little to get here. I had to! After all,  like many others, I wrote incessantly for months about the highly lauded shift in our nation’s political landscape that scores of nationals believed was necessary if our independent twin-island nation was to realize its fullest potential. 

     

    A diverse, vibrant, and expectant pool of people, young and old alike, unreservedly promoted the ushering of a new political dispensation in the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and with keen excitement, Team Unity was born!
     
    This tripartite alliance comprising the People's Labour Party (PLP), the People's Action Movement (PAM) and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), was the hallmark of change, representing a marked shift away from a culture of “love of self” to one that would more closely align with our nation’s motto, “country above self.” The incumbent St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party government began to pay attention.
     
    A slew of hot button issues loomed in the public domain then, including the much-debated land for debt swap, our nation’s good governance agenda, integrity in public life, constitutional reform, VAT, explosive relationships between senior government officials, the escalation of criminal activity and gang violence, homicides, the Basseterre High School saga, concerns about the SIDF, and the stalling tactics relevant to the Motion of No Confidence. Many believed our politicians and government had lost their way and change was deemed inevitable! The electorate was poised to deal a political blow to the sitting government.
     
    The political climate was tense as the build-up to the 2015 general elections became imminent. Many citizens marveled at the ability of three political parties to coalesce to form a government prior to a general election. Despite the maze of conflicting views and growing uncertainty, guided by their words-espoused throughout the election campaign and memorialized in the Charlestown Accord-by February 2015, change came to Church Street, Basseterre. Hope and promise tugged at the heartstrings of a people eager for fundamental change.
     
    Alas, after some seven short years, our nation has found itself at the epicenter of an unprecedented political firestorm that has sullied the very foundation on which Team Unity was built. Only two years ago, millions of people succumbed to the wrath of the Covid-19, leaving behind all of their earthly possessions. Not one of the casualties of Covid took their designer clothes, expensive cars, or highly prized treasures with them. Material wealth, like human existence, is but temporary. Death is final but our legacy, our name and our honor are forever.
     
    Why isn’t honor the overarching principle to help our leaders navigate their way out of the current stalemate our nation faces? Honor for our good name of St. Kitts and Nevis, honor for our good flag and the woman who designed it, honor for our good motto, our  masterfully produced national anthem, and the man who penned it? Honor for our people; for our country?
     
    An array of perspectives have been proffered as to why Team Unity partners continue to exist while openly at odds. Maybe those answers lie with our leaders and possibly those who advise them, but their public disdain does beg the question, how do we even go forward as a nation in what appears to be “Disunity?” 
     
    Further, how does the electorate restore confidence in Unity, the very alternative acclaimed to be the best solution to the decay in the social and political fabric of our nation from which many disassociated themselves in the lead up to the historical 2015 general elections?
     
    This watershed moment begs us to understand that while there is no perfect political system, planting seeds of rancor and divisiveness will only prove detrimental to all of our citizens. While it is commendable to have a leader who reminds of his ability to take our nation through the challenges of the Covid-19, finds creative ways to implement protocols to keep nationals safe, and even lauds his ability to pay double salary, if he stands alone in his accomplishments, where is the team? It is disheartening that a paradigm meant to bring our nation together has so deeply divided our leaders and our people. 
     
    There are still key aspects of the Team Unity agenda that have yet to be addressed beyond the Citizen by Investment (CBI) program and term limits for the sitting Prime Minister, such as integrity in public life, good governance, health care, sustainable crime initiatives, the Basseterre High School and constitutional reform just to name a few. Can our leaders overcome this damning political hurdle and will our people entrust their confidence in the tripartite alliance?
     
    When the true pulse of our nation is assessed, fair-minded citizens of our land will reject a culture where one group of people greedily “feeds” while another set hopelessly “starves.” As a small island developing nation, that style of politics does not reflect a progressive nation but rather, a nation fractured; one that works for some and not for all; one that impairs us from collectively attaining our fullest potential.
     
    We are better than leaders belting out the phrase,  “When my party wins, my soldiers win too.”
     
    We are better than a nation of beggars, water carriers, or blind supporters subject to living hand to mouth because  their party politics is “wrong.”
     
    We are better than a nation of leaders throwing political punches in public knowing that such actions only create a state of discord among supporters and fodder for opponents.
     
    We are better than a nation where our leaders dishonor their words and doubly dishonor their deeds.
     
    Service to one's country is an honor! We, the descendants of slaves who fought tirelesssly so our people would enjoy the spoils of their labor, ought not suffer because we share opposing political views. 

     

    Almost 40 years as an independent nation, and despite our symbols of independence, vestiges of our colonial past still permeate our society; haunting us; holding us back. 

     

    Whatever becomes of this current political fiasco, one truth prevails; it is the people, not the politicians who hold the power. When politicians lose sight of their duty to serve, it is always the power of the people that dictates their fate and the fate of our nation.
     
    Country; Party; Self?
     
    Ultimately, the people WILL decide!!

     


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