Manning Ducks our Problems and Runs to Africa

By Stephen Kangal
February 02, 2007

Patrick ManningThose of us who stood as helpless and detached spectators agonising at the repressive regime of the late Forbes Burnham of Guyana will recall that whenever the late comrade Prime Minister faced challenges with his domestic policies his political exit strategy entailed embarking upon some African foreign policy and demarche geared to divert Guyanese attention from his failures and lack of credibility at home. That is in keeping with the diversionary theory that when in trouble at home rulers choose to transfer the focus abroad.

How else can I explain the current ill advised African safari undertaken by our own Prime Minister Manning, especially when his National Security Minister is in Jamaica? In the face of militant opposition at home to his aborted smelters, crime pandemic, gas-based, off-shore favourable industrialisation policy, squandermania on several fronts, demise of agriculture and the rising tide of discontent being expressed by civic society on his dictatorial unilateralism, he ducks these problems and runs to visit poor ancestral countries. These have no trade and economic significance for us.

Do we taxpayers have to foot the bill for this pathetic strategy designed to embellish his international standing to compensate for his below par performance domestically that leaves us hopelessly depressed and vulnerable to the criminal elements? Why must he travel with his press retinue far away to the OAU Summit in Addis Ababa to repeat ad nauseam boring and hackneyed pronouncements on unpopular and untenable domestic policies already known to and rejected by us? This stupidity must cease because Manning thinks that the Heads of the OAU are as foolish as he deceives himself into believing that we are.

The speech was directed at us – not the African leaders. Hence it is relayed to us natives in T&T by his image makers/spin doctors geared to telegraph that he has the backing and support of some African dictators including Museveni and Robert Mugabe. Manning must know we “overs” that nonsense.

These Africans will already be privy to his Chatham debacle from diplomatic reports sent to their respective headquarters since the Chatham protest received international media coverage. Mr. Manning is guilty of misleading the Africans and telling them about our high electricity consumption when their people light flambeux at nights and eke out a living from the arid land.

He cannot throw dust in their faces even though they will be diplomatically polite to him.

Why must Manning travel 7,000 miles to Addis Ababa to tell of his technical assistance to seven West African countries when that was announced in his Heads of Missions Conference address? Was he undiplomatically flaunting our wealth and our economic bonanza as a nabob to an assembly of leaders of poor struggling African countries who cannot afford to feed their people far less to establish missions in T&T merely to pander to ancestral connections. That does not make any sense to the poverty stricken Africans.

He should have told the Africans what they would have already known. That is to say that the little humble people of Chatham stood up for environmental conservation against mighty Alcoa and his regime and the Alcoa smelter is now a relic of our energy history. That Chatham protest provides the enduring inspiration and example that the people of T&T can offer to our African brothers against anti-populist, resource depleting industrial policies and creeping dictatorships.

4 Responses to “Manning Ducks our Problems and Runs to Africa”


  • The following is an extract from an Indian website:-

    “4. Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Planning and Development Dr. Lenny Saith visited
    India in February-March, 1994. Earlier in 1992, House Speaker, Ms. Occah Seapaul visited several Indian States on a semi-official tour. The Minister of Energy and Industries, Mr. Finbar Gangar visited India to participate in the Ninth International Energy Conference from 6-8 December, 1996 in Goa and again in October 1997 to identify areas of cooperation in the oil and petroleum sector.

    5. Prime Minister Basdeo Panday paid an official visit to India as the Chief Guest at our Republic Day celebrations from 24 January to 4 February 1997. The delegation led by him included Foreign Minister Ralph Maraj, Trade and Industry Minister Mervyn Assam and other senior officials, including a 53-member trade delegation, a 23 member cultural troupe and a contingent of media personnel”

    Would Mr Kangal describe the above as “ill-advised Indian safaris” and if not, why not, bearing in mind that they eventually gave rise to the whole “dog rice” debacle and othr ill-advised purchases from India such as the sugar mill that never worked?

  • Thank you, Mr. St. Hill. There is nothing like facts to confuse the biased.

  • I would not go so far as to say that these African countries have not trade or economical significance to Trinidad. The technical expertise that Manning is offering to the countries with large and mostly untapped oil reserves should benefit Trinidad – if done properly. By offering our expertise, we should be getting a foot in the door to assist in developing and benefiting from these emerging oil producers. Why should only the big English and American companies tap the world’s oil resources.

    I do agree with Mr. Kangal though that Manning talking at that summit was a sign of disrespect to Trinidadians – he appears to either 1. reneged on his word in SOME instances or 2. Lied to the African people.

  • When you dig enough you will always find that behind these kinds of attacks by Kangal, ethnic hypocrisy is rampant. So much so that it erases all consciousness from the minds of those ever ready to jump on the band wagon whenever anyone of African descent make an association with the mother land, that Indians do pretty much the same all the time without an uproar from African quarters. It is the most sure yardstick for measuring ethnic intolerance.

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