Manufacturing Dictators

By Raffique Shah
March 06, 2023

Raffique ShahThe dizzying pace at which politicians who have promoted themselves as contenders for top positions in government, see things fall apart around them, is an ominous collapse of a political system that seems to have been built to secure the ruling elites. The relics of a post-colonial era that guaranteed the grandchildren of the favoured ones is being battered every-which-way leaving many of them who now hold strategic positions in governments, unsure of their future, and quite likely afraid of what tomorrow may bring.

If it’s not yesterday’s all-conquering Watson Duke, who kitted and outfitted himself for the highest office, watching with what must surely be horror, his Roxborough to Whitehall plan turn toxic, it’s unnamed top officials of both leading parties trying to escape a hornets nest of killer bees that are stinging them, exposing them in their nakedness for what they have always been, common pimps.

With the campaign for general elections in Trinidad looming large on a horizon that looks much closer than the two years stipulated, the inner party fights are becoming vicious – more like Brutus stabbing Caesar: it’s as if the bell has rung and every individual in each party has to seek his or her own survival, in which case, the leader cannot depend on the member for loyalty.

Alliances in both leading parties are strained to the point where no one knows whom to trust. Your best friend today could be your biggest enemy tomorrow. But then, that’s politics. It has always been so, from ancient times to modern Dynasties and now political parties that resemble the courts of Monarchs and dictators that dominated at least five hundred years of medieval global politics. In other words, structures that many boast of that ensure the perpetuity of at least the one-man-one-vote guaranteed supporters and citizens a morsel of democracy.

Watson Duke made no bones about his intents and his modus operandi from the moment he entered public life as leader of the Public Services Association. He is one of the very few to have openly confessed that he owned his party, The PDP. Hell, the man has deed and will and legal rights over the name and such other chattel as may fall under its ambit. Some political commentators and analysts spotted that glaring gap that all but erased any true democracy in Duke’s party. But that fundamental deficiency bothered not the man nor the thousands of Tobagonians who flocked around the new messiah. It also worked well for him in the sense that a significant percentage of the population which proclaims its adherence to the principles of democracy quickly but easily resorted to autocracy – the leader-cum-owner is the beginning and the end, the lord and the master of whatever slice of the political cake his party controls for however limited time, its supporters allow them to. Check every party and examine it closely and you tell me if its operations in or out of the government reflect democracy or autocracy. Theoretically, in democracy the people own the party and the majority will control its destiny. Practically, every party that has grown to be significant in the political affairs of Trinidad and Tobago has given its leader messiah status. Dr. Eric Williams emerged in that role shortly after he returned to Trinidad and Tobago as a political nobody, but riding a wave of anti-colonial hysteria, found a common enemy in the Crown which changed the party’s structure without anyone- supporters, financiers, even office holders being aware of their capitulation. PNM historians will tell you otherwise. I am prepared to debate them anywhere, anytime on this subject.

But the PNM were probably the least of the offenders since the main opposition party installed leaders who had more power in their organisations than Eric Williams ever had. Bhadase Maraj virtually carried around the People’s Democratic Party, the official opposition in 1956-1966. The democrats in the DLP tried to liberalise the party but failed: Bhadase did what he wanted, got what he wanted and the party remained autocratic.

Now Duke, to his credit, has declared himself an autocrat; he is the PDP and the PDP is he. His fanatical supporters who accepted this form of party structure supported everything he said and does. So when other elected members of the party in the THA attempted to discipline him, within a year of coming into power, the party all but imploded. Duke and a handful of his loyal servants stayed with him, while Farley Augustine and others learned the hard way that they were holding an empty paper bag. They did not have even the keys to the party office, Duke meanwhile established an impressive list of misdeeds that ranged from being a porn star to party clown who is under the scrutiny of several state agencies.

You see why our politics is taking us nowhere and doing it very quickly?

3 thoughts on “Manufacturing Dictators”

  1. Democracy is the vehicle to “elect” a dictator. A dictator does not care about the people, all he cares about is himself and power. As our current dictator said “ I am weaning people off the government”. Then proceed to create a slash and burn government with laptops gone leaving thousands of children without an education during the pandemic. The dictator manage to raise the next generation of duncy head children in one single act. Then to put a nail in the education coffin the one they carry around election time, he abandon school projects and in eight years credited for building one school and not completing several others.

    Trinis are feeling the effects of poor dictatorial governance by the alarming murder rate. For a few dollars illiterate young men have created a thriving profession called the “hitmen”. I demand they pay their fair share of taxes. The police is involved in a lot of nefarious activities, the former CoP nephew was involved in a hit on a former cop in Penal area. I am sure there are decent cops but if you put a black mark on a white outfit it ruins the outfit. Worst of all the solve ratio for murder is 13%.

    The PNM is nervous about the next election so the dictator is looking to lock up a few political opponents. It has worked well in past, don’t do nothing for the nation but tell them you can’t vote for these crooks. We all saw it with Sadiq Bash and how his relationship with Laventille won him many applause. Suddenly a bomb was found in his water tank. Destroy his reputation then smile as nothing was found for him to go to jail. Then there is the Ramlogan case with Nelson…well known former AG offered this man a strong inducement to pervert the course of Justice. But because he PNM nothing will come out of it because Maximum dictator controls all and sundry. The dictator came up with emailgate the latest is to blame the Israelis when the police in Trinidad did nothing to end this fiasco. The media running headline after headline on a non story. And for year the CoP Sat on his ar*e beholding to the dictator .

    The maximum dictator is aided and abetted by the 1% who controls the media houses and make him look good. Because he gives them huge contracts. If an Indian gets a contract the media sends a reporter to interrogate the contractor. They are greedy people. In many instance small business contractors has been denied contracts as the big conglomerate rake in millions in profit. The system works for them.

    The dictator has mastered the art of winning elections, putting his minions in charge of the EBC. From gerrymandering the boundaries to fixing the ballot and house padding. Taking up all media spots to fill the air with propaganda. His base gets to live on the high hog whilst others crave a piece of bread. Yes folks the skill of control and manipulation rules the day.

  2. “Now Duke, to his credit, has declared himself an autocrat; he is the PDP and the PDP is he.”
    Dukie is Comedy Central, the man seriously missed his calling to entertain the nation. But he is living up to it presently.
    If a man talks too much and believes he is right all the time he cannot be corrected. He makes unilateral decisions and so dictatorial tendencies emerge with I am in charge you better listen to me.

    Dukie being a labour leader for a long time and understanding how to play the media and play with media to get his message across, still continues with his shinnanigans in the political arena where it requires a high level of maturity, good advisors and willingness to compromise. Compromising in difficult situations has not been one of the strengths of Dukie, for years he muscled his way into getting what he wanted at the bargaining table.

    He and Farley worked hard to win the THA elections. Farley is a young leader and need space to grow. Dukie being the senior engaged in an unnecessary public spat with Farley trying to regain and posture himself as emporer of Tobago. His belligerent nature got the better of him. The emporer had no clothes. Politics and poly tricks are best suited for the tested and people centered individuals. Without an understanding of who put you their the culture of self with a highly inflated ego can destroy everything…

  3. The decline of TnT. (1) Highest unemployment rate since the 1980s. (2) Deficit over $135 billion with more loans the latest from the InterAmerican Development Bank. (3) Roads filled with potholes despite Trinidad having the pitchlake, (4) Point Lisas near closure decline of the energy hub. Latest victim workers at Atlantic LNG. (5) 50% of the school children made less than 50% in exams. Next generation of criminals. (6) Murder rate record breaking last year, heading in that direction this year. (7) Everything increasing and a slew of taxes ahead.

    Great is the PNM..

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