By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
August 20, 2013
One of the most laughable and incredulous moments in Trinidad and Tobago’s political history was the public yellow balloon, albeit ploy, by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that certain “councillors” at a national executive meeting of the United National Congress (UNC) urged her to postpone constitutionally-scheduled local government elections.
The fact of the matter is that at that meeting, these individuals were not de jure ‘councillors’ because all councillors in the country had already demitted office on 26 July 2013, period. Ergo, at that meeting, they were just former councillors as in private citizens, period.
The stark reality is that if private, powerless citizens have the ability, albeit power, to advise the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago on very serious constitutional issues, then, We the People need to look for the nearest crapaud to smoke our pipe.
The fact of the matter is that ever since the People’s Partnership (PP) government came to power on 24 May 2010, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has publicly insisted/repeated/promised that she would never ever postpone elections—local and/or general. In this crucial regard, We the People must therefore demand that the Prime Minister must not go back on her word, period.
Furthermore, according to the Constitution, local government elections must be held within ninety days after councillors demit office. That’s the law. In other words, local government elections must be held on or before 26 October 2013.
We the People must insist/demand that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar “serve the people, serve the people, serve the people” and get with the program as outlined in the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago— nothing more, nothing less.
In addition, it must be stated quite categorically and equivocally that no Prime Minister nor former councillors are above the Constitution of this land.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar must adhere not only to the letter of the Constitution but also and most importantly to her own words/solemn promise to We the People, period. And this must become true irrespective of the negative fallout effects of the historic political crushing/licking in Tobago on 21 January 2013 and regardless of ‘ah’ massive, ‘meen’ debacle in Chaguanas West on 29 July 2013.
These two events are totally immaterial/irrelevant/unconnected to the mandate of the Constitution and her own word in regard to the holding of local government elections, period.
The stark reality is that if Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar were to go down that slippery political slope and postpone the scheduled upcoming local government elections, then, the public reaction/outcry/ massive demonstrations throughout the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago will be too ghastly to contemplate.
In fact, these acerbic, putative explosive public protests will also make the events on 27 July 1990 look like a mild tea party—“Fuh real” Madam Prime Minister.
We the People must never allow any Prime Minister to tamper with the sacred Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. We the People must never allow any Prime Minister to threaten/erode democracy in this country. We the People must never allow any Prime Minister to violate the democratic constitutional process in this country.
The leadership of the UNC may choose to violate its own party’s constitution when it comes to the selection of candidates to contest local government elections but We the People must never allow any Prime Minister to violate the Constitution of this country when it comes to holding local government elections.
The PP government must realize that the electorate of today is not of the same genre of yesterday. The PP government must also realize that the electorate of today is more intelligent, more decisive,more probing, and more analytical, period. The electorate today clearly knows the difference between performance by a member of Parliament versus party loyalty. We the People of today cannot be fooled and/or taken for granted, period.
The PP government must realize that We the People of today are politically mature and savvy— “yesterday was yesterday, today is today”.
In the final analysis, the leadership of the PP government needs to heed the salient but apocalyptic admonition of this country’s first Prime Minister Dr. Eric E. Williams when he warned: “(A) government must be careful and never surround itself with advisors who having their own private agendas will whisper only the counsel and compliments that they chose.”
Word to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar via the paraphrasing of a famous, well-known adage: “Magnum Est (the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) Et Pravalebit.”
Shem Hotep (“I go in Peace”).
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.