Dominica Beware

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Herbert Volney

Dear Sir:

The recent overwhelming victory of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) in the December 6, general elections leaves the Dominica people with the increased responsibility to be both vigilant against abuse of power and constructively supportive of government measures consistent with the party’s manifesto.

The opposition is weak in both numbers and intellect. It is left to be seen who the opposition will nominate as its senators. If the final opposition lineup in the parliament is not enhanced in intellectual content, it will be business as usual in the House of Assembly.

One of the lessons I’ve learned as an elected member of parliament in the Trinidad and Tobago House of Representatives is that the opposition will have its say while the government will have its way. The electors put the government in place to administer the affairs of Dominica. This, the opposition must accept. If measures put forward by the government are met with sensible opposition, suggestions for betterment, the people will benefit; for a wise government will invariably reconsider in the national interest and enact good laws. If it does not, then ultimately the people will cast judgment on it and respond at the next poll.

Loyalty is to the Constitution and the Commonwealth of Dominica. No party in government will survive the abuse of power inclusive of corrupt practices if the opposition functions as it should.

Over the last few years, there have been many largely unsupported-allegations against the Roosevelt Skerrit administration. If these allegations were factually founded and effectively canvassed by a trusted and trustworthy leadership in opposition, the margin of the victory, or the result itself, would likely not have been the same.

Activists on each side now have a grave responsibility of oversight over the activities of government and governance in the next five years. Much as I’ve supported prime minister Skerrit and the labour party for its big win, as a mighty political force we exist as well to turn as quickly as we can say ‘Solomon Wholay’.

This is the force out there in the midst who have had no sense of entitlement but who have supported the government for its great work in taking Dominica out of wholesome destruction two years ago and restoring it on a stronger and more resilient basis.

Among this group are persons with no fealty for prime minister Skerrit or the labour party but who gave his wife (Melissa Poponne-Skerrit) the 250 votes that they withheld in past elections. Without their support Roseau would’ve remained with the United Workers Party (UWP). She was the better candidate by far and her work with the poor, the old and the needy earned her this great victory.

It was more a Melissa Poponne-Skerrit victory as a home grown girl, than a labour party victory. So too in Mahaut, a Rayburn Blackmoore Victory; a teacher Bonnie victory in Castle Bruce; and a Greta Roberts victory in Grand Fond. If the people had labour-washed the UWP in these constituencies the margins would’ve been horrific. But they were not, and the ruling party cannot assume that the 18/3 margin was of Boris Johnson/Brexit proportions.

The leadership of the party in government must take heed and must be responsive to perceptions of corruption especially in the citizenship by investment (CBI) program where there remains disquiet after the recent Al Jazeera series.

A healthy democracy is what we have in Dominica for we have free and fair elections. But the existence of strong opposition in and out of the Legislature is a prerequisite of a model democracy.

The House of Assembly opposition leadership is weak and so long as it remains the face of those opposed to the ruling party will be there just to run out the clock. Dominica can do better. It will be for Dominicans to be a check on the government to ensure that there is no abuse of power.

Herbert Volney

 

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