Editorial — 15 July 2008
The evidence continues to accumulate that Hon. Said Musa, while he was Prime Minister of Belize between 1998 and 2008, placed the interests of himself, his cronies and his political party above those of the Belizean people. Unless Mr. Musa was insane, then the incredible giveaways he signed off on to Lord Michael Ashcroft over a period of years, must have benefited himself, his cronies, or his party, and no doubt all three. It is for sure that these giveaways to Ashcroft hurt the Belizean people considerably. It is because of those giveaways that the masses of the Belizean people consider themselves to have been betrayed by Mr. Musa.
Mr. Musa began public life in late 1968 as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee For The Truth About Vietnam. In early 1969, he briefly joined the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), and then he and Assad Shoman formed the People’s Action Committee (PAC). In October of 1969, UBAD and PAC formed an alliance in the form of the Revolitical Action Movement(RAM), which collapsed in January of 1970.
UBAD immediately resumed its separate public life, but PAC began to fade away. It is not clear when exactly Shoman and Musa joined Premier George Price’s PUP, but it was in time to run as candidates in the 1974 general elections – Assad for Cayo North and Said for Fort George. In those elections, Assad lost to the late Joe Andrews, and Said lost to Dean Lindo, but the PUP retained power by a 12-6 majority in the 1974 general elections. That PUP majority became 13-5 when Toledo North’s Vicente Choco abandoned the Opposition UDP to join the ruling PUP.
In early 1977, Mr. Musa made a bold decision which no doubt had a major positive impact on his political career. He decided to invest $20,000 in a company which would print Amandala on modern offset equipment. At that point in time, Amandala was the struggling remnant of UBAD, which had been dissolved in late 1974. The publisher/editor of this newspaper, Evan X Hyde, was considered somewhat of a failed experiment at the time. An anti-PUP stalwart as UBAD president between 1970 and 1972, Hyde had been discarded by the new UDP in 1973. In early 1977, he was considered a loser, and the UDP was on a big time roll, widely expected to form the next government in 1979.
The company which Mr. Musa, as an attorney, formed and invested in, was called Cream Ltd. There is no doubt that the PUP, as a party, supported Musa’s venture, because various other PUP luminaries took up the remainder of the shares which Amandala permitted them. The PUP personalities, then, owned 50 percent of Cream Ltd. – $25,000 worth of shares in a company capitalized at $50,000. Evan X Hyde, his father and an aunt owned $20,200 worth of shares. ($4,800 worth of shares were left unsubscribed, and those unsubscribed shares became an issue involving the then Deputy Premier, C. L. B. Rogers, in early 1978, but that is another story for another time.)
Amandala had been struggling on outdated letter press printing equipment, unable to compete with the industry leader, the business-oriented REPORTER. The Musa cum PUP investment in 1977 made Amandala competitive. By the middle of 1981, the Partridge Street newspaper had become no.1, but Cream Ltd. had crashed by then, a casualty of the Heads of Agreement in March of that year.
Mr. Musa’s investment in support of Amandala helped him top the PUP polls in Belize City Council elections in December of 1977, and his increased credibility in the old capital contributed to his first great electoral victory – the stunning defeat of UDP Leader, Dean Lindo, in the 1979 general elections. Mr. Musa became Minister of Education and Sports in a new PUP government, which led Belize to independence in September of 1981.
Even though Cream Ltd. was shipwrecked on the reef of a confrontation between Amandala and the ruling PUP over the Heads of Agreement, the relationship between the Amandala publisher and the PUP politician never became a hostile one, until perhaps June of 1994. It seems clear now, however, that there was some point at which Said Musa became otherwise from what he had been, or from what he had appeared to be, in 1968 and 1969 and 1970. (Remember that when the Amandala publishers, Evan X Hyde and Ismail Shabazz, were tried in the Supreme Court in July 1970 on seditious conspiracy charges, they were defended, successfully and for free, by Said Musa and Assad Shoman.)
The purpose of this editorial is to recall, especially for the benefit of our younger readers, that there was this time in 1977 when the same Said Musa who betrayed Belize in the Ashcroft deals, made a decisive move which contributed to making this newspaper what it is today. We think and believe that Amandala in 2008 is much the same as it was philosophically in 1977. But all of us can see now that Said ain’t Said no more. Said, we hardly knew you.
Power to the people.