Features — 05 December 2018
Bare facts about leadership

The fact is that as you climb the rungs of leadership there is greater responsibility and there is greater reward. Every job is important. The henkindola man (man in the hiking straps) on a little racing sail boat is at the bottom tier on the boat. All he has to do is lean to windward when the boat heels. Of course, as in all jobs, some are better at it than others. If the henkindola man is a clumsy ox and he loses his balance and crashes into the mast just as a strong gust fills the sails of the little racing sailboat, over goes the boat and it’s out of the race.

Yes, all jobs are important. But some jobs demand more, are more important. It is basic that more is demanded from people who perform jobs that demand more. Hence, there is more need for scrutiny, criticism of people who are performing these jobs. The higher monki climb, the greater the fall if he should slip. The fact is that when leaders at the top of the pack fall, fail to execute the job properly, or teef, the people who put them there, pay.

At every level, people in leadership positions must be under scrutiny, microscope-type scrutiny. This is especially for people in paid positions. But it applies to leaders who are not paid in dollars too. Payment, if you hadn’t noticed, comes in many forms. I could make a list here, but all you have to do is think on all the things that money can buy and know that they can all be gotten for a favor.

Last political days of a leader who hated(s) democracy

The book on Dean Barrow’s political life is fast closing, and since he has said that he isn’t concerned about his legacy, I will call it his political epitaph. More than anything else that epitaph is that he hated democracy even more than George Price did.

The people who measure things in light years live by the maxim, if man can conceive it, man can achieve it, but they and every sane person know that there’ll never be teleportation in this realm, and we’ll never turn back time¯unless you’re an archaic politician. Ah, democracy was coming along nicely, AFTER George Price, and then Barrow came along and gave that hopeful system an even worse turn than his hero, Price, had. The opening line on the political epitaph for 2008-2020 will read: His reign was definitely not the age of democracy.

Nobody is all bad. Barrow has his achievements. Winning three consecutive elections isn’t one of them. Popularity can’t be described as an achievement. The Barrow governments tried to rein in corruption at the Immigration Department. Some say, not hard enough. He got back our essential utilities, namely the BEL and BTL. Some say he could have, should have, got back the BTL at a far better price.

There are his betrayals. The Amandala organization put its business on the line to help restore order at BTL. The Barrow government turned around and stopped BTL from doing business with their media. The 13th senator is, arguably, Barrow’s greatest betrayal. He had to be forced, dragged kicking and screaming by the BNTU, to do it. After he did, he literally bought the church senator, which effectively suffocated all hopes of the senate being a check on his government. Okay, I can’t say “literally.” But there was a promise, a groundbreaking too, I think, for a church at the KHMH.

For reason or reasons he didn’t share, he decided to hang on to the reins in his party, when he had promised to leave early. If the epitaph writer is kind, they will say, on that turnabout, that he simply decided to not thrust greatness on either Patrick Faber or John Saldivar.  If the epitaph writer is mischievous, they will say he decided to not foist either upon his people. If either of those fellows would be king, they would have to lead the ship, on their own steam, to glory.

It will never be said of Barrow that he is all faults. The worst of those (faults of his), sin duda, is thwarting democracy. It is for that, that the followers of the Father of Democracy, PSW Goldson, will nail him to the cross.

It is the highest irony that Barrow is not a PUP. Barrow, it is clear, idolized Price and his peaceful, constructive revolution that tolerated no dissent. If anyone doubts that, just look at what he has done to democracy.  He cannot point to ONE meaningful bit of reform to enhance the process, after ten long years in government.

Why the British have church in their parliament

When the PUP 1998-2003 struck a blow for democracy, with the improved senate, a seat was given to a representative of the church. This didn’t increase the power of the senate. It still had no meaningful power beyond criticizing what had come from the House of Representatives, and delaying certain types of bills. The senate with expanded membership was a step in the right direction, but on the ground all it did was allow for greater discourse. More concerned parties, including the church, gained the chambers of the senate to air their views on decisions made in the House of Representatives by party political leaders.

The inclusion of the church came straight out of the parliament in England. The reason church people have prominence in the politics of England (not so much anymore) has to do with the evolution of that country. To a great extent, politics and religion were one. Yap, when the PUP included the church in the reformed senate, it really was copycat business.

This bit is taken from Wikipedia: The British parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign (the Queen-in-Parliament), an upper house (but in fact the second chamber) called the House of Lords, and a so-called “lower house” (but in fact the primary chamber) called the House of Commons.

The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual, consisting of the most senior bishops of the Church of England…The Lords Spiritual are 26 bishops in the established Church of England… The House of Lords scrutinises bills that have been approved by the House of Commons. It regularly reviews and amends Bills from the Commons. While it is unable to prevent Bills passing into law, except in certain limited circumstances, it can delay Bills and force the Commons to reconsider their decisions.

Belizeans clamored for a senate with a little more power

The Said Musa government (1998-2003) made some improvements to the Senate that fell in the realm of “knocks nothing to hell.” But in a country where the party in power has made it policy to undermine the “check and balance” by giving ministerial status to all area representatives, the people demanded more from the senate.

It appeared that the PUP putting an elected senate in their 2008 manifesto, and getting it on the ballot, was a reach for a straw to clutch on. Thinking back, they might have believed in the elected senate. Said Musa is nowhere near as autocratic as his successor.  The real is that the PUP 2008 just didn’t have the collateral to ask for anything, besides maybe being ushered out of office with un-bangled wrists.

The UDP, a party which we didn’t know was so terrified of democracy, seized the moment with a promise of a 13th senator. With great fanfare, the Barrow hopefuls announced that they would give us this 13th senator if we gave them control of the House of Representatives.

I don’t recall if the announcement came amidst flashing bulbs and balloons falling from the skies (the UDP under Barrow likes a little theater), but the array of prizes that would follow a UDP vote, did.

There was the promise of transparency and accountability, this time so that no political party could ever raid our pantry as the PUP 1998-2003 had done. If I recall correctly, Said Musa had promised that same thing, in 2003, this after he had allowed Ralph Fonseca and Glenn Godfrey to run wild with retirement plans for the boys.

The people realized that they had to stay more on top of what was going on in the shade in government. Kremandala has, more than any other organization in this country, sacrificed for press freedom and freedom of speech.  Thanks to the efforts of that organization, and others, we have a pretty good idea of what goes on in Belize. But much of what goes on under the table, in dark places, still remains obscured from the Belizean people.

Thanks to the freedom fighters, our governments were forced to give us the Freedom of Information Act, a law which is supposed to help researchers unearth information about government business, for the Belizean people. The Senate has an important function in the plot.

You know this story has a repressive ending. So I best end off here for the day.

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Deshawn Swasey

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