ALL AH WE IS ONE: Integrity Games
One of the positive, though unintended, consequences of the CLICO debacle is that it has deepened public appreciation of the need for integrity legislation in Barbados.
However, despite this, the treatment of the issue continues to cause concern.
First, cynicism appears to be the prevailing attitude. Only the bloggers and a few independent voices from academia seem interested. There is no voice within either the two dominant political parties in Barbados which has championed the cause as a lifetime project.
Indeed, the feeling among the public is that “none of them want it”, since its absence provides cover for future breaches when the electoral tables are turned.
Had it been otherwise, Barbados would have been way ahead of the rest in establishing the required legislative framework.
This cynicism has been clearly on show in the electoral campaigns of Barbados’ two dominant political parties.
In the 2008 election, a major plank of the then opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was the promise of long-overdue integrity legislation. Coming from a party that had been out of government for 15 years and which was free of the taint of public corruption, the DLP’s call for integrity legislation appeared both fresh and sincere.
Genuine sincerity, however, would have meant the passing of integrity legislation with urgency, long before the natural dirt of office began to stick. The final year of a term is way too late, and now, with the CLICO mud now blowing off the fan, the advantage of pre-office innocence is lost.
Any moves to introduce integrity legislation at this late stage will only add to the cynicism and raise the accusation of political posturing in light of the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) current CLICO warpath.
However, the BLP’s own approach has not advanced the integrity cause. The BLP has now, in 2012, adopted what worked for the DLP in 2008, again minus the sincerity.
One of the defining moments of the last election was the media studio interview “walkout” by the then Minister of Tourism over a basic “integrity” question, which he found too intrusive.
Five years later, there is general support for more intrusive integrity measures with the ground unprepared, now that CLICO blood is in the water.
A more sincere approach would have involved a complete mea culpa for the tardiness and resistance to the integrity legislation and an honest demonstration of renewed belief in its necessity. In short, it should be more than a knee-jerk reaction to the CLICO moment.
In the final analysis, the progress on the passage and implementation of integrity legislation will be the work, not of the established political parties, but will come from the determined insistence of the people that it must become a natural part of our democratic make-up, as taken for granted as the vote itself.