ALL AH WE IS ONE: Week of farce
Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. – Euripides
THE WEEK FOLLOWING the much-hyped press conference by Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler has provided ample evidence to support the contention that the gods often inflict madness upon those marked for destruction, as an act of divine mercy.
Whatever the explanation, it was a week when the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) appeared gripped by madness.
First, there was the press conference itself. Called immediately upon the firing of the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr DeLisle Worrell, it was expected that the firing would form the meat of the conference.
However, in self-induced denial, the minister offered hardly a passing glance at the issue. Significantly, Barbados suffered two downgrades by international credit ratings agencies in the very week following the Governor’s dismissal, with Moody’s explicitly citing the firing as an explanation for its downgrade.
Truth is the antidote for madness, but only for those capable of discernment. Far from acknowledging reality, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, in his response to the downgrades, played ostrich.
Following upon his earlier dismissal of the opinions of credit-rating agencies as fit only for the trash can, he insisted that Barbados should not rely on external assessors, and boasted that Barbados enjoyed a higher GDP per capita than China.
Often condemned for his silence, he appeared to mock his public in a week of crisis by resolving to make shorter speeches as his Lent sacrifice.
There was still more farce. The press conference was not only silent on Worrell’s firing, but its main revelation was the creation of an Economic Advisory Council with hints of the involvement of former Prime Minster Owen Arthur.
Several misguided people publicly salivated over Arthur’s “appointment”, although the council was never formed. Equally tragic was Arthur’s contorted explanation for the council’s stillbirth. Since his appointment had never been officially announced, it was as if he had hired and fired himself, from Stuart’s Government.
Finally, bringing the week of farce to a grand finale, was the performance of the DLP’s general secretary George Pilgrim. In a week when the most worrying economic reports were being released, the DLP saw it fit to push the lowly unelected general secretary to the fore.
Instead of encouraging his Government to respond in a serious way to the negative developments, Pilgrim sought instead to engage in empty partisan sabre rattling.
Clearly worried about the early stirrings of open anti-Government stances by ordinary citizens, Pilgrim accused the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) of “destroying Barbados” as a last desperate effort aimed at discouraging Barbadians from joining a march called by the BLP.
However, 10 000-plus marching citizens offered a sharp dose of reality, urging the Government to end its farcical denial. Only time will tell whether the madness will persist, or a destruction may be avoided.
•Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: [email protected]