On Monday April 25th 2017, the government of Dominica called for and sponsored a public forum where participants came and discussed the economic prospects for Dominica with consideration for the Citizenship by Investment program. The reserved seats for the elected members of the House of Assembly in the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) remained empty. The era of boycotting important national events is still very much alive. The public outcry over the opposition (UWP) not attending Monday’s consultation on the country’s economic development has led it to issue a press which I thought was expected to pass as a statesman like explanation for the UWP’s refusal to attend such an important national activity.
Of course they expressed their wish that the activity should have had their way on how the information is brought out to the public. Government’s way is not good enough. But what can government do or say about the CBI that will please the opposition? The governance of the country has to be their way or take the highway. They described the activity as a sham; a public relations activity for PM Skerrit. They not only forgot that the organizers of the activity are consummate professionals, and also importantly, seem to forget that many of the participants at Monday’s activity saw more than blue partisan politics. The saw a nation struggling with limited resources for its sustainable development. A nation requiring the collective goodwill of all its citizens, across every sector of society. We salute the participants.
In our system of democracy, the opposition will have its say as it must. But government will always have its way. That was so during the period 1995-2000 when the UWP led Dominica with a paltry 40% of the popular vote. It was so before them when Eugenia “Mamo” Charles ruled with 11 seats and it will continue to be so until the fundamentals of our system of governance is changed. When?
Let the record show that the UWP has a catalogue of only negatives about Dominica’s Economic Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI). In the first quarter of this year, the government of Dominica has spent an incredible amount of time, resources and energy dealing with the fall out of a ceaseless campaign by the Opposition against the CBI. It started on January 1st 2017 with that now infamous appearance of Dominica’s Leader of the Opposition on CBS News 60 Minutes. Dominica knows what he said and did not say. No need to recap. Following the program he said he was properly quoted. In that campaign, which is fueled largely by paid foreign agents, (an ex-convict, right wing demagogues and a somewhat not so clandestine paymaster out of Europe) the UWP has portrayed Dominica’s CBI as the most corrupt of all CBI programs anywhere. The program has been described in the most scandalous ways. Without any evidence in support of their charges, the Dominican people has been served with a daily dose of unfounded allegations, fake news, alternative news and downright lies and “feel good opposing Skerrit by any means” assumptions about the program. No matter what explanation government gives, the UWP and its paid handlers, more economic assassins have spun the issue to satisfy their selfish partisan interests. The latest of such allegations suggests the issuance of 1,000 blank Dominican passports and forms to the Moroccan Ambassador to Dominica. These passports authorized by PM Skerrit, according to the haters of Dominica were to be sold to Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe. The implied story is that as much as 2,000 of these blank Dominican passports were sold to ISIS and Al Quaeda operatives fleeing to Europe among the Syrian masses. Take a deep breath. You would have thought that by now some Border Police in Europe would have intercepted one of these in the possession of a Syrian born native – an Al Quaeda or ISIS operative. Because it is wholly a false document and not properly issued. But no! That is such a salacious story, evidence does not matter.
The UWP has not disassociated itself with this “made in hell” fake news. In fact a senior member of the parliamentary team was heard to give support to the story. Since then the opposition controlled radio station has featured numerous hours of sponsored radio time spewing this rather obscene description of Dominica’s CBI. No matter how much an explanation is given about the how the passports are produced, stored and secured and later issued is given. The UWP and its foreign agents are not impressed and so the attack on the integrity of the system continues unabated.
At Monday’s National Consultation on Economic Development in Dominica, the system of how the CBI is managed was again presented. That was done by an outstanding and dedicated Public Officer. Outside of what is clearly crass partisan considerations, not even the greatest critic of the program (UWP) could fault the goodly lady’s presentation on the basis of fact and figures. She was calculated, clear and unambiguous. She was actually retelling a story that has already been told. But this time with a degree of urgency.
Of course the Leader of the Opposition would not settle for asking a question or raise an issue like so many others did at the forum. He maybe wanted the same amount of time as the Prime minister to spew more allegations and fake news. Maybe he wanted to disassociate himself and his party with the 10,000 blank passports scandals. May be he had the evidence and would fan the story further. We do not know.
So the Opposition has again boycotted another important national activity. They have done so with impunity. We are now hearing that they wanted to discuss the CBI on the streets of Roseau in a “Protest March” and later a seven (7) hours long meeting outside the seat of government. For them nowhere else will do. The glass window panels of the Financial Centre, seemingly is too good a target to ignore. Somebody call that arrogance. It’s either my way or no way at all.