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Wednesday, January 28, 2015


With less than 48 hours to go before Team Chastanet’s historic demonstration of hypocrisy disguised as a march for the poor, let’s take a peep into some of the looming dilemmas that he faces.

March for the poor

Team Chastanet's original reason to march was against the implementation of a "pass-through mechanism" recommended by the Eastern Caribbean Currency Authority (ECCB). However, between the "conception" and the "implementation" of the decision to march, the reason(s) has\have gone through a serious of uncommon and "anomalous permutations" to the point where the raison d'etre seemed to have crumbled under the weight of its own anomalies. The last permutation - true to the Chastanet idiosyncrasy masked in illogical clothing - is  disguised as a march for the poor! Who would have ever thought that the Chastanets would one day march in the HOT SUN for the poor?

A  shared emotional moment
Politics can be rationale

It would be a fallacy to assume that politics is not logically driven; indeed, the politics of President Obama, Ralph Gonzalves, Angela Merkel, Roosevelt Skerrit and (indeed) our very own Dr Kenny Anthony (among others) are primarily driven by logic!  But it is unequivocally clear that Team Chastanet’s brand of politics is more rooted in irrationality (and hypocrisy) than logic.

Dilemmas of Team Chastanet

Five (largely) rhetorical but fundamental questions therefore emerge:

Firstly, what drives a billionaire-politician whose family has a history of milking the poor in St. Lucia to take to the streets on their behalf?

Secondly, what drives that politician (who comes from the upper class and whose family owns a monopoly of the supermarket chain which has been strangling the poor with excessively high prices) to want to march for them?  

How are the Dilemmas impacting on Hermangild?
Thirdly, how would that politician reconcile his "march for the poor" with the unconscientious firing of 12 Soufriere tourism hostesses (who were poor and vulnerable) when he was Minister for Tourism? And by extension, is there any truth to the allegations of a conspiracy with hoteliers to lay off workers in the industry to give him a political advantage?

Fourthly, what is in Mr Chastanet’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) that suggest he ever supported the poor/vulnerable and the oppressed?

Fifthly, isn’t it “comical” that Mr Chastanet is marching against a 15% reduction in the price of fuel and a 35% government subsidy on the price of cooking gas but he remains absolutely silent on the rising price of items in the supermarkets? 

Obviously, each of the above questions presents serious dilemmas which Team Chastanet needs to resolve and reconcile with the march for the poor.

Split personality syndrome?

On hindsight, it would not be untenable to suggest that Dr Rigobert’s seeming “crocodile tears” during a UWP public meeting in Vieux Fort might well have represented either (1) an involuntary reaction to fatally gaping political and ideological holes that her leader continues to dig; or (2) an indication of the magnitude of the pain she feels inside with respect of the insurmountable nature of challenges posed by those dilemmas!

Team Chastanet’s political and ideological “split-personality” syndrome is apparently creating more problems than solving them.

Hail Mary . . .

In the above context, what is the President of the St. Lucia’s largest Trade Union doing in the midst of Team Chastanet? If Chastanet's intentions are dressed in irrationality and hypocrisy, then what about Mary's? Why is she calling on the rank and file membership of an organization "conceived and ruled by statute" and designed to be "politically-neutral" to join a political march? If that is not a cardinal sin against the professionalism and integrity of the civil service, then what is? Indeed, Mother Mary jumped into the "Chastanet paradigm" and in the process she has committed two cardinal sins: firstly, she has "exposed herself the elements"; and secondly, she has "officially" dragged the Civil Service into gutter politics!

Consequently, UWP Senator, Mary Isaac, has a very difficult tightrope to navigate:  on one side, she has to cope with the highly sophisticated and politically-neutral Civil Service terrain (of which she is President); on the opposite side, she has to deal with a disorganized UWP terrain (where she seats as a senator). How she balances herself between those two terrains has become a matter of much debate and controversy ever since she became a UWP senator. Two recent developments have summarized the gravity of dilemma she faces: On the one hand, her UWP colleagues (especially Guy Joseph) have shown a blatant lack faith in the professionalism and integrity of the civil servants who implement and oversee the pass-through mechanism used to compute the price of gas at the pumps. On the other hand, members of the CSA have filed a petition for her removal from the office of president. How does she contend with those two equally powerful but opposite developments?

Senator Isaac may have erroneously conflated the raison d'etre, agenda and "rules" of the UWP with those of the CSA; but she must understand that while in the UWP, Chastanet may be the Boss (and his decisions may be final),  in the public service, the membership is the Boss and it is it's "decisions that are final"!

In all her blissful simplicity, she will soon discover - that despite the euphoria and glory associated with her elevation to the Senate - that the simultaneous occupation of the two conflicting positions may very well turn out to be a very sharp double-edged sword waiting to execute her.  We are all eager to see how she reconciles the interest of the civil service with the interest of the UWP and be able to survive the execution.

Now that she has gone to the extreme to put her neck on the block by galvanizing support among the public servants to participate in the UWP March, the question is: has she thrown more fuel into an already raging conflagration of anger? In view of the "statutory neutrality" and "political heterogeneity" of the "noble" civil service she heads, is it a smart thing to seek to mobilise support for a political march? Will civil servants heed her call and rally around her or will her attempt to persuade public servant to participate in a political event bring more dissonance among their rank and file? Will her historical precedent have any ripple effects on the industrial relations climate in St. Lucia? How will the other public unions manage the interface with Mary Isaac as a UWP senator?

I would not be surprised if observers (like me and you) believe that Senator Mary may have contracted the virus of desperation endemic in Team Chastanet’s political paradigm. Just as Guy couldn't differentiate between the simple concepts of "average" and "estimate", Senator Isaac seems equally helpless in summoning her faculty of reason to enable her to demarcate the limits of the boundaries in the two conflicting terrains that she serves. While she has shown utter disrespect and mistrust for solidarity with the Trade Union Federation (TUF), she has plunged headlong into the UWP for their support and solidarity.

The crux

The crux of the matter remains: Will St. Lucians participate in a pseudo-march based on hypocrisy, lies and illogic? Why would any rational St. Lucian want to march against a most welcomed drop in the price of gas at the pump?  Why would any rational St. Lucian march against a measure which has brought much relief to them and in the days ahead will bring even more relief to them? Why would a nation of reason support such a nonsensical move designed to make a mockery of our Nobel laureate month?

In conclusion, I will always put country before self or party. I will stand up for the pass-through mechanism in the same way I stood up for VAT. Both have positive fiscal implications for the growth and development of my country. Moreover, I’m always prepared to make short-term sacrifices for the long-term good of my country, irrespective of the party political party in power.

I wish I could say the same for Mr Chastanet and Senator Mary Isaac!

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