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A Chink in the Armor

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
March 01, 2012

Whatever else Keith Rowley may not be doing, he has certainly put the fear of God, or is it Lord Rama, into the hearts of the members of the UNC-led Government. Surujrattan Rambachan, the Foreign Minister, says that Rowley's motion is "vexatious, frivolous and irrelevant." Yet the UNC has undertaken to conduct three public meetings to mobilize its base and every one of its twenty-nine members of parliarment are slated to speak on the motion. That does not seem to be the kind of response that one mounts against a vexatious, frivolous and irrelevant motion, but then there is always a disparity between what the UNC says and what it does.

To an outside observer, the anxiety the UNC has displayed suggests that although Kamla's defenses may not be completely broken they certainly are being besieged. Thus, it was left to Jack, the outsider, to warn that any motion of no confidence is a "serious matter" and remind the short-memoried UNC that "we did the same thing" previously.

One report suggests that Rowley would be "coming with bombshells," another that he will be speaking about jobs while an irresponsible PNM member has suggested that this vote of no confidence may be a collusion between Rowley and Persad-Bisserer. Towards what end, we do not know.

There is no need to venture into these speculative regions. Jobs is certainly an issue that goes to heart of our dilemma but it seems to me that the PNM would be better off if they stuck to a few fundamental issues: such as, how well has the government done in the area of crime; how well the government has done in terms of economy; how well has the government created a sense of confidence in our future and where exactly are they taking us?

Filipe Larrain, the finance minister of Chile in speaking of emerging economies has warned that the world economy is under threat. He has observed: "In spite of better news from some quarters, Europe is in clear recession that started in the second half of 2011, and the US economy will undergo a fiscal adjustment in excess of 3 per cent of output at the end of this year. China—along with much of the developing world—is in a decelerating phrase" (Financial Times, February 28, 2012).

In Trinidad and Tobago, between 2003 and 2009 the economy grew roughly by 6 per cent annually, with a negative growth rate of 3.3 in 2009. In 2010, the country experienced no growth whereas in 2011 the economy declined by 1.4 per cent. Although unemployment has remained at around 6.0 per cent, if growth does not pick up significantly there is a chance that this rate could rise soon.

Therefore, the challenge is not only to get economic activity going but to keep the economy on a sustainable growth part. This means we must start projecting in both the energy and non-energy sectors. Given this projection, what does the UNC intend to do to insure that we grow the economy over the next year.

As the economy drifts, so does the country. Nobody knows where we are going. Under the PNM, at least there was a 20-20 Vision. Under the UNC there is no vision at all. Which leads to the following questions: how does the UNC intend to rally the country; how does it intend to regenerate growth; and how does it intend to bind the country's wounds?

The UNC is a disintegrating party in which Hindus hold the sway. Neither Jack Warner, Prakash Ramadhar (COP); Ainsworth Jack (TOP) nor David Abdullah (MSJ) attended Sunday's meeting at Kamla's residence.

It seemed disingenuous for Rambachan to claim that the absence of these gentlemen "might have been due to the fact it was called at short notice" which can be interpreted to mean that their input was not important or they were left out the deliberations deliberately.

Jack Warner seemed to have placed his finger in sore of the worsening party. Asked if he would contest for the chairmanship of the party, he said he would only contest "if being there would promote Afro-Indo Unity within the UNC. If not, I will not be contesting. The UNC is supposed to be a multi-ethnic party?"

Has the UNC (and its coalition) come to this: a complete breakdown of inter-racial unity within the party which accounts for the absence of Warner, Ramadhar, Ainstworth Jack and Abdulah from the coalition's deliberations? And if inter-racial unity is absent, how far can the party be from breaking down?

Meanwhile, the PNM lives on and is even thriving. After some trying times, Rowley has found his footing and is beginning to play a steady, if not a masterful innings. After being demoralized a bit, the party faithful are returning to the fold and the general public has gotten the message. The UNC is incapable of ruling fairly, squarely, inspiringly and competently.

Twenty sixteen is a long way off, but even at this early date the signs are there for all to see. After the honeymoon, the test of real-life governance has begun and the evidence is clear: they have fallen short and are lost in the political kingdom. Kamla is not well; the cracks in their interracial unity are showing; and they have failed to inspire our citizens. The hope that we are in a better place today than we were yesterday is fading and desperation has began to set in.

I don't know what will happen on Friday but we are beginning to see the fear in UNC's eyes. The honeymoon has ended; the rightful heirs to power are ready to assume the mantle of leadership and there is panic in the place.

Today, all the faithful can say: Go Forth Keith; the party and the nation stand behind you. Put on the whole armor of God so that you will be able to stand against the wiles of the dissemblers.

UNC must know: They can only fool some of the people some of the time.

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