Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Exposing Panday's arrogance of power
Posted: February 23, 2002
An analysis by
Dr. Kwame Nantambu

One of the most disgraceful and arrogant public actions by a TnT elected official was the overt rejection of the instrument of appointment as leader of the Opposition by Basdeo Panday. This reaction by Panday to President Robinson's constitutional action should warn the citizens of TnT as to the very nature of dictatorship that runs in the blood of the UNC leader.

His reaction is a water shed of monocracy and political hypocrisy in TnT. Indeed, the only goal or objective of Basdeo Panday is to amass political power for his own personal aggrandizement.

Panday couldn't care less about the people, the country nor sincere governance in TnT. His massive ego and propensity for power and control are paramount.

The fact of the matter is that his glowing exercise of the arrogance of power has compelled him to convene his own 'shadow cabinet' and to refuse to attend the inaugural meeting of Parliament as leader of the Opposition. This is the arrogance of power at its zenith. Whether he likes it or not, Basdeo Panday is not the Prime-Minister of TnT.

That's one title he must never have again. He may rant and rage at the Centre of Excellence but he will never occupy the seat of power in Whitehall. Never, never again.

In this new millennium, TnT does not need nor should support such a public figure of the elk of Basdeo Panday. His reactions have brought 'shame and disgrace' to TnT's political face. TnT citizens should relegate the UNC party politics to the garbage can. Basdeo Panday can only talk about national unity B he will and can never walk the talk; it is not in his bones. Only the acquisition of political power runs in his veins.

The fact that he vows never to surrender speaks volumes as to Panday's real motives after 24 December 2001. Panday and his UNC supporters are behaving like wounded lions who are on the prowl looking for blood. They must be stopped by the citizens of TnT.

The citizens of TnT must assert their rights as a solid democratic society and not allow this runaway freight train called Basdeo Panday to mash up our cherished democratic system.

Everyone knows Panday's name and his game, namely power, power and more power. Nothing more, nothing less. However, Prime Minister Patrick Manning and conscious Trinis should be aware of Panday's game-plan or congame. There is an old saying that the threat of force is more potent than the actual use of force. And this is exactly Panday's congame.

In other words, Panday is engaging in psychological war fare. His is playing a mind game on the Prime Minister and the people. His congame is not rocket science. On the contrary, it is very simple. The fact of the matter is that Panday conned or tricked Manning into calling snap elections in 1995 to his utter detriment; now Panday is hoping that Manning would repeat history and snap again in 2002.

This is all a slick congame orchestrated by Panday and his cronies. The fact of the matter is that Panday and the UNC are making all these public threats against the government precisely and solely because they are afraid that some of them will be going off to prison. It is just that simple.

They know who they are and they know their true but yet uncovered aspects or misbehaviour where corruption and thievery are concerned. They are scared. And that's the primary reason why the former AG publicly stated that Panday was 'the only person President Arthur NR Robinson should appoint Prime Minister.'

She also stated that 'after having done extensive research on the subject, she was of the firm and clear view' that Panday was the obvious choice for Prime Minister.'

Of course, if this writer was in her shoes, he would also vigorously defend Panday to be the next PM. The fact is that Kamla Persad-Bissessar is not the only person in TnT who can conduct extensive legal research. Again, this is a scared tactic on her part. Moreover, Prime Minister Manning should ignore criticism from the UNC on the appointment of his wife Hazel as the Minister of Education.

These critics should follow recent international political events whereby the President of war-torn, riot-infested and chaotic Argentina, Dr. Eduardo A. Duhalde, appointed his wife, Hilda Beatrice, as the country's Minister of Social Development.

My advice to the 'Madam Minister' is to stay focused on educating the young people of TnT; keep manning the Ministry because your jealous, 'sour grapes' detractors are doing absolutely nothing B they are just 'peeping.'

The UNC is afraid of the Commissions of Enquiry that the Manning administration has already established. The UNC is afraid that in a very short period of time, a few heads will roll beginning with 'arrests soon in airport probe.'

It is no small wonder some in the UNC are behaving like suspects. They are seeing prison time in front of them. They do not want to be known in history as ex-cons.

It is the hanging threat of a possible jail sentence that is fueling the knee-jerk reactions of the supporters of Panday and the UNC. That is all this is about. They know that when the time comes to rumble, Lindquist and others will expose their tracks of corruption and thievery. They know that under the Manning admisistration, their time is up. And that's why they have to do everything in their power in an attempt to discredit the PNM government.

But they fail to understand that they have done for too much while in government; now their actions are just an exercise in futility. The UNC supporters know that if Panday was Prime Minister then he would have shielded them. Now, they are standing stark naked before the Courts of Justice for crimes against the people. It is no small wonder also that the UNC is calling for quick elections.

The party knows that the electoral list of voters is defective to say the least. The UNC party knows that an official of the EBC has already defied 'his oath of secrecy to condemn the electoral process conducted during December 10 general elections.' The electoral process was perverted.

The UNC party knows that the Manning government intends to launch an enquiry into the modus operandi of the EBC. The UNC supporters are afraid that illegalities may surface from this probe even implicating the top party leadership. The call for quick elections by the UNC is a congame. The electoral list of voters is nothing but a marked deck of cards. Indeed, it would be the heights of stupidity, insanity and dumbness if PM Manning falls for this UNC trick.

The UNC wants to jump the gun by calling for a return to the polls now. PM Patrick Manning must inform the public that there will be no general elections in TnT until there has been an in-depth and complete Commission of Enquiry into the EBC and a correct, revised and updated voters' list has been published so as to assure that every Trini who is eligible to vote will see his/her name on the list.

These are the only two criteria for calling the next general elections. Manning must make sure that the political-electoral process is free, fair and democratic in TnT. It has been tainted, compromised, skewed and undemocratic under the previous UNC government.

Contrary to Panday's assertion, the issue is not elections now but the re-introduction of morality, decency and trust in TnT's governance. The issue is to rid TnT political life of open, unchecked and unbridled corruption, deceit and thievery.

The real issue is not to convene 'shadow cabinets' but to re-constitute the democratic process. The issue is not to declare 'war' because you have lost the reigns of government but to work together to strengthen the system of government. The real issue in TnT now is the formation of a government for the People, by the People and of the People.

The UNC does not adhere to these concepts. PM Patrick Manning must let all the threats of legal action, boycott of Parliament and 'alternative government' by the Panday gang fall off his back like a duck. The PNM government must have the fortitude to function on behalf of the people even without the participation of the UNC opposition.

And even if Panday and the UNC decide to 'block the convening of Parliament' then the PNM administration must resort to rule by the Doctrine of Necessity and executive fiat. Trinis must realise that this arrogant show of power by Panday only proves that he is totally unfit to be the Prime Minister of TnT.

It also proves to the people that Panday will violate, abrogate and negate the constitution for political gains. It proves that Panday will use politricks and attempt to fool all of the people some of the time in order to gain power. This is the sum total of the aftermath of the 24 December 2001 Presidential decision.

Panday and his fellow UNC supporters have finally realised that 'the chickens have come home to roost.' The string is now being pulled very hard and strong around their necks and it is just a matter of time before many of them expire from TnT's political life.

They know that they can run but they cannot hide from the PNM's criminal investigative Commissions of Enquiry into malfessance, 'misbehaviour in public office', massive corruption cum thievery and possible electoral fraud.

The writing is on the wall for Panday and his supporters, including former ministers and political appointees. Basdeo Panday must understand very clearly that no amount of grand-standing, wanton bluffing, vile threats and arrogant display of power is neither above nor superior to the rule of law in TnT. Proven, unabashed and zealous political predators deserve no place or part in the democratic governance of TnT.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Nantambu is an Associate Professor, Dept. of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, U.S.A.

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