Dr. Kwame Nantambu


Opposition in the Opposition

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
September 21, 2008

The futile attempt by the minority UNC-A Opposition to file and debate a "no-confidence motion" against the ruling majority PNM government on 12 September 2008, spoke volumes as to the myopic and political-electoral immaturity of these parliamentarians.

This motion was not only doomed from its very inception but, most significantly, the UNC-A also shamefully presented itself on a silver platter to the voting citizenry of TnT that it is not yet ready, equipped and experienced enough for prime-time governance.

The "no confidence motion" was a colossal exercise in futility and the UNC-A should be penalized/censored for willfully wasting the public's valuable TV time.

To all intent and purposes, it seems that the UNC-A is functioning under the outdated, archaic 1887 rule of thumb which postulated that, "The duty of an opposition is to propose nothing, to oppose everything and to turn out the government."

However, times and parliamentary thought processes have changed over the years and have now become more modernized. Ipso facto, the new role of the Opposition in government is elucidated by Dr. Don Brash, leader of the National Party of New Zealand (2007) as follows:
the Opposition represents an alternative government and is responsible for challenging the policies of the government and producing different policies where appropriate. There are occasions when the Opposition agrees with the government; if the solution proposed by the government has wide support and is soundly based, then, it's only natural for the Opposition to agree.
This updated parliamentary role of the Opposition was already corroborated by Member of Parliament for Lake Centre, Saskatchewan, Canada, John G. Diefenbaker (1949) thus:
The Opposition cannot oppose without reason. Its alternative policies must be responsible and practicable for it has a responsibility to the (President of the Republic of TnT) to provide the alternative government to the one in power.
The fact of the matter is that the UNC-A's motionless (14 for,19 against) motion brought to the fore the sad tragedy that there is no viable, responsible, effective alternative government to the ruling PNM. It is a rather sad tragedy not for the UNC-A, per se, but for the country as a whole. We the People want a loyal Opposition. We the People do not want a threatening, warlike, impotent and politically immature Opposition. The UNC-A must realize that the loyal Opposition has a duty and responsibility to represent We the People of this country in Parliament.

The UNC-A must also realize that if it continues with its failed obstructionist , cantankerous, belligerent, fatalistic parliamentary posture, it will be playing directly into the waiting hands and arms of the PNM. In this scenario, the majority of the voting citizens of TnT will continue "stepping up with" Patrick Manning and the PNM, while the UNC-A remains decked-out in the swaddling clothes of the "bad John" Opposition, ad infinitum.

Indeed, one clear example that the UNC-A is not yet ready for prime-time governance lies in the fact when the UNC was in government, it signed the document to esatabish the Caribbean Court of Justice(CCJ) but ironically, when it's role was relegated to that of Opposition, suddenly, it now refuses to support the very same CCJ legislation it previously sanctioned.

The UNC-A cannot have its "cake and eat it too"; it cannot have it both ways. Apparently, the UNC-A fails to comprehend that effective governance is not a football game. A critical issue to the country cannot be right in the day but wrong in the night.

The UNC-A must cease and desist from playing games with We the People. There is too much at stake. TnT is burning!

TRUTH BE TOLD: The UNC-A leadership must be cognizant of the apocalyptic adage that admonishes: "The evil that men do live on after them while their good is interned with their bones." In the specific case of the UNC-A, the parliamentary evil that its members committed on 12 September 2008, will live on after them for the next five years while whatever national good they would have done will be interned with their simplistic, puerile, unconscionable parliamentary "chupidness."

The UNC-A must decide whether it wants to be part of the solution to the intractable multi-faceted and multi-dimensional problems that are currently afflicting, impacting, affecting and hemorrhaging the sinews of TnT today or whether it wants to be seen, viewed, perceived and demoted as the ultimate problem.

In the final analysis, if the UNC-A continues its arrogance of electoral defeatism in Parliament, it will certainly be the moribund political corpse for the next five years and counting.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

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