Saturday, April 13, 2024

OUR CARIBBEAN: Dr Estwick – man at war with himself

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IN A multi-party parliamentary democracy it is the norm for MPs and cabinet ministers to face criticisms, at times quite harsh, from political opponents, in addition to the occasional verbal swipes from their own party ranks. But it is a rarity for a senior cabinet minister and politician of long-standing to unwittingly convey to the public an unmistakable impression of being at war with himself/herself.
Sadly, Minister of Agricultur Dr David Estwick – previously a Minister of Economic Affairs and also, Health – has voluntarily trapped himself in the category of a politician seemingly at war with himself.
Thanks, I guess, to his recurring, puzzling passion to offer contradictory public statements about policies and programmes of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) of which he remains a high profile and controversial minister.
As a citizen of Guyana, I long ago became familiar with health experts’ responses to a so-called “foot-and-mouth” disease affecting cattle. From that development flowed the piquant, teasing rhetoric against politicians who are viewed as suffering from a “foot-in-mouth” problem whenever perceived to have fumbled or stumbled into making self-inflicting statements.
By his own current public utterances and posturings, Dr Estwick would have earned in Guyana the satirical blurb as a “foot-in-mouth” politician, with his public strident criticisms of the fiscal and economic policies of the current second-term DLP administration of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. Classical examples have already been brilliantly captured by the NATION’s very popular and respected cartoonist Guy O’Neil, with his hilarious “Willi Worm” character.
The ABC of party politics should have alerted Dr Estwick of the political consequences of his prepared media statement on January 29 when he waxed warm against his government – specifically on the economic challenges and social consequences facing the nation that, he felt, required better leadership. And most decidedly also involving the stewardship of Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
However, within four days later, on February 3, (as reported in the DAILY NATION with a telling photograph under the Page One banner headline Happy Dem, Dr Estwick was declaring at the home of his cabinet colleague and DLP’s general secretary Donville Inniss that, he had “no plans to quit”. Further, that he has “no problems with “Chris” (Sinckler); that he was “a Dem at heart and I am very comfortable” . . . . Such was the verbal gymnastics of a seasoned politician (or is he?) who had earlier vowed, without any known provocation, to break his silence on the economic future of Barbados, as it would be wrong for him, he said, to hold his tongue.
By this surprising intervention, Dr Estwick may well have already determined his own political future, in or out of government, at a time of deep uncertainties for Prime Minister Stuart’s administration and, of course, the nation of Barbados.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.

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