Friday, April 19, 2024



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THE ISSUES surrounding the judicially sanctioned forensic audit into the operations of CLICO hold profound implications for Barbadian politics.

Specifically, the role of the former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Prime Minister David Thompson, whose financial transactions have attracted significant scrutiny from the auditors, has legitimately politicised the CLICO issue.

In addition, the close association of CLICO’s former CEO Leroy Parris, a central figure of the forensic audit, with the ruling party has deepened the political dimension of the issue.

Indeed, when an earlier no-confidence motion was moved by Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley in the Government over its poor handling of the CLICO issue and the closeness of key Government figures to the CLICO bosses, the now sitting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart dismissively suggested that her motion should be punished with laughter.

What petty folly motivates politicians to declare their “friendship” with personalities who are political burdens? Note, in contrast, Obama’s ditching of Jeremiah Wright, who officiated at his wedding.

It has bemused many that key DLP figures would seize photo ops with Parris, and that he would occupy prominent seating positions at formal DLP gatherings. Perhaps, social identification with “new money” has proven a more compelling attraction to DLP “children of the working class” than any political considerations.

Significantly, this closeness of the DLP to the key personalities of CLICOgate has been flagged by June Fowler, the spokesperson for CLICO policyholders, who has raised doubts about the possibility of [proper resolution], due to political and personal entanglements.

Whilst there is no proof of political shenanigans in the Government’s response to the CLICO affair, the impulse to stay far and above reproach should have dictated a strict avoidance of key CLICO players.

It is for this reason that the place of MP Mara Thompson in the DLP Government has been problematised by CLICOgate.

Before the St John by-election I wrote an article in the Sunday Sun entitled Mara: Pros And Cons, in which I argued that given the need for Freundel Stuart to stamp himself on the DLP, it was unwise to waste a safe DLP seat, simply for the symbolism of lengthening Thompson’s shadow. Following the article, I was roundly condemned by those who, as expected, read to the article with party-tinted lenses.

At the time, this suggestion had nothing to do with any negative Thompson image. However, today, four years later, the Thompson name is now devalued currency.

To young and aspiring politicians, the real lesson in CLICOgate is that you should manage your associations carefully. Bruce Golding’s experience with Dudus Coke should have been a salutary lesson. Make genuine service your motivation. Let the poor and powerless be your friends.

Like Bob Marley, you should have “no friends in no high society”, since money and wealth are driven by opportunism, and often come crashing down. Forward ever!


• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs.


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