On Power, Authority and Governance In Barbados – And Land Transfers

Lower Burney Housing Project – Barbados

With all the questions flying back and forth about how certain people came to live on certain lands in Lower Burney, we dug way back into the online archives to find this little tidbit. (and yes, we know the word is properly supposed to be “titbit”, but we’re a family blog, doan ya know! – Which is a polite reminder to Cliverton that we had an agreement about certain things being posted and certain things not… OK?)

Have a read of this from the website of BANGO – Barbados Association Of Non-Governmental Organisations. Apparently, an NGO was having some trouble receiving cooperation from the Minister of Housing about a public housing project in Lower Burney.

It looks like they were later able to work out some arrangement because the housing project was eventually given the go-ahead.

Remind me again… do we know anybody who lives in this public housing project?…

Power, Authority and Governance

When Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) put in its proposal to the Minister of Housing in 2002, to partner with Government on the housing project in Lower Burney, it was at first met with some caution.

After several meetings between PCW, the Minister of Social Transformation, the Minister of Housing and his advisors, it was agreed that PCW should be given the opportunity to prove itself at another level of developmental activity.

The partnership between PCW and the Ministry of Housing was officially launched with a ceremony held at the Lower Burney site. It was acclaimed by the Minister as a revolutionary step in Government’s relations with Civil Society.

In May 2003 the Government was returned to office but the portfolio of Minister of Housing changed hands. Now there seems to be a virtual about face to the partnership between PCW and the Ministry of Housing.

There is no doubt that we will hear the reasons for the about turn and unless the Minister can show some kind of incompetence or lack of cooperation on the part of PCW, then any other reason could only be counted as subjective.

As this column has advocated from time to time, Civil Society cannot properly function based on personalities; who is whose friend or enemy for that matter. Civil Society is about identifying and deploying expertise, skills, knowledge, etc., for the common good of the people; for developmental purposes and devoid of personalities.

The motto which PCW has been instilling in its leaders for many years, now forms the closing of nearly every speech which is made by the Minister of Social Transformation, “No obstacle is greater than the cause”.

Among other things it means that personal relationship should not get into the way of the objective at hand. If therefore there is animosity or bitterness between a Coordinator and a donor or benefactor, then another Coordinator takes on the role of liaison between the organisation and the donor or benefactor.

This is not necessarily to pacify the donor or benefactor but to keep the objective in focus. Whatever enmity exists, the personalities will have to work that out by themselves in another arena.

This is a strategy that is utilised by the private sector as well because similarly a shrewd businessman would not let anything or anybody get in the way of sales. Those who get in the way of the prosperity of the company will either go or the company will go; although a person with skills or expertise may be differently utilised by the company.

When it comes to social justice and governance, the politicians’ responsibility to the electors is similar to the responsibility of parents who have two or more children. If they want to run a peaceful household, they should not to things like make one child do all the chores and the others relax or dispense justice based on favouritism.

The most crucial factors in dispensing justice are fairness, certainty and equality. If you read the Constitution of Barbados you are bound to find these principles enshrined.

You will also find that these form part of the expectations of what is termed “Good Governance”, a responsibility or mandate which is vested in those who form the Government.

So good governance is not simply about keeping law and order but about how Government interfaces with the people; how they govern the country and the extent to which the people have confidence that justice is being fairly dispensed. Good Governance is about bringing quality to democratic practices.

It is unthinkable that this Government has been spearheading the implementation of the CSME and yet some of its rank and file are not demonstrating the spirit of development that we are expected to achieve.

There is no need for a Government Minister to get involved in overturning a decision which had the approval of the former Minister and more than likely the approval of Cabinet too.

This is now a matter between the Establishment and the organisation and unless the Establishment reports to the Minister that the organisation with which Government is seeking to partner is not cooperating or is falling short of its responsibility then the Minister has no grounds to intervene or intercept without calling into question the transparency of such actions.

As we move to seek greater cooperation between Civil Society and Government, matters like these will be held up to scrutiny because they smack of bad faith. They have implications because if you can do it to one then you can do it to all.

We have to move to a new level of governance. We have to develop what could be called “good democratic practices”. We have to understand that elections are about deciding who is best suited to be vested with the authority of Government.

Further the people of Barbados must not be left to feel that politicians, rather than using the authority vested in them to achieve good governance are instead using that authority against any of the people of this country.

The people of Barbados are becoming more and more sophisticated. We are learning fast about what is required to compete in a global environment. Many young people are entering this competitive environment and getting first hand experience about what is required to survive globalisation and are quickly putting it into practice.

Our people are also keeping a keen eye on how Government is operating because they know that they can be either empowered or disempowered by their Government’s decisions.

It is no political secret that the extent to which power or authority can be wielded is defined by the extent to which the people are tolerable to overuse or abuse. Sooner than later ordinary people will seek to influence government in order to survive the global onslaught. Participation is the key.

Therefore opportunities for participation should not be snatched from communities and government going back on its word should not be taken lightly. Since PCW has done everything to comply with Government’s demands to take on this partnership, it is only fitting that they are allowed to fulfill their commitments.

6 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

6 responses to “On Power, Authority and Governance In Barbados – And Land Transfers

  1. Harvard Girl

    Does this have anything to do with a certain Mercedes parked in a certain driveway?

  2. of interest

    hi guys I find all this rather interesting, but isnt this a case of easy comes easy goes? how did PCW Qualify? was the contractor/project manager for PCW not the same individual who was the Project Manager, Material Supplier and subcontractor on the Old peoples home at vauxhall? wasnt he previously a former campaing manager for the same person who resides at the controversial lot 37.

    Isnt the same person now or previously a member if the board at UDC while being a developer with them?

    Isnt this same cupid arrow not the person recently nominated to run for our parliment in st george south?

    Thank god common sense prevailed and this proposal was thrown out as this would have been another one of those major scandals where only the poor tax payer pays

  3. victimized

    PCW – It wasn’t thrown out. They sorted out their problems and it happened.

    Who did the governement take the Vauxhall land from for the Old Peoples home which is supposed to open next month?

    This is getting very interesting.

  4. ian brathwaite

    This response is not on the subject on hand but,Iam an architectural draftperson here in the united states.I know that in order to construct a structure “house” you will need to acquire some form of architectural drawings. I am willing to prepare drawings “free of charge” for the low income Barbadian residence. Providing the local government and town and country planning will permit me to.
    Thanks you for your time.

  5. ian brathwaite

    This response is not on the subject on hand but,Iam an architectural draftperson here in the united states.I know that in order to construct a structure “house” you will need to acquire some form of architectural drawings. I am willing to prepare drawings “free of charge” for the low income Barbadian residence. Providing the local government and town and country planning will permit me to.
    Thanks you for your time.