Fri 9th Oct 2009

Vote NO for new constitution and keep Zimbabwe style regime out of SVG

Protection of fundamental rights and freedoms are the pillars of the rule of law. In Zimbabwe, the Robert Mugabe junta operates outside the rule of law and takes private property by the use of force.

In St Vincent in 2008, heavily armed Black Squad officers removed Mr. Papa Iston from his property at Mt Pleasant. The contents of his house were taken away without his permission as well and put into storage without the government first compensating him for his land and property. The force used was similar to the type used in Zimbabwe. Surely this is a breach of fundamental rights and freedom.

In the proposed new constitution, government powers are enhanced to compulsory possess private property and not pay one dollar for the first twelve months. A senior lawyer, with over thirty years of practice in SVG, told the Leader of SVG Green Party, Ivan O'Neal, that the twelve months of non-payment by government after compulsory acquisition is outrageous, unacceptable and an abuse of executive power.

The lawyer made reference to the fact that when private lands or property are sold, the deed of sale is handed over when the seller receives total payment under the contract. Under the new constitution, assuming that the land is valued at one million dollars, at ten percent for non-payment over one year, the private owner would have suffered a loss of one hundred thousand dollars from government. He is arguing that the interest factor should come into play in the new constitution.

At the opening of the Argyle bypass road on 23rd September 2009, several property owners that are affected by the compulsory taking of their lands, complained bitterly that after three years they have not been paid or compensated. To make matters worse, in spite of the fact that peoples' properties have been taken over by force, all the IADC shares are in the name of one person - Ralph Gonsalves! The legal advisor to the IADC is Camillio Gonsalves, son of Ralph Gonsalves.

Surely, this kind of behaviour gives one the impression that the ULP leadership is treating SVG as if it is their own private property. Could you imagine what will happen if they receive a yes vote on the new constitution? This is pointing exactly to what is happening in Zimbabwe. When they were voted out of office, they refused to accept the verdict of the people and remain entrenched, believing that they are the only ones with the right to rule.

It is clear that under the new constitution Vincentians will be worse off and the poor are the ones likely to suffer most. The only solution to this is for Vincentians to vote NO whenever the constitutional referendum comes.

We believe that there is a hidden agenda connected to the military airport at argyle and the use of the ALBA currency. The Gonsalves' regime would have no hesitation in pulling SVG out of the Eastern Caribbean currency union and SVG would be virtually swallowed-up overnight by the Bolivarian alternative. Vincentians take warning. Vote NO to this new constitution.

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