week I wasn’t going to write about Eric Williams’ resignation as
Energy Minister. I wanted to talk about something frivolous, yet
important, like the power of a stunning Oscar-winning, famous actress like
Angelina Jolie. How she uses that permanent media spotlight on her to give
a voice to the poorest, war-affected and diseased-wrecked people on earth,
in Haiti, in Cambodia, in Ethiopia, in Pakistan, in the Dominican
Republic. That was to be the original piece. Of this heartening trend in
the age of bling bling.
I feel instead compelled to comment on our public figures and the fact
that the former energy minister resigned only when he was forced to, by
virtue of a police warrant, and not when he ought to have, in May, when
there was a sufficiently strong doubt cast over his integrity.
doubt is a reason to resign. Until you are cleared. Resignation is not an
admission of guilt. It is an act of integrity in public life, an
understanding that it is not good enough to be correct and honourable but
to be SEEN as being this way especially as your life is seen as an ideal
by so many people. “You reach and you could do that? Well who is we?”
coolly watched his colleague Franklin Khan take the rap when the
allegations of bribery came out and instead of doing the right thing, as
Khan did, decided to brazen his way out of the imbroglio. He dug his heels
with a “move me nah” attitude, stayed on and held on to his Government
salary and perks, paid by us, until he got away with it.
there was no choice, until the police called to say you are to be arrested
on seven fraud charges arising out of allegations of financial bribes from
a local government councillor—resign.
after that he did the equivalent of seeking asylum from the laws of the
country by hiding in the church and loudly invoking God. How glibly he
invoked God! If I were a Christian I would call it a sort of blasphemy.
Why only invoke God after you are told you are to be arrested on charges
of fraud? Why not invoke Him for help during your very important work of
handling the nation’s energy resources, on which average humble people
of this country depend on to put food on their table, secure schools and
hospitals for their children, provide roads, electricity and water?
knows whether Khan or Williams are innocent or guilty. We are still
talking allegations. But those allegations are disturbing. If there was a
shadow of truth in them then they needed to go.There can be no shadow of
corruption over governance.
when shadows are blurred that a nation’s soul rots insidiously.
not be naive. Nobody is talking Sunday School here. If we have enough
experience we know that the very successful and those who are scratching
to survive have blurred the lines between right and wrong and live in the
world of expedience. Whatever works. They/we live in a permanent shadow of
a little fiddling of the books here, a bit of laundering there, hovering
between political parties, supporting known criminals because they are
famous or can get us places, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
attending mosque, temple and church as usual, with loud evocations of God.
let us know what we are doing. Even while living in the shadow to survive
or succeed let us be aware of the markers pointing to right and wrong.
Because when that marker disappears, when all ideals disappear, there can
be no room for a humanity that separates us from scavengers and rats.
Eric Williams’ colleague Franklin Khan resigned last May, I felt my
heart for the first time in months, years perhaps, lift into the skies for
this country, not because I thought he was guilty but because he came out
of the shadows and acknowledged that markers exist for us all.