According to media reports, the Members of Parliament (MPs) for Golden Isles, Bain and Grants Town and Pineridge have been terminated from their government posts for voting against the legislation that increases the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate from 7.5% to 12%. This historical day will be remembered as a day when men of courage were persecuted and paid a price for standing up for their constituents.
Bahamians are waking up daily to the reality that we have elected another status quo administration with the same antiquated and oppressive mentality. The Government by its actions over the last year has shown that it is tone deaf and disconnected from the hardship of the average Bahamian.
The current administration seems to have forgotten that democracy should produce a government of the people, by the people and for the people. MPs are elected by the people to be their voice in the people’s parliament. The Government tried but failed to silence the people’s voice and concerns as communicated through their MPs.
MPs should not be threatened or maligned for speaking up for their constituents; they are simply the people’s servants and messengers. The Bahamas is not a dictatorship and it is time for a new era in Bahamian politics; an era devoid of political tribalism, intimidation, and manipulation.
The people will recall that in 2014, the current Prime Minister and Minister of Finance both voted against the implementation of VAT on the premise that they were concerned about the impact it will have on the poor. It is therefore unbelievable that the same individuals now sitting as part of the Government have the effrontery and audacity to punish duly elected MPs for seeking to do the same thing based on their convictions in 2018. We submit that the lack of conviction by our political leaders is the bane of democracy in The Bahamas.
The late Dr. Martin Luther King said it best when he stated that “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” We commend all the MPs who found the courage to speak truth to power and more importantly express the sentiments of the people they represent. In refusing to conform to the system, they put the interests of our commonwealth above political ambition and affiliation.
The country salutes and stands with the MPs that stood with the people against an unfair, unjust and uncaring regime.
Arinthia S. Komolafe
Deputy Leader, Democratic National Alliance