There will be no greater autonomy or independence in United Kingdom overseas territories until their residents trust local government.
Recent crises in OT governance in the Turks and Caicos Islands and elsewhere will drive the idea of independence off the map for a generation.
Why? Because for all OT politicians’ talk of greater transparency, accountability, and government by citizen, OT residents are wise enough to know hot air when they hear it.
In fact, the reality is that when political parties in OTs win power, the opposite takes place.
And one reason OT voters do not want greater autonomy from the UK is the simple fact that residents want oversight of their politicians — and for very good reason.
Indeed, there are multiple reasons OT residents want better oversight.
One is unaccountable governance through unelected people who call the shots from behind the scenes and who actually have huge sway over the public services and staffing of OT governments.
Then there is the victimisation of public officers, especially the honest ones who refuse to be coerced into doing the bidding of corrupt politicians and their hangers-on.
On the other hand, dishonest public officers who will turn a blind eye to what is clearly wrong are promoted and placed in key and sensitive positions to oversee the misrule of Jack the Rogue Politician.
All the talk of accountability, citizen participation, and love of the people is frequently a charade: the proverbial smokescreen to blind the seemingly “naïve public” to what is actually taking place in the secret caves and coves about the islands. But the public is far from naïve and blinded.
Around the world
The fact is that corrupt governance is the governing culture in much of the Caribbean and much of the rest of the world. The OTs shouldn’t be singled out.
However, that is no excuse for the continuation of a culture of conflict of interest, corruption, and interference in governing institutions designed to protect the public from misrule.
If islands in the Caribbean are to reach El Dorado, honest governance is a critical requirement.
The simple fact is that after decades of independence and autonomy in most of the Caribbean, the physical infrastructure never changes for the better. People continue to suffer poverty and social decline, and one scratches one’s head to see where the billions of dollars in revenue have been spent.
Now, all who bother to read this writer’s tales know that he has for nearly a decade been an advocate of independence and greater autonomy for OTs.
And like most black UK citizens, he is the first to acknowledge that the UK, like other majority white societies, remains racist and prejudiced even though there is a clear effort today by these countries to become multicultural, inclusive and accepting of minorities.
However, recent events in specific OTs have placed him firmly against any move towards greater autonomy or independence.
Why? Because until there is clear oversight of the executive branches of government, and effective checks and balances on the executive branch — such as a truly independent judiciary and a native governor with real power and constitutional teeth fully responsible for national security and the public service — there will be no good governance.
The last thing an independent Caribbean island needs is a dictator type at the helm surrounded by henchmen and cronies
The sad fact is that the Caribbean islands where there is true constitutional oversight, such as the territories of the UK and European Union countries, remain the islands with the highest living standards, the best quality of life, and the safest streets.
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