Wise residents fully understand that United Kingdom oversight of the Virgin Islands is required at this time. Complete culture change towards an honest society is the singular route to self-determination for the territory. Until then, UK oversight will continue to be necessary.
Observation of the House of Assembly of Feb. 21 and the subsequent back-and-forth of the VI media made this writer ponder. It was as if the Commission of Inquiry into VI governance never happened, and nothing was learned from the trauma.
There was even a hint at justification for some of the financial iniquities over contracts and such in past years. There appeared to be an attempt to downplay the seriousness of allegations made by the public commission. Indeed, treating as mere distraction matters of gross financial misconduct has become a culture of politicians.
In recent debates, there was evisceration and avoidance of key matters of the COI recommendations for governance reform.
The preceding is unacceptable and risky. Why? Because it could trigger the temporary suspension of the VI Constitution under a UK order in council issued shortly after the COI report was released last April.
Reform is most critical at this time. There can be no foot dragging. Obfuscation is dangerous for the territory in its quest to avoid UK intervention. The avoidance of direct UK intervention in the form of constitutional suspension required swift and nimble footwork by the VI premier and his advisers.
Meanwhile, the prime minister of Barbados is an avid student and observer of the past: a brilliant intellectual. Her pontifications on slavery, colonialism and imperialism — coupled with a deep sense of injustice — have earned her deep respect in the southern hemisphere. The irony is that her assertions are very commonplace, especially in black postcolonial society.
The tendency to blame every evil in black majority societies — such as the VI on colonialism and racism — is a very common malarkey. It is meaningless talk leading nowhere. These continuous sermons on an ugly past are in essence an excuse: a useful crutch. Colonialism and racism are the convenient bogeyman and scapegoat for a lack of integrity and for dishonest governance in these countries and territories.
To the north
The irony is that while black-majority societies rage over supposed injustices committed more than 100 years ago, northern white-majority states pursue honest governance and science that alone lead to social prosperity.
Northern free societies are relatively honest and transparent despite incidents of corruption that also handicap them at intervals. The issue of honesty and corruption is one of degree. Most societies contain corruption in one form or another. The problem with many developing states in Africa and the Caribbean is the far greater degree of dishonesty inherent in the political culture.
Colonialism has become a mask: a Band-Aid to cover corruption and poor governance. However, modern postcolonial countries sink or swim on the quality of governance they possess, and on their social and economic cultures.
Honest cultures prosper because taxpayer cash is spent on the needs of those societies and not on schemes that benefit the governing elite — or, worse still, that steal outright from national treasuries. Systemic dishonesty is expensive and ultimately disastrous. A country like Nigeria offers the best example.
When we all understand — Virgin Islander, belonger and expatriate alike — the reality that honesty is the best policy, then we see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of social and economic development: El Dorado. Developed societies learned this fact the hard way. Developing states in Africa and the Caribbean are still learning.
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