This blog is excerpted weekly in the Trinidad Guardian. The paper requested that this week’s entry, Post 150, be re-written because it didn’t fit a ‘Diary of a Mothering Worker’ topic. Below is the revised entry.

I write as a mother, wife, political scientist, feminist, activist, citizen and voter. We are not simply Indians or Africans, or women or men, or workers or parents, but a mix of all, and our perspectives on the world come through these intersections.

Across these identities, I’m unimpressed at the lack of forthright honesty being shown by a government that it’s our job to continuously hold accountable. It’s our job because we are parents who value setting a good example for our children just as much as we are citizens who have a right to legitimate exercise of political power.

If I ask Ziya for the truth and she refuses to answer, is that okay? If teachers ask students for the truth, and they dismissively deflect, should these big adults walk away? Do we let our leaders do the very things we teach our children not to?

Public officials cannot refuse public questions.

That Anil Roberts remains a minister means that the legitimacy of the government has gone up in smoke. Roberts alleged behaviour in a recently leaked video means zero to me. What is intolerable is his, the PM and the Cabinet’s failure to choose truth. I’ve tuned off UNC paid political broadcasts once they give him tomfoolery time on their platform.

Cowering behind Ministry of Communication propaganda while shouting from the safety of hustings is devious. It’s smartman politics to refuse for weeks to answer a straightforward public question, to deflect from personal responsibility by pointing fingers in every pointless direction, and to boldfacedly try to impose the pretense, like the emperor with no clothes, that everyone can’t see your backside.

A government who will let a cabinet member avoid answering an easy, small stakes, yes or no question, will also let all its ministers avoid honestly answering hard, deeply accountable questions about expenditure of state funds, disbursement of state contracts, and signed deals for infrastructural projects. These are the big stakes that will push the same people shouting ‘ray ray’ in today’s rallies to someday switch parties, then later burn tires in the road, and finally make their living by the gun once oil and gas money is inexplicably gone. Then what place will this be for my family?

When I could talk about the experience of mothering a mixed race little girl, I write instead about lack of governmental transparency because we must change the world for our children. This is feminist motherhood from day one, which is why mothers have taken on everything from literacy to work-family balance, media sexism, development models, disarmament and political leadership. The hand that rocks the cradle has always also re-envisioned and mobilized the world.

Even if Roberts is finally fired, for me, it will be too late, reflecting political expediency, calculated timing and public pressure more than any principle. If he’s left at the helm of his ministry, Cabinet might as well wrap the concept of integrity in some paper and strike a match because Campaign 2015s real politik is fire bun honesty.

Expensively packaged rallies cannot hide repeated turns away from transparency when I can watch shiftiness on the news for free.What politicians often don’t realize is how much petty corruption, mismanagement or scandal backfires because voters don’t like to be treated like fools.

It’s too bad. The government has attempted to answer every question put to them in Parliament, something that the PNM not once in three decades managed to consistently do. The best way to turn that widely hoped-for legacy to ashes is an ongoing, parallel failure to earn my and your vote through truth.


 

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