Briefings from Rebuild Dominica President on OAS Meeting with PM Skerrit and Ambassador Henderson

Rebuild Dominica Inc (RD) shares the position taken at the OAS Meeting with PM Skerrit and Ambassador Henderson on the evening of Tuesday October 10, 2017.

3 Recommendations from Rebuild Dominica

  1. A government of national unity.
  2. A national reconstruction conference soonest – inclusive of government , NGO, private sector and civil society.
  3. A national reconstruction commission grounded in the ethic of bipartisanship and comprised of government, Opposition and technocrats capable of managing the rebuilding in an inclusive and coordinated fashion.

The PM said he was opposed to a government of national unity as he did not have the constitutional right to do such a government. We disagreed on that point. As the majority party the PM can always choose to include non-Labour Party ministers.

The PM said he was supportive of a national reconstruction conference and commission. However, he would give no date other than to say it would be during the recovery phase.

I stressed that it was almost a month since Hurricane Maria and no briefing has included the Opposition. He felt the Opposition had assented itself and he could not direct them or tell them to fix roofs or roads. He missed the point that as PM he must lead.

He was critical of those who criticized and intimated it was unpatriotic. Several of us responded that constructive criticism is essential in a democracy especially at times of crisis.

Conclusion and Next Steps

We must continue to press for a unity government, a national reconstruction conference, and national reconstruction commission. It must be done soonest as more and more people are living.

The PM said his visit to the World Bank was positive and the donor community was coming through with grants and loans. He spoke reassuringly that Ross Medical School would stay, salaries would be paid, the national debt payment for September 2017 was paid, and civil servants who worked well would be kept. If the civil servant did not work well they would be fired.

The PM also spoke of upcoming meetings with Elon Musk regarding solar, Carnival Cruise Lines and that General Electric donated a 3MW solar system.

The concern expressed was whether the government possessed the capacity to handle the mammoth task ahead without a commission possessed of a nonpartisan spirit and requisite competence.

The PM gave an almost cheerful view of things whereas we felt such a disposition is only reasonable where we are organized in an inclusive fashion, government, Opposition and other.

We closed with a stirring prayer by Pastor St Clair Mitchell. About 22 – 25 persons attended.

Ambassador Henderson was pleasant but said nothing. The PM spoke alone. No aides spoke. The questions were polite. It got a bit testy when I forged on: insisting that the national emergency required action as we proposed such was in the national interest.

The atmosphere was civil and the points were made. The PM had some supporters who took his view but they were not impolite.

Let us press on with grassroots empowerment organization at home and abroad. This is key because it is my humble view that the dire state of the nation is yet to be fully grasped and the PM seems unwilling to reach out as dynamically as is required – despite his promises to be inclusive. He does not appreciate that alone – or reliant on his regime – the huge task of reconstruction cannot be done. Time will tell.

However we must act to do what we can, in organized fashion, best we can. We must empower ourselves and communities by organized and united action – to include organizing at home and abroad in groups and all with each other. If you are not part of an aid group, join one. Make your presence felt in concrete fashion beyond verbal or written discharge. In so doing we build power among our people and not rely on a hegemonic regime to do for us what we won’t do for ourselves.

God bless you all.

 

Gabriel J. Christian, Esq.

President of Rebuild Dominica, Inc.