Traditionally in Bahamian politics confrontation, demonstrations and protests have been employed to garner public sympathy and support for political parties, fringe groupings and ambitious individuals. This was the case way back in the days of the now fabled Burma Road spectacle and the events at the then Oakes Field Airport. The late Sir Clifford Darling, Charlie Rodrigues and my own father, the late Revered Doctor Ortland H Bodie Sr, et al, who was then a foreman at the Oakes Field Airport, to come to fame.
Later in the 1950s and 1960s, the embryonic PLP (Progressive Liberal Party), led by Lynden Oscar Pindling, et al, came to fame the same way — by attracting public attention and support by theatrics and bombastic utterances. Some of us are old enough to recall when the mace and the speaker’s hourglass were jettisoned out of the House of Assembly by Pindling and the late Sir Milo B Butler. Brother A D Hanna, a diminutive individual, was frequently dragged by burly police officers and physically thrown out of the House of Assembly.
Yes, theatrics have their place in Bahamian politics but there must be a constitutional limit to the same according to section 24 of chapter three of The Bahamas Independence Order, 1973. The right to assemble is permitted by the same but with certain exceptions. The DNA (Democratic National Alliance) and whoever else has the right to assemble and to demonstrate, but they must do so in such a manner as to not pose a threat to public order or safety, inter alia.
First of all, the leader of the DNA and its members and supporters had no permit. If they had applied for one and the commissioner of police (COP) had refused it, all they had to do was to go to the Supreme Court for a judicial review and or an order of mandamus. Simple, especially seeing that the putative leader of the DNA is a lawyer. If the events at the House that day transpired as the cop asserts, he should have had them arrested that same day. To have waited for almost three weeks was a bit overboard and the optics were bad for he, the police force and the administration big time. He was, however, well within his authority.
I hold that the enforcement of the law in the nation is oftentimes too selective and slack viz-a-vie Johnathan Ash’s dash up the steps at the Magistrate’s Courts sometime ago as compared to a shackled and shuffling Shayne Gibson two years ago. All major parties have been holding massive walkabouts accompanied by uniformed and special branch officers with impunity despite what the competent authority and the COP has had to say. No one is paying any attention, seemingly, if one is on the political trail. What happens if these events are superspreaders?
We are also able to recall how now Senator Ranard Henfield and his deluded supporters used to march up and down Carmichael Road (their Jericho) clamoring for a number of demands inclusive of local government for New Providence. He attracted the attention of Minnis and was given a sop via a senate appointment, I guess to shut him up. In fact, for years since he was appointed, few Bahamians even knew that he was there.
It was only a week or so ago [that] Henfield spoke in the Senate to announce that he was going to be elevated to Cabinet in a second term in office by his party. He even went so far as to specify the ministry that he would lord over. He is one brassy individual who has not talked about local government for years now.
Remember one Elsworth Johnson? In a previous incarnation, he was president of the Bahamas Bar. He used that platform to lash out at the old PLP in particular but also the FNM (Free National Movement) that was in opposition. He was seen to be jumping up and down like Cracker Jack huffing and puffing about every conceivable issue, inclusive of the inhumane and unlawful manner in which Christie and crew were treating illegal foreign nationals. He was hustling, in my view, a political nomination. The FNM got to him first and he went on to be elected during the red wave.
He was eventually appointed to Cabinet as a minister of state and is now a substantive minister. He’s stopped cussing and carrying on about those ever-present issues that consumed him back then. This is his reward for theatrics and political drama.
My brother Lincoln Bain and his crew are now attempting the same thing. I suspect that he and his loose coalition are jockeying for a few select nominations from the FNM because there is no way under the sun that Brave would make the same mistake Christie made with Andre Rollins and Renward Wells when they abandoned their unsuspecting supporters in the National Democratic Party some years ago.
They proved to be political carpetbaggers in the extreme. Rollins has faded away while Wells is large and in charge as minister of health and leader of government business to boot. By the way, what is Wells’ combined income from his positions? Now the putative leader of the DNA and her supporters are illegally demonstrating and allegedly carrying on bad outside a sitting House of Assembly?
They should have been locked up and charged from day one. It was so comical to see the expressions of their faces when they were released, as if they had been subjected to police beatings or held in cramped cells. In any event, time is not long now. The general election is just around the corner and the outcome is almost certain. To God, then, in all things, be the glory.
Ortland H Bodie Jr
Business consultant and talk show host
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