The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) continues to stand in solidarity with the citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda as we usher in our 41st anniversary of political independence amidst unprecedented uncertainty, fear, anxiety, hopelessness and despair crippling our people.
The chosen theme, “Moving Forward with Unity, Strength and Stability”, fails to resonate with the majority of us and there is a collectively conclusion that the members of the Cabinet live in a different Antigua and Barbuda to the rest of us! People continue to remark ad nauseum, “What Unity? What Strength? What Stability? Sadly, these sentiments reflect the pessimism which overshadows our country.
Never before has our country been so sharply divided politically!
Never before has there been such unprecedented unemployment!
Never before has there been such chronic under-employment!
Never before has crime paralyzed our people!
Never before has a government refused to address the cost-of-living crisis!
Never before has mal-nutrition been normalized for our people!
Never before has the plight of pensioners been ignored!
Never before have public servants been so demoralized!
Never before have civil society organizations been bullied into silence!
Never before has the freedom of the press been so trampled!
Never before have journalists been blatantly censored!
Never before have our constitutional rights and freedoms been so stifled!
Never before have our health care facilities been on the brink of collapse!
Never before has our educational system been so moribund!
Never before has land ownership been so unreachable to the people!
Never before has potable water been so unavailable to the homeowners, school plants, health care facilities and businesses!
Never before has our road network been so dilapidated!
Never before have economic opportunities so eluded our people!
Never before has our national debt rivalled that of a first world country per capita!
Never before has brain drain among our youth been so relentless!
Never before has a government so mismanaged our finances!
Never before has our economy teetered on the brink of collapse!
Never before has the confidence of the masses been so shattered!
Never before has a Cabinet trampled good governance principles!
Never before have elected officials blatantly engage in corrupt practices!
Never before has there been an urgent clamour for REAL POLITICAL CHANGE!
My good people, the DNA hears you! We feel you! For too long, the cries of our people have fallen on the ears of our elected officials who appear tone-deaf to the hardships, rapidly increasing poverty, marginalization, frustrations and suffering of our people.
Gaston Browne boasts of a buoyant economy which apparently only he, his Cabinet members, their families, politically well-connected friends and cronies continue to experience and enjoy. However, in reality, the majority remain impoverished evidenced by the glaring disparities between the haves and the have-nots.
People are giving an honest day’s work yet cannot afford the basic staples in the supermarkets! Today, in Antigua and Barbuda, on a daily basis, people are forced to choose whether to spend their last $20 between topping up their phones, buying expensive gas for their vehicles or buying several packs of noodles to feed their families! The touted “economic powerhouse” is a pure illusion!
And, in the midst of this charade of prosperity being enjoyed by the people, the Prime Minister is caught on camera in his constituency shoving cash into the hands of residents designed purely to entice them to vote for him. Ask yourselves, can Gaston Browne and the ABLP not win the upcoming election on their record of performance over the past 8 years?
Further, let us be frank, honest, level up and think … IF politicians must pay you – bribe you – to vote for them then they have failed the people! How sustainable is this type of grandstanding? How does this conduct truly empower the people? What about other vulnerable persons who live in Ottos, Grays Farm, Bethesda, Cedar Grove, Potters, Bendals, Bolans, Skerrits Pasture, Parham Town, Willikies, Liberta, All Saints, Barbuda, Ovals, Fort Road and Sea View Farm? Will money be shoved in their hands too?
My people, collectively we must condemn money politics! We must reject politicians who see us only at election time as goods to be bought and sold to the highest bidder and ignore us after the last ballot is counted!
The reality is that the Gaston Browne Administration has failed to meet its basic responsibilities and obligations to the people – pensioners, public servants, the vulnerable, and local creditors who are owed millions and millions.
The ABLP has failed to create a robust, level, transparent and dynamic enabling economic environment conducive to local and reputable foreign investors and one in which creativity and innovation can thrive particularly among our youth. Regrettably, for the past 8 years, Gaston Browne has refused to lay out any short, medium or long-term national development plan for our country choosing instead his preferred hit and miss approach to governance! His so-called economic model has failed both country and people!
Citizens and residents, we must no longer accept a despotic government masquerading like democracy! I beg you to summon the courage to effect the political change we so urgently need now. Reject the exchange, the political musical chairs between the ABLP and the UPP which has characterized our politics for the past 40 years! An exchange from the ABLP to the UPP will bring much of the same or even worse!
Neither the ABLP nor the UPP has the courage, the policies or the people to lead the transformational change required in Antigua and Barbuda now!
The DNA says boldly that, as we welcome our 41st year of independence, an urgent national reset of our priorities designed to chart a new destiny for our re-development is required now!
Our people at home and in the Diaspora must embrace a revolutionary collective change in attitude, discipline, productivity, efficiency, commitment and a new government determined and committed to redesign a robust, diverse and all-inclusive economy underpinned by a buoyant private sector capable of offering sustained employment to our people!
The DNA will stop the selling of our passports which has become a gateway to CIP citizens to acquire vast tracks of lands for speculative development purposes. The DNA is committed to preserving our patrimony for future generations, and to engage in regular public consultations designed to achieve the long overdue Constitutional reform fashioned by the people. Our motto, “Prosperity For All” will be experienced by our people!
However, to achieve this vision requires that we elect a government comprised of honest, patriotic, unblemished, selfless God-fearing women and men whose commitment to country is unshakeable and incorruptible! The DNA is that choice!
Citizens and residents, you would have now become aware of the resignation of two of our members who, as our press release indicated, failed to persuade the DNA leadership that a “coming together” of the DNA and the UPP should be pursued or, alternatively, that the DNA should not participate in the upcoming general elections. Politics is both fluid and dynamic where persons leave and join other political parties. However, we remain resolute that the governance of the people of Antigua and Barbuda cannot and should not be bartered for personal political expediency. I assure you all that politics is not for the faint hearted; the DNA remains strong, resilient, focused and committed to delivering a fairer and better Antigua and Barbuda for all of us.
Citizens and residents, we urge you to keep the faith, to pray for our Leaders, ourselves and our country, and to remain faithful patriots.
May God continue to bless each and every one of you and may God bless Antigua and Barbuda!