Former Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Sir James Mitchell said that the Caribbean has a problem with succession, emphasizing that leaders must know when to “pack up.”
Mitchell made this statement during his address at the UWP National Convention held on Sunday.
Mitchell made reference to the United National Congress (UNC) of Trinidad and Tobago where members of that party are split between having Kamla Persad-Bissessar returned as leader or not.
Persad-Bissessar lost the September 2015 election in the twin-island republic to People’s National Movement’s fourth leader, Dr Keith Rowley.
The long-standing SVG prime minister also pointed to the recent situation in Canada, where Stephen Harper resigned as party leader following a decisive defeat by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party.
He also pointed to the last election in England, where the conservative party led by David Cameron won and the same night the Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband tendered his resignation.
“We have a problem with succession in the Caribbean. What is wrong with us? We don’t know when to pack up?” he questioned.
Mitchell said that he outlived almost 40 leaders of the Caribbean and he has even witnessed some of them, who he described as dragon flies, “who dip their tails in the water and then they are gone.”
He said “life changes,” but when a party loses an election, they must do a proper post-mortem and find out why they lost. “If the people say they ain’t want you, go home,” he asserted.
“I want to say to you Mr. Chastanet and I want you to promise me UWP members that if you lead the party at the next election to defeat you retire the same night.”
However, he also admited that a lot of leaders or successors make mistakes, but should not take away from the fact that these leaders gave their service to the party and the country.
“I believe the people of our Caribbean are at fault. We do not know how to look at people service for the party…honour their service in the new dispensation,” he advised.