Where the Round Table went Wrong

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

Late last year, what was a knee jerk response to the Section 34 Fiasco and the deplorable state of National Security, opened way to facilitate the union of a rag tag force of heavy hitters in Trinidad and Tobago. Answering the call made by MSJ leader David Abdulah, were members of various organizations, both political and non-political, partisan and non-partisan. What began as a table of over 19 organizations who nobody (including themselves) thought would ever see eye to eye, became a united force to be reckoned with, under the guidance of a clearly defined mandate (which took hours on end to pan out). The Round Table was formed and all was well in the fight for a better TnT, as they would have you believe. Soon after support, legitimacy and impact was established, Camelot appeared up for grabs before even being saved. The Dynamic changed from a Round Table to a two headed dragon, that eventually began to be looked upon as a two headed jackass.

The big question; ‘Where did the Championing stop and the braying begin?’ The mandate was clear, that the group called the “Round Table” would in immediate response to the absurdities and attrocities in Government, call for the removal of the current Attorney General Anand Ramloogan over Section 34, and the removal of (then) National Security Minister Jack Warner for well, being Jack Warner, nothing more to say about that one. The medium and long term call would be for Good Governance, the kind that was promised since the PP’s 2010 campaign. After the Government in their usual brazen display of arrogance, refused to adhere to the call of the Round Table, the people were called on for their support. The 40 000- 50 000 people estimated that came out to march flooded Independence Square to the point where it literally could hold no more patrons. Members of the march who came out to support their political parties involved composed less than half of the march, people were fed up and looking for action, standing united, different colour creed and race. The Government, in their usual ‘Wrong and Strong’ attitude and trademark shameless PR tried to downplay the numbers of the march, the races of those involves (to the point of claiming that it was a black people march…), and the result being those in power laughing in the face of the people and their mandate (and promises) to serve. This given…what was the next step?

Following this momentous event that affirmed the support of the people and confirmed the Government’s mandate to serve only themselves, the chips had fallen and the intents of both sides were laid clear. The response now that was needed was apparent, the next step was to crank up the social and other pressure on the Government, past the talk and noise as they had no intention of listening to the people. This including a call for justice to be done by removal of the leader that protected them at every turn, the Prime Minister. So the leader of the Opposition, being a member of the Round Table, directed the only logical course of action. To tell on the Prime Minister… Yes, the grand ‘or else’ with the support of parties, a wide cross section of NGO’s, and the entire Labour movement, in the face of tyranny, was to tattle to the President (Via article 81. of the Constitution). Now nothing would have been wrong with this being done alongside other action being taken, but this was not the case. Talks of ‘shut downs,’ ‘walkouts,’ and other strong pressure actions within the law would have sent more than a message, but alas, impotence is usually praised as diplomatic action. That is when the dynamic shifted. That is when various groups also saw the politics being played by the Opposition Leader in the situation, backed and protected by the leader of the MSJ who formed an inner shield around him via his chairmanship. The Round Table narrowed in width, and lengthened in breadth.

The last march called by Labour boasted of between 3000-15000 persons, depending on who was asked about it. Let’s take the high end figure of 15 000 (which is very well possible), and go with that. What could the combined voice of Labour and the PNM with 15 000 supporters do that the combined voice of Labour, PNM, and the majority of Civil Society with near 50 000 supporters couldn’t? Not a damn thing… The Round Table was a hub of hope, and Media would camp for hours to hang on the combined words of a new force of the people, by the people, for the people. It has since degraded to a specific interest political parody of its former (almost) glory. Many who stayed and joined late, are those either unable to make an impact or inspire those outside of persons and groups clinging to the underbelly of what some know as their only vehicle to attempt to remain relevant, or others simply unsure of where they are, where they are going, or where they really should be. The Round Table went Wrong when it became a Rectangular talkshop of those politically dying, using lesser groups as life support.

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