The prominence of the Harris family in political and judicial offices screams of a dynastical rule; says source
A London-based on-line media house is of the view that Nevisian Zidan Wilkin has proved at the just concluded 47th Leeward Islands Debating Competition in Antigua last weekend that the exuberance of youth is powerful thing.
In his passionate speech, Wilkin argued that “the lack of trust in our own people is the main reason why the majority of CARICOM states are yet to adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of appeal.” Referring to the close ties between politicians and the judiciary, he said that it should come as no surprise that Caribbean people have developed such a palpable distrust of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
WICNews.com said that the repetition of ‘Harris’ prompted some ripples of laughter amongst the packed crowd in attendance and no doubt did so amongst the many viewers watching on TV as well. The reason is quite simple. It is hard to imagine one family being so openly entrenched into the important institutions of the country quite like it is the case in St. Kitts and Nevis and for those not familiar with St. Kitts and Nevis’s complex politics, it may even seem farcical. But as amusing as Wilkin’s delivery was, the questions he raised are even more important. The optics of one family holding so many significant offices is not ideal and naturally, suspicions of undue influence being exercised will always be present.
The media house noted that Mr Wilkin is not alone in suggesting this. Wilkin used the opportunity to buttress his presentation by referring to a statement by Chief Justice of the OECS Supreme Court Dame Janice Pereira at the opening of the New Law Term in September 2016.
The Leader of the Opposition in St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr Denzil Douglas has also made claims about the Prime Minister mis-using his powers to interfere with the police force as part of a “sinister plan”. He has suggested that Dr Harris removed the Commissioner of the Police Force because he believed him to be a supporter of Mr. Douglas.
Even putting the thinly-veiled insinuations of corruption to one side, there is no doubt that Wilkin has a point. Even if it is accepted that there is nothing suspect about the character of the Harrises and that they are able to do their roles with complete independence, the message it sends to the ordinary people of St. Kitts and Nevis is not a good one. It drains the hope from the young people of St. Kitts and Nevis who dream of occupying those positions themselves.
The prominence of one family in political and judicial offices screams of a dynastical rule which most maturing democracies have – however grudgingly – attempted to leave behind. Even in those places where dynastical politics remains prevalent, it has not proven popular of late and the acceptance of nepotism seems to be waning.
The Nevis debaters were awarded 640 points and went on to win the debating competition in the final on Sunday. More significantly though, they may have won the fight for their future. Mr. Wilkin’s persuasive argument will hopefully bring the sanctity of St. Kitts and Nevis’s institutions to the forefront of political debate. It can only be hoped that the concerns of bright, intelligent youngsters like Mr Wilkin are addressed by the Prime Minister and not left to fester.