Photo by Arnaud Jaegers
4th February 2022
Mia Mottley has been re-elected for a second term as Prime Minister after leading the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a historic landslide victory in the 19 January election.
“The people of this nation have spoken with one voice, decisively, unanimously and clearly,” said Mottley in her election victory speech.
The BLP has claimed all 30 of the available seats in the last two elections. With neither the main opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) nor any of the other political outfits able to win a single constituency, the country is again without a parliamentary opposition.
Less than 48 hours after the election, DLP President Verla De Peiza, who took the reins of the party following the 2018 election, had resigned her position even as she bemoaned the historically low 50% voter turnout.
Prime Minister Mottley has since announced her new Cabinet and 12 Government Senate picks. The 21-member Cabinet is three ministers fewer than the previous government.
She revealed that she would for the first time be appointing senior ministers. Mottley argued that ministers who serve in small countries had to do more “heavy lifting” than their counterparts in larger countries.
“I welcome the four Senior Coordinating Ministers and the Deputy Prime Minister to carry the burden…and most difficult challenges facing any post-independent government in this country,” she said naming five Senior Ministers.
William Duguid will serve as Senior Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, with specific responsibilities for coordinating all infrastructural projects. Deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw will also be Senior Minister for Infrastructure as well as Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources and Leader of Government Business. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Dale Marshall will act as Senior Minister coordinating Governance in the Cabinet.
Senator Jerome Walcott will continue as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, with the added role of Senior Minister coordinating all social and environmental policy. Kerrie Symmonds was sworn in as Minister of Energy and Business Development, and Senior Minister coordinating the productive sectors.
Other significant appointments include Ian Gooding-Edghill as the new Minister of Health and Wellness; Senator Lisa Cummins returning as Minister of Tourism and International Transport; Indar Weir as Agriculture and Food Security Minister; and Kay McConney as Education Minister.
During the swearing in ceremony, Prime Minister Mottley announced that members of the new Cabinet would have to declare their assets to serve, despite the absence of integrity legislation which stalled during her first term. “I repeat, there is zero-tolerance for both corruption and arrogance in this administration,” Mottley warned.
She also announced that the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the problems posed by Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) would be a priority for her new administration. “If I pray for nothing else in this term, it is that our education system finally be reformed to give every Barbadian boy and girl a chance” Mottley said, announcing her intention to enact long-promised education reform.
Having transitioned to a republic in November of 2021, Prime Minister Mottley declared that the “real work and heavy lifting” on Constitutional Reform would start in a matter of weeks, followed by a consultation process with the public culminating in the development of a new constitution.
Meanwhile, Mottley’s announcement that she will use the more the two-thirds majority in Parliament to enact a constitutional amendment lowering the age limit to allow 18-year-old Khaleel Kothdiwala to become the country’s youngest ever senator has been criticised in some quarters. So too has the revelation that she would seek to have two opposition senators appointed even though there would be no opposition in the lower house.
Prime Minister Mottley also announced that she would serve no more than 10 years in office, likely making this election her last as party leader.