General Secretary (GS) of the Alliance for Change (AFC), David Patterson, is of the opinion that the current leadup to the March 2 General and Regional Elections is the “most divisive campaign period ever”.
In a recent Facebook post, Patterson – who is also the Public Infrastructure Minister – wrote: “Elections 2020 will be my fourth General and Regional Elections as a candidate since 2006 – I can say with absolute certainty that this is the most divisive campaign period ever. The ethnic insecurities and racial undertones that have always been simmering below the surface have now risen. I have been reading the comments, posts and listening to the public utterances of persons who up to this point, I considered colleagues and friends, and quite frankly I am dismayed and saddened.”
The GS said he is still trying to process some of the utterances being made.
“[I am] dismayed because never in a Month of Sundays, could I imagine that they harboured such thoughts about me personally…Saddened because I have been a very poor judge of character – and it is now plainly obvious that all skin teeth nah laugh”, the minister wrote.
Patterson said that he is still trying to figure out what will happen after the elections are held, and how he will readjust to people, whom, in his opinion, have exhibited such divisive traits.
“After the elections would have come and gone, how am I supposed to interact with these ‘friends’? Is it expected that we return to business as usual? Is it expected that we can once again sit at the same table and old talk, when during this period, because of my political affiliations and ethnicity – my ‘friends’ have branded me a thug and a thief?”
He reminded that everyone has as “God-given” right to support the party of their choice, and appealed for goodwill.
“It’s not too late to stop our decline – as night follows day, one party will be the winner. Do not allow yourself [to] descend so low, that should you be on the losing side, you would have dug yourself so deep in the gutter, you would be stuck there,” he said.
The politician’s comments come at a time when the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) is calling on politicians and supporters to be respectful of the rights of others. The body is also in the process of crafting a campaign code of conduct. Political parties are required to make recommendations.