Former soldier Stanley Caesar

In the midst of their second Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election this year, most Tobagonians are waiting eagerly to see which of Tobago’s five political parties will control the Assembly from December 7.

But in the quiet fishing village of Lambeau, residents are more concerned about the style of the politics being practised.

Their community is one of three newly-created districts in Tobago following the January 25 election, which ended in a 6-6 deadlock between the People’s National Movement (PNM) and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP.)

With fresh elections set for December 6, there are a total of 45 candidates contesting the 15 districts – with the PNM and PDP both contesting all districts, the Innovative Democratic Alliance (IDA) contesting 13 and the Class Action Reform Movement and Unity of the People each contesting one district.

Guardian Media spoke to several Lambeau residents ahead of the election to gauge their response to being in a new district.

Former soldier, 58-year-old Stanley Caesar, said he wants to see a new style of politics in Tobago.

“We need for the council, when they get in there, to show themselves more often, not just before the election you show yourself and when you get in there, that’s it and it’s a thing that is a recurring decimal with all of them politicians, they want your vote, you see them and as they get through, you can’t even get time to see them in their office, you have to make an appointment,” Caesar said.

He sent out a warning to the hopeful candidates, saying they will face the political consequence for ignoring their constituents.

Caesar said politicians also need to account to the electorate on the status of their election promises. He said too often, promises go unfulfilled and the electorate is left guessing what went wrong.

“Sometimes you get in there and you not getting the funding to do the things you promise, you have to let we know, say ‘look, I not getting the funding to fulfil my promise’, so we will know exactly how to take it. Not to say he ain’t doing this or that, sometimes you really not getting the funding to come down so they making you look bad.”

Caesar said when constituents are made aware of funding issues, they can lobby those in higher authority to get projects going.

Caesar is also a carpenter and while he waits for his retirement benefits to kick in, he finds work with several of his friends on a regular basis.

He said unemployment and a lack of training facilities for youths are major issues in Tobago. But the problem of Tobagonian youngsters not being willing to work also exists.

“The youths just walking around and smoking, they wouldn’t say let me go learn something from this man, a lil plumbing, or some carpentry, a lil masonry. Even though you tell them, they don’t want to, when you ask them, the first thing they asking is how much you paying, and they weak, cause they ent eating good, so to go on the hot sun and really toil, I don’t think some of them can sustain that,” he said.

Caesar said Lambeau is also plagued with bad roads and poor drainage.

While he does not claim loyalty to any political party, Caesar said the time has come for a change in governance for Tobago.

“It doesn’t matter who win because whoever win, I still have to be under them, so it doesn’t matter but I would like to see change because we living in an ever-changing world, so I would like to see change. One party can’t rule for donkey years till now,” he said.

A few streets away, Emmanuel Toney was waiting to be picked up to go to work.

Like Caesar, he expressed discontent with the conduct of politicians, saying the parties need to do better.

“Instead of you telling this one they is a dog and this was one is this and that, everybody know everybody and at the end of the day, we still have to live with each other and that’s what people don’t realise. Two people from one village going up against each other and you telling them your mother was this, your father was that and then you watching them and saying how you going? I can’t handle that, it is deceitful,” Toney said.

He said he has 15 children and he has always appreciated how closely-knit Tobagonians are.

Toney believes whatever issues affect Lambeau, affect the entire island.

He also complained about high unemployment rates, saying there were many youngsters roaming the streets because they cannot find jobs.

Voters not excited by politicians

A fisherman from the area, who asked to remain anonymous, told Guardian Media he also felt the island was ready for a change.

“Hear what I think—it’s time for somebody else to get a chance, at least if somebody else do stupidness, let we give somebody else a chance,” he said.

He said the community needs a new fishing depot, as the building assigned as a depot was inadequate and currently under repairs.

“Lambeau need a depot about two decades now. It have one down there, they say it cost millions to fix, buy a piece of land on the opposite side and open something proper for Lambeau people, it’s time, Lambeau has the most selling fish in the whole of Tobago.”

In Lowlands, air condition technician Travis Persad said he does not pay much attention to elections or politicians.

“I’m just finding out Lambeau/Lowlands is a new district…I don’t really pay it any mind because they (politicians) does be saying they will do this or that, but they don’t really do anything,” Persad explained.

He too said unemployment was an issue, as he lamented not being able to find a steady job.

“I get one or two PJs (private jobs) from people who know me, it’s a bit hard to not have a regular job but I try to make out. Plenty young people not working right now.”

He said bad roads and building a community centre should be the focus of the candidate who wins the district.

Eighteen-year-old Kimoy Elbourne told Guardian Media this will be the first election she is eligible to cast her vote. She did not seem very excited about the prospect though, saying she would “see if” she would go out to vote.

Like Persad, she lamented the poor state of the roads in Lambeau, noting she would like to see them repaired and more job opportunities for people in her age group.

She said if she decides to vote, her family may very well influence which party gets her vote.

“When my family talking, according to who they talking about and who they feel could do the best for Tobago, I might go with that too. But I haven’t made up my mind yet,” she said.