Once the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration had announced that there would be an official enquiry into the killing of Dr Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980, it was almost certain that neither the announcement nor the enquiry itself would pass without a flurry of public comment. Truth be told there has been less chatter on the matter than might have been anticipated. There has been, however, some measure of comment on the timing of the Commission of Enquiry, In fact, it has been asserted with undisguised bluntness in some quarters that the real motive behind the timing of the COI has less to do with bringing a final closure to a dark chapter in this country’s history after more than thirty years, and more to do with upending an existing political applecart, part of a parliamentary majority that has been causing the government persistent headaches for more than two years.
Of course, the political administration is entirely at liberty not a respond to the question as to why it took so long to convene an enquiry into Dr Rodney’s death, but then it runs the risk of having what ought to be an important national duty being perceived as a political masquerade being staged to suit its own purposes. That, of course, would make a mockery of all of the PPP’s vehement protestations over the death of Dr Rodney. It would also raise disturbing questions about the character of the ruling party.
It can hardly be comforting to the ruling party that even those, including the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), who would want to see closure brought to this matter have misgivings of one sort or another over the Commission of Enquiry. That, of course, does not obviate the importance of an honourable and transparent enquiry into Dr Rodney’s death, though it needs to be stressed that one would not want to see the proceedings tainted by undertones of suspicion to the effect that the COI was designed to suit a particular political purpose.
Again, those who feel that an enquiry is in order would not want the proceedings to be a farce that could easily be shot down on the same day that the Commission announces its findings. That brings us to the decision announced on Saturday by the PNCR not to participate in the COI. It has given no reason for its decision.
At the time of what is widely believed to have been Dr Rodney’s assassination, the then People’s National Congress (PNC) held political office. Moreover, it was at the PNC that accusing fingers have been pointed these past thirty-three plus years. It would be eminently fair to add that nothing of consequence has happened over all of those years to cause those accusing fingers to be pointed elsewhere, so that today the PNCR owes it as much to itself as to the nation to be part of an enquiry that will pronounce, hopefully conclusively and once and for all, on the matter of the killing of Dr Rodney. Otherwise, it will simply have to live with such demons as will continue to derive from not facing a proper enquiry.