Vaz - Untouchable bully or sacrificial lamb?

Published: Thursday | August 23, 2012 Comments 0
Daryl Vaz
Daryl Vaz
Gary Spaulding
Gary Spaulding

By Gary Spaulding

DARYL VAZ - the second-generation politician whose father, Douglas Vaz, pulled no punches in his heyday as he squared off more than once with the might of former prime minister and leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Edward Seaga - seems unable to heed past mistakes that appear to be the bane of the politician's existence in public life.

Daryl's father was embroiled in an infamous public row with Seaga in the 1980s when he either resigned or was booted as minister of industry and commerce.

Douglas Vaz claimed then that he had resigned as a government minister, even as Seaga declared that the senior Vaz was fired.

He later walked away with Bruce Golding, then JLP chairman, to form the National Democratic Movement, and it was public knowledge that there was no love lost between Daryl and Seaga.

The private life of the younger Vaz, who sided with Bruce Golding and was rewarded with a senior ministerial position after Golding returned to the JLP, has been even more turbulent than that of his father's.

Like father, the son is also known to be a faithful friend to his allies through thick and thin.

SHOCKING ALLEGATIONS

In the aftermath of this week's ruling by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, some JLP bigwigs have admitted that they were stunned into silence after news emerged that Daryl has been hauled before the Corporate Area Criminal Court on a bribery charge.

A senior member recalled that only a month or so ago, Vaz was vociferous in his call for the axing of Michael Troupe as deputy mayor of Montego Bay, when he was arrested for alleged involvement in the lottery scam in St James.

The charge against Troupe was subsequently thrown out. It is left to be seen whether Vaz will fare as well.

As it stands, Vaz has met the wrong end of the stick in most of the battles he waged for friends and allies in both political and business arenas.

Vaz has tussled in the public domain with journalists, rival politicians and political colleagues and earned himself a name as an aggressive protagonist. He has had run-ins with the police before and was accused of assisting his brother in a Customs-related revenue matter.

NO RETREAT

He initiated verbal tussles with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, while she was opposition leader, and other members during sittings of Parliament and was not known to retreat in the face of public criticisms.

In the height of the tribulations of former Prime Minister Bruce Golding's arising out of the ill-fated Manatt-Dudus issue in 2009-2011, Vaz stood unyielding beside Golding, his declared confidant, and soaked up much of the public pressure.

Vaz's public row with noted attorney-at-law Harold Brady may have dug a hole for the beleaguered Golding, but the outspoken politician was steadfast to the end.

As the Manatt-Dudus controversy raged, Vaz alienated many in his party. He defiantly took on former General Secretary Karl Samuda, considered to be one of Golding's nemeses, in a bid to oust him from the influential position. Samuda was largely credited for the JLP's victory in the 2007 polls.

While Vaz succeeded in forcing Samuda out, when he mounted a challenge on the veteran politician, he sacrificed his coveted deputy treasurer position that he relinquished to fight for the post of general secretary.

CHANGING FORTUNES

Vaz, who had earned a reputation for procuring funds for the cash-strapped JLP in the lead-up to the 2007 general election, was left empty-handed, as he was defeated by Aundré Franklin in the general secretary race.

Down but not out, Vaz, without an office, turned his attention to supporting Golding and the JLP in a bid to salvage the diminishing fortunes of both.

By late 2011, Golding's already tenuous popularity had waned to the point where he opted out of the political landscape to the glee of many in the party but not Vaz, who stayed in a bid to salvage some of the rapidly waning popularity.

Vaz's efforts could save neither his friend Golding nor the JLP. Golding resigned as prime minister of Jamaica and leader of the JLP, which lost the election in a landslide in December 2011.

Since his party's loss and his relegation to just another member of parliament, Vaz has remained in the news.

Vaz has been embroiled in legal scrapes with attorney-at-law David Rowe. Both men have sued each other for defamation.

Now, it appears that Vaz is facing the most serious test of his life. If found guilty of corruption charges, he may have to fork out $1 million or languish for two years in one of our prisons - all in the cause of friendship.

Gary Spaulding is a veteran journalist. Send comments to columns@gleanerjm.com.

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