Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Austin 'Jack' Warner, the controversial former national security minister of Trinidad and Tobago, has warned that his former boss, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, will not be re-elected in 2015 if she fails to rid her government of a group of ministers in her Cabinet who he claims are "corrupt".
Warner, a former FIFA vice-president who also served as minister of works and infrastructure under Persad-Bissessar, has faced finger pointing for some time with allegations of corruption in his political and soccer life, but he has never been prosecuted criminally.
He left the Cabinet after a big public fall-out with other members but retained his Chaguanas West seat in a by-election.
Now, Warner is predicting that Persad-Bissessar's government will lose the general elections constitutionally due by 2015.
"Based on the current configuration of her government, Kamla will not survive 2015 even if she paved the streets with gold. I can't put it no further than that," said Warner.
"You have to understand that this country reached a state where it's almost ungovernable. It's on auto-pilot, where nobody is in charge of anything.
"There is an absence of leadership here and therefore, I am saying that what you saw in the Jamaican situation (where 13 Jamaicans were denied entry into Trinidad) is merely one aspect of the totality of things as they happen here. Don't take it in isolation," stated Warner during an interview at his Sunshine newspaper offices in Arouca, several kilometres from Port-of- Spain.
"There is a total disconnect between the government and the people and among the various ministers. Everybody is doing and saying their own thing and contradicting each other," he stated.
Blaming "mismanagement, bloated bureaucracy, wastage, and corruption" as key indicators of the loss of governmental control, Warner noted that the Patrick Manning administration was criticised for the size of its Cabinet, which was 22 ministers.
"Now, we have 29 ministers. We have a serious debt crisis, and we are in serious trouble."
WARNER NOT BITTER
Warner dismissed claims that he was being critical of the Persad-Bissessar administration because he was bitter.
"Look here, she didn't leave me. I left her. I went back to the people. She fought me tooth and nail in her backyard and I beat her," he said, boasting that his newspaper was the number-one weekly in the country.
He said the newspaper had given him a new constituency and he could say things which he could not say before.
"They could say what they want of me. But nobody could say I have ever put my finger in the till of any ministry where I was. Nobody could say that I have ever used my office to get any tax-free loans to buy cars and sell it two years later and make hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Nobody can say I ever collected a salary as minister or member of parliament. I gave my salary to charities in Chaguanas West; to non-governmental organisations; I offered scholarships to go to universities, and I give to individuals for heart surgeries, and so on," declared Warner.
He said at the best of times, Persad-Bissessar's party will not control more than 15 Indo-based seats, while the main opposition party, the People's National Movement, will control no more than 16 seats, all Afro-based.
"And, therefore, there is a scramble for 10 seats and those 10 seats are all along the East-West corridor. And two or three possibly are in different parts of the country. And that is where my party, the Independent Liberal Party, is trying to make a difference because whoever controls those seats will control the government," he stated.
Warner said while he was very aware of the death rate of third parties in the Caribbean, that would change in the near future as third parties would determine who held power in the twin-island republic.