In 1973, within the quiet revolution of tremendous sociopolitical change, there was also turmoil brewing within the political inner circle of the Progressive Liberal Party. Disagreements over policy and progressive action, had begun, almost immediately, after political victory in 1967.
One must remember that, these were men of strong personal convictions, steering a country into uncharted challenges. Their outlook, despite their political affiliations, was influenced by this country’s history. Quite naturally, their ideas on the way forward, for a soon to be independent Bahamas, differed greatly.
While there was unquestionably, broad agreement for independence, there was considerable disagreement as to ways of implementing important policies needed to economically support national independence.
In those crucial several months, leading up to 10th July 1973, there was little idealism.
Far from being a moment of collective unity—a type of national idealism—1973, in sociopolitical terms, became a frenetic race to achieve great change. In this race to history, arguments and political acrimony overtook party, and indeed, national unity.
Prime Minister Pindling snatches immigration portfolio from his Deputy Prime Minister A. D. Hanna
Like a good leader, Prime Minister Lynden Pindling delegated responsibility, but in the end, commanded the final word. After taking his party to three consecutive, successful general elections, Pindling was not afraid to make necessary decisions.
Three of the most controversial areas were immigration, foreign direct investment and finance. One impacted the other.
Bahamianization, on the face of it, should not have been controversial in its ideological objective. However, it quickly became controversial in application.
As the push toward independence continued, it was essential that, ordinary Bahamians, became an unapologetic priority in terms of economic advancement and social mobility.
In 1973, at the accelerated pace needed, to fulfil the ethical imperatives of national independence, there was really only one way to achieve at type of fast tracked economic mobility for ordinary Bahamians.
Foreigners, employed at certain unskilled and semiskilled levels, had to leave, almost immediately, so that the Bahamian, might thrive in his own homeland.
Those employed at specialised positions would to be directed to train Bahamians in that job. Eventually, it was envisioned that there would be a seamless transition from expatriate to Bahamian, at all economic sector levels.
There were angry disputes, within the PLP inner circle, as to the pace and timing of Bahamianization.
Some wanted a more moderate approach, which would appease the sensibilities of nervous foreign direct investors and questioning Bahamians.
Others, were advocating, a near mass expulsion exercise of foreign workers.
Caught between ultra progressive politics and conservative policy, it was reported that Prime Minister Pindling, had actually considered the unthinkable.
Pindling, it was rumoured, actually considered another general election in early 1973 after the general election of September 1972. This was how divided his government was.
It was reported that Pindling, despite getting a clear mandate from the people for independence, needed another majority delivered mandate on Bahamianization.
Monday 29th January 1973 – Hanna not likely to be moved from immigration says newspapers
Home Affairs portfolio, which encompassed immigration, had been under the purview of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur D. Hanna, since a 10th January 1969 cabinet shuffle.
In late January 1973, in an effort to quell news reports of friction between Pindling and his Deputy Prime Minister, the PM’s office assured the press that DPM Hanna, despite a growing unpopularity with important foreign investors, would keep his coveted immigration portfolio.
DPM Hanna supported rustication says news reports
Rustication was an academic term which meant expulsion or suspension which meant being confined to a particular area or location. Applied to immigration, rustication meant broad sweeping powers of government to confine or limit movement.
According to news reports, one of the things that made DPM Hanna unpopular, was his opposition to the recommendation that citizens be allowed to freely leave The Bahamas, after independence.
It was said that DPM Hanna, in order to prevent a capital flight of money out of the country, wanted the government to have broad powers to confine citizens movements to a “specified area” at the discretion of the new independent Bahamian government.
Pindling had to be ruthless for the sake of achieving a successful independence
Less than a month after declaring Hanna’s immigration portfolio was safe, on 22nd February 1973, Prime Minister Pindling demanded and received DPM Hanna’s resignation from immigration and Carlton Francis resignation from finance.
Pindling had to be unsparing of feelings and relationships. He had no choice. Independence was in peril. Not the act or transition, from colony to nation, for that was taking place irregardless.
What was in peril, was the economic life for a new nation after 10th July 1973. If the government had lost the confidence of foreign investors, over fanciful socialist type immigration and finance policies, the domino effect, could have been catastrophic.
Snatching immigration responsibilities from Arthur Hanna and finance from Carlton Francis was in a desperate bid to ensure that the country’s essential economic base did not collapse before independence could successfully be achieved.