There are times when even the warmth of your most immediate family cannot do much by way of consolation.

Take Prime Minister Robert Abela, for example. Unlike most of us, but not unlike many of those who wield some sort of power, he has the luxury of surrounding himself with his immediate family as his closest advisers. His father, former president of the republic, is the prime minister’s favourite. Labour have their cardinal, too. His sister-in-law, Alison Zerafa Civelli, mayor of Cospicua, is among the top names in the hat for a second district seat and, together with her sister, Lydia is said to have great influence over the prime minister’s decisions.

So much so that Abela himself has had no issue shuffling the decks to his liking ever since he took power: Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Chris Cardona were cleaned out of Labour’s official structures. Similarly, an alarming number of MPs has been demoted or made to resign, from Silvio Grixti to Justyne Caruana and Rosianne Cutajar; less noisily, the political career of other MPs (Edward Zammit Lewis) is melting away in the solitude and indifference usually afforded to a backbencher, a bit like a slug in a salt pan.

See, there’s a brutal efficiency to Abela’s ways. Over the last two years, he has repeatedly curtailed Ian Borg’s powers, with Joseph Muscat’s super minister losing out on planning and lands to two hated district rivals and being shut out of the race for a top party seat.

But Abela’s efficiency can also be mistaken for paranoia. Another example is the way in which the prime minister has descended upon critics of his policies and projects: his whip lashes at dissenters quickly, be they in Marsascala or Strasbourg; their choice is between holding their posts or holding their peace.

Despite his cocksure posturing and the oft-trumpeted 46,000 vote margin, Abela’s had a torrid January. Incidentally, it comes on the back of the police paying an overdue visit to the house of one Muscat, a former journalist who became prime minister and harnessed huge power, until the assassination of another journalist led to reveal part of the murk in which his administration was actively involved.

Like a king in exile, Muscat plays strongman from the comfort of his contracts while party parrots like Jason Micallef and Manuel Cuschieri have suddenly found a lurid sort of intellectual autonomy. Living cults aside, Abela also faces another threat of mutiny aboard the ‘Red’ October: that from former leadership rival Chris Fearne.

It’s an open secret in Labour circles that factions within Labour are working to see Fearne garner more first-count votes than the prime minister; a humiliation which will have serious repercussions on the Abela family hegemony. Fearne now has to deal with the loyal Carmen Camilleri Ciantar and her €170k contract, almost double what Planning Authority CEO Martin Saliba earns yearly.

Abela, like his father, believes in legacies, that infamous legat which is more of a blueblood tradition than an altruistic mission. It feels surreal that, of all legacies, Abela Jr should choose to trumpet a more ‘social’ Malta with more ‘social’ budgets and more social housing, especially if his much-vaunted ‘continuity’ has meant a steady stream of profits for the rich families of Malta.

Robert Abela has the luxury of surrounding himself with his immediate family as his closest advisers- Wayne Flask

Abela’s real legat, however, will be witnessed and endured by thousands of families in Marsascala, those who don’t own or have no interest in ever owning a yacht or moving to a villa in Żejtun. His obstinacy to proceed with the marina verges on the vindictive, especially as both Robert and George Abela are aware of the residents’ sentiments on the disgusting manner in which our hometown has ‘developed’.

Further up from Robert Abela’s residence, Żonqor Point is effectively owned by Sadeen, who were given a concession to develop a ‘university campus’ on our public spaces with the support of the Muscat administration, mayor Mario Calleja and a handful of businessmen.

Across the bay, metres away from George Abela’s bungalow, Joseph Portelli is preparing to pounce on the remains of the glorious Jerma, with some help from the Planning Authority. The former president, too, must be aware of plans to rezone the bungalow area in Marsascala, with a former Labour official and his wife (who resigned from Labour before Muscat even became prime minister) planning for extra storeys. Their architect is a top Labour cheese.

Despite all this, Abela is keen on imposing the marina, his family’s monstrous legacy, on the families of Marsascala.

That same paranoia, in part, led him to slowly clip the rise of Borg, another devout family man, as many of his less convinced constituents in Dingli will vouch. But the transport minister may have thrown another Molotov in Abela’s burning wheat field by slyly claiming that the process was never halted and that the council never sent him a formal ‘no’.

This means that the marina is back on the agenda, despite the prime minister’s efforts to keep it hushed until after the election. This isn’t the best time for him to chastise Borg, however, whose nightmarish marina is a greasy pole for many powerful families.

The roster of bidders includes the ascending Bonnicis, beneficiaries of endless road-building contracts, just like the Borg (in-Nizz) family who, besides contracts, are good at winning singing contests. Then come other names, known or less: the Magros, the Zammit Tabonas, the Schembris, the Arrigos.

One wonders aloud about other families hidden behind consortia, say, the Abelas and the Cutajars who have interests and restaurants across Marsascala, or others from Mġarr known for their prowess in marine infrastructure.

Abela has spent more time silencing dissenting MPs, candidates and councillors than listening to his electorate. Because this is the legacy under which he will bury his fellow townspeople, voters and neighbours.

When they come knocking at your door, remind your MPs that your family and their quality of life is more important than the Abelas’ dynastic delusions.

Threaten them with your vote. Their legacy is a threat to your family’s future.

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