The Prime Minister should have kept quiet her intention to shuffle the Cabinet until she was quite sure that she was ready to execute the move. The early transmission of her decision to shuffle, when clearly the process was still being ironed out and the subsequent announcement of a delay in the implementation of the plan can be used to support the view that we are still bombarded with the politics of distraction. There are far too many important issues of public importance that call for resolution, redress or remedy and instead of focusing on these matters, the public is sidetracked discussing an impending Cabinet shuffle that changes complexion on a daily basis. There are regular denials by the Government of the accusations that its administration is in disarray, not fully functioning and yet to prove its ability to deliver good governance. And that is in fact the irony, because the Prime Minister has promoted the impending shuffle, recently referred to as a reconfiguration, as a means to enable her government to operate at an optimum, which in itself suggests that there is merit in the indictments brought against her government.
Out in the cold
Since the indication that there would be yet another change to the current configuration, there has been a noticeable increase in the visibility of ministers who were previously dormant. There appears to be a mad rush to show that their ministries have been busy delivering on the prom-ises made in the 2010 manifesto. While the criteria to assess the performance of each minister is lacking in detail, most ministers realise that performance and popularity will play major roles. Also in the mix will be whether the removal of a minister or the downsizing of his or her ministry will result in the withdrawal of support from a particular sector or group that is backing the particular individual. And while some ministers such as Jack Warner have nothing to worry about because they are on target and perhaps have even exceeded expectation, there are some who can only be described as major disappointments who ought to be shuffled out with immediate effect. But the past conduct of our caring and generous Prime Minister has shown that she is not one to leave her out-of-favour lambs to the wolves. Those who have been relieved, for whatever reason, from their Cabinet posts in the last shuffle, have been the beneficiaries of appointments that carry some degree of status.
It would be difficult to deny that we are a society that quickly jumps to conclusions without knowing all the facts. We continue to operate within the parameters of a political divide that seriously compromises our ability to rationalise and analyse issues independently, critically and objectively. Those at the top have to accept responsibility for encouraging the citizenry to blindly follow leaders and to readily accept decisions without calling for proper justification, accountability or transparency. We are living in a world of sound bites which caters for glib politicians who are charlatans of Olympic standards. And to make matters worse, some ministers consider themselves worthy of gold medal brilliance, to the extent that their arrogance has overtaken their intellect. To this end, we are subject to little dictators who are unprepared to listen to the voice of reason. Thankfully, the authoritarian approach is not the style of the entire membership of the Cabinet, so we live in hope that the reasoned few could speak sense into the hard heads of their pompous peers. But that perhaps is wishful thinking.
Ready to move
Right after the last general election, the population was ready to move forward in the direction of the promised new politics that promoted the hallmarks of accountability and transparency. To date, the style of politics we experience is best descried as “same old, same old” and so shuffling the existing pack without removing the jokers will be of little benefit for a country with diminishing faith in the words of politicians. The Prime Minister knows that she enjoys widespread popularity which has enabled her to miraculously escape the dire consequences of political errors in judgment that would otherwise have toppled a government. That the stars have been lined in her favour for quite some time may account for the political luck that has been on her side, but this too will not last forever and much has to be done to deserve the trust and confidence of the public. If those at the top continue to mislead the Prime Minister into a false sense of security that her government is loved by the overwhelming majority, then she too will have to be ready to move.