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The Patriotic Vine: Cabinet Reshuffle without Leadership

The times in which we live call for national consensus on the future of Grenada. Today’s challenges are about securing resources for our survival, working for progress, and uniting the people. In other words, we are facing a challenge of leadership for the building of our young nation. Hence, there are valid questions to be asked in the context of the presumed importance of the impending Cabinet reshuffle:

What will change for the better when the Cabinet changes? Will consciences change? Will character and conduct change? Will the spirit of corruption change? Will the practice of disrespect for the courts change? Will the management of ministries improve? The reasonably predictable answer to each of these questions is “nothing” or “no”.

The conclusion, therefore, is that the regime is attempting a lame reinvention of itself for the purpose of extracting the last ounce of milk from the ‘Grenadian cow’. A reallocation of the spoils of Office adds nothing to the welfare of the people. In fact, the regime might well be expected to become more efficient at producing poverty! Regrettably!

General Elections produce two immediate consequences: A Parliament and a Cabinet of Ministers, drawn from the very Parliament. References are made in the Constitution to “the business of government” and it provides for an Oath of Office for Ministers. But nothing is said about the character of those who must operate the Government. The character issue has bedeviled performance by politicians in Public Office since 1974, and it was not until 2010 that Tillman Thomas proffered and tested the ‘Gold Standard’ of ‘Character for Cabinet’. He set an extremely high bar and when conduct fell short he relieved and/or removed ministers in the public interest.

Tillman paid a high price as many were not sufficiently enlightened to appreciate that he was acting for the greater good. He could seek to do so because he was a man of high ethical values. His stance was one of the ways by which he sought to answer the question regarding the purpose of Government. Was it to promote the public interest through service to the people or was it to provide a cushy bed for the party leadership and their faithful?

Traditionally, Prime Ministers have applied varying rationales for making changes to the Cabinet and, very often, they have kept their eyes on the optics and their minds on their long-term political interests. Put differently, they were not willing to purge themselves out of Office by dismissing unworthy ministers.

Cabinet reshuffles have been executed by Prime Ministers to correct errors of judgment, to escape the embarrassment of incompetence, to end entrenchment in a portfolio, to inflict punishment and in response to intelligence (security or otherwise) obtained regarding the dealings of a Minister. Unfortunately, the citizens are never told the truth as a reshuffle is not considered to be a feature of public accountability, which should be the case. Therefore, the impending Cabinet changes will purport to address the management of ministries, but will fail on the leadership test.

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This is a virtual certainty as the regime lacks a philosophy of development. The Prime Minister is not offering a constructive response to an emerging national strategic opportunity. Instead, he is happy to tinker at the margins of management and control through a series of tactical manoeuvres. While he is dressing things up in the Botanical Gardens, and while his sheep hear his voice, the unpatriotic scheme he has established for over twenty years comprised of: ‘The Creamers, The Green Food Chain and The Crumbs Economy’, remains locked-in.

The Grenada Cabinet today consists of recently-induced inductees, vengeful conscripts, and the old guard; all of whom have taken on the persona of their leader and the verdict is not good! The Prime Minister cannot call-out, far less correct, corruption in his administration which is now an entrenched way of life.

Recall that it took just three weeks from first meeting the Prime Minister for Resteiner, the jailed fraudster, to be appointed an Ambassador for Grenada! Three weeks!  It took a few days visiting Grenada for Jack Grynberg to leave the Maurice Bishop International Airport with Grenada’s negotiating brief for boundary delimitations with Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela in his briefcase, plus business rights over vast acreages of our maritime territory!  Were those patriotic acts? The thing speaks for itself!

The two players involved are still dominant in the Cabinet! So, the reshuffle will not bring change to the cycles and circles of greed and recklessness. Same goes for farm/feeder roads financed by loans raised with the Kuwaiti Fund for International Development.

This year, the project has been nicely carved-up into two parts and given to two specially-favoured contractors! One of them is a ‘new’ contractor whom the regime has not even introduced to the Grenadian public but is said to be well-known to the Prime Minister.

The reshuffle is not about saving Grenada money; it is not about improving public administration; it is not about planting for progress; it is not about bringing the oil to shore so that Grenadians could see and smell the promise of that economic frontier; and it is not about fresh leadership for the people. The reshuffle is about papering-over the failings of some Ministers and of pretending that none of them were guilty of any wrong-doing depriving people in need.

Sadly, there is no authority to prosecute the case on behalf of the people! The regime, as a political brand, has never traded on the moral high ground! The reshuffle is about salvaging the regime, full stop! Grenada will remain under a leadership lock out!

William Joseph

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