Friday, June 05, 2009

I Am Struggling

Ministers Doing As They Like… Even the Unelected Ones!!!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D


Years ago when I started this Blog, my intention was not only to support the UPP – but to hold their feet to the fire too. I was determined not to be one of those blind supporters who make excuses for bad leadership, incompetent governance, poor decision making or, at the very worse, corruption and malfeasance in public office.

Today… right now… I am at a crossroads. I am here at this nexus because I am struggling.

Why am I struggling?

I am losing confidence. I am losing patience. I am losing my respect for many of the ministers. Correction. I have lost respect for several of the ministers. And for many others, my respect is waning… like a candle with the wick shortening… the flame slowing dying.

I am struggling.

The recent public disunity, publicly displayed by that minister who attempted to humiliate the political leader, and who got his way… even after sprinkling aspersions on his colleagues… is one example of the many things that are causing me to struggle.

The public infighting among ministers, the veiled and unveiled threats to slither over to the other side, is prompting me to re-examine the reasons why I support the UPP.

And… the hundreds of little smoky rumors that keep popping up about corrupt behaviors… are enough to give me pause. Where there is smoke – there is fire. I don’t buy the reaction from UPP die-hards that this is just ALP propaganda. I believe that some on the UPP side have contributed enough to stoke the fires.

And now… the infighting and the conflict and the dislike (bordering on downright hatred among them) has erupted into concrete and visible actions by at least one minister. One minister heaping disrespect on another. One junior minister… not a member of parliament… given a ministry as a sympathetic gesture by a sympathetic Prime Minister… has rewarded his leader with a gross action of disrespect on his colleague and senior minister – and on the Prime Minister who put  him there.

What in the world am I talking about?

Well… this might never hit the news… so I am exposing it right here.

A Junior Minister has kicked a department of a senior minister out of the building where the staff is located.

Now… a junior minister … an unelected minister … but… yes an appointed Junior Minister who reports to… or who is supposed to report to the a senior Minister… an elected minister…   This junior unelected minister has unilaterally decided to throw out a department which he no longer supervises from a building in which he is housed. And he has done this in defiance of the direct orders from his senior Minister… the Minister who supervises him… And the senior Minister personally advised him… directed him… that he could not take any such action.

But he prevailed in that he has not only defiantly decided to throw the Department out of the building where he occupies the second floor… He personally took it on himself to go down to the first floor and pack up their things… disconnect their phones and computers… and internet and told them to get going.

The problem is that they have nowhere else to go. A whole department of Government. Packed up… displaced… told to get out of the building which the Government pays for and where they have been housed for over four years.

The irony is that until 10 weeks ago, this was his department… a department which he supervised, dictated to… and benefited from their high profile policy initiatives. But yesterday, he threw them out of the building which he shared with them.

Why? Who knows? Some people think that he has a grudge against his senior minister… who the rumor mill says that he partly blames for the connection to one of Antigua’s piratical power players. (I will write on this in an upcoming article – watch out for it).

Whatever his reason, this junior minister is out of control. He is displaying a side of him that only those close to him are rumored to know: Young and vindictive; Sully and unresponsive when critiqued; Pious on a certain day and cynically obnoxious on every other day after that; Vengeful, spiteful and resentful; passive aggressive; and in many hidden ways… according to those who know – praetorian, payolan, and liking and organizing perqusites…

Whatever the case, this is dirty… dirty politics within the Government – one colleague on another… one person bent on wreaking vengeance for some unspoken perceived offence against him…

To punish a department… to curtail their ability to serve the people of Antigua and Barbuda… to prevent them from doing what they are paid to do… to kick them out of a building he doesn’t own or control… and to do so himself… demonstrates and signifies a man out of control.

Indisciplined. Uncompliant. Disregard for the primacy of the people’s business over his own ruffled feathers. Dereliction of his duty to be a responsible minister of government… and so irresponsible. A revolt against his Senior Minister and against the Prime Minister. Unruly and rebellious.

Childish and immature.

And the scary thing is… this case… is just the latest of a lot of skirmishes and undercover battles that are being fought throughout the UPP.

So let me end with a question… Where is the leadership? Who is keeping these Ministers in check? Who is captaining the ship?

Mr. Prime Minister – your visible and obvious leadership is needed! Right now! Forget about democracy in Cabinet. You need to lay down the law… or let some heads roll. Or probably let some heads roll and then lay down the law!

If you need help… there are thousands of Antiguans and Barbudans who are willing and ready and able to step up to the plate to do whatever needs to be done.

The ship is not heading in the right direction! You are the Captain… you need to dis-appoint some of your mates… we need steady hands on the wheel… not inflated egos.

Mr. Prime Minister take charge now!

If not, this ship will sink. You are already losing members. You are losing passengers. You are losing supporters. You might even be losing friends…

You need to publicly, decisively and emphatically take charge. Now!

If not…