Mirror for cabinet maker
To make a change, the Michael Jackson song goes, start with the man in the mirror.
Whether it is a change, “re-configuration”, “re-alignment” or major cabinet reshuffle, early sociologist Charles Cooley also advised, start with “the Looking-glass Self”, because your decisions reveal much — your preferences, strengths, abilities, even your weaknesses. In short, they showcase what you are to the world.
The Prime Minister ended the guessing game on Friday, explaining that she had decided on her new cabinet after a consultative process. Overall, she is to be congratulated for attempting a major reshuffle with players most of whom have been minors.
In this instance, having pruned the dead wood and attracted new talent to her Cabinet, she appeared decisive.
Two years in office, her leadership style has been what the literature calls “transactional” — she’s a broker of the daily stuff; an artificial figure, preened and packaged for staged events.
Those in the know say she fits into the “Amiable Leadership” category of persons, who project the helpful image, extending and demanding loyalty, but craving positive attention, with a need to be warmly regarded.
Under the microscope, what has her decision, so far, revealed? The most significant was the transfer of Jack Warner from Works to the National Security Ministry.
One would have expected that the Prime Minister, as a newly appointed Senior Counsel, would have “advised” herself against his appointment — given Mr Warner’s subterranean battles with FIFA, in which he emerges occasionally to snipe at the world football leadership; also, his ongoing feud with the Soca Warriors in the local courts; and the matter before the Privy Council over UNC campaign financing.
In addition, the Director of Public Prosecutions is yet to make a determination on allegations of bribery at the CONCACAF meeting at the Hyatt.
I believe that the PM is aware that it takes only one practice to start a convention, and she does not need to be “advised” of the dangers inherent in such an action.
Cabinet decisions create precedents which others tend to follow, and practised long enough, they acquire respectability and sanctity for generations to come. Cabinet conventions, we should be aware, are among the bases of our constitutional system, and are fundamental principles in law.
Further, there is the damning condemnation from Warner’s nemesis, international journalist Andrew Jennings to the BBC that Trinbago, practises “smelly politics” and it “is a disgrace in the eyes of the world”.
Still further, there are unanswered questions surrounding Warner’s role in FIFA’s World Cup decisions, which allegedly offended authorities in the US and UK.
As Minister of National Security, he is required to meet their representatives on regional security matters. Of interest here is the position that the UK is likely to adopt, particularly since it is already offended by the Government’s decisions to cancel the $2 billion OPV contracts.
So why did the PM re-assign Warner? She claims that as a man of action, he is best suited to tackle our most pressing problem, crime. Although the PM appears to have stirred the pot, one should be warned that her “Midnight Cabinet” is still in the kitchen.
Warner, elated at the moment, should be “advised” to remember the adages: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” and “The sting is in the tail”.
Also of interest is the shift of Devant Maharaj to the Food Production Ministry. In the Transport Ministry, there were allegations of ministerial excess and intolerance. Thousands of acres are soon to be distributed by the Food Production Ministry. As the new Minister, Maharaj should best be “advised” by the PM that the distribution is a political tinderbox in which there should transparency, in every detail.
The “twins” — Ministers Emmanuel George and Ganga Singh — are both in the cabinet, at last. It is said that leaders tend to select persons in their own image, which results in an eventual overlap of skills on a team.
The members of the last cabinet were heavily criticised for their lack of initiative, and absence of vision. In addition many were not trusted, and their communication skills were said to be weak.
There were charges of “skilled incompetence”, so I believe that the PM should have been better “advised” to have extended her talent search.
She has to be praised, however, for attracting Larry Howai, one of the country’s most successful bankers, to her cabinet.
But his departure from FCB now raises questions about his replacement and the bank’s direction.
Also of interest is the demotion of Minister Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, who was poised to make her challenge, within the TOP, for the position of Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly in the next elections.
In a cabinet change, one would have expected that the Prime Minister would have seized the opportunity to appoint a new Attorney General, given the series of public criticisms directed at that office.
Well, it depends on the mirror.
• Keith Subero, a former Express news editor, has since followed a career in communication