Disingenuously masked as a reconfiguration of the Cabinet and State boards, this is the firing of John Sandy and Jack Warner's redemption or demise. Warner's baggage deserved closer examination before handing him unrestricted access to private lives and public institutions. In failing to do so the PM's judgment must be questioned.
Standing out in the Partnership's two years is massive resources poured into investigating alleged corruption under the PNM. Those investigations are important but no lead player is still involved in public functions of trust and responsibility. Jack Warner is. The most urgent investigation and determination should be of allegations made against Warner, a senior Government Minister and chairman of the dominant coalition party. Warner's appointment as Minister of National Security while these allegations remain unresolved could be the proverbial nail in the Partnership's coffin.
The word antithesis comes to mind with the PM's reconfiguration of Cabinet. She has abandoned hopes for consolidation and reduction. There is already a generous overlap of bureaucracy in government, and much redundancy and unknowns. This breakup of ministries will deepen the mysteries of doing business with the State. It will take Ministers time to figure out their portfolios and the boards will experience delays as new appointments take hold. This is not a simplification of government; this is the arbitrary parceling of State bureaucracy, without regard for what happens next.
Mr Warner's appointment, itself an antithesis, is a big political gamble. In Sandy's famous words it makes the State of Emergency and curfew look like a tea party. Warner will oversee policies for the capture and prosecution of criminals. His work will form part of the attack on bribery and corruption, kickbacks, grease-hand and graft. Most significantly Warner will command the State's capacity to spy, snoop and collect and analyse personal information. Not everyone feels comfortable with Warner in Cabinet. Warner as Minister of National Security raises deeper concerns.
The biggest concern is that this could be further confirmation that along this Government's path, good governance is overtaken by political survival and personal enrichment. Meritocracy, slain by PNM and UNC politics is buried by Partnership carving up. For voters of 2010 the carcass of hope is gone; the stench of defeat lingers and Warner's problem is that too much is unresolved.
Amongst other things Warner remains associated with unpaid bonuses for the celebrated national football team; untidy accounting for funds provided to the World Cup campaigns; allegations regarding donations meant for Haitian earthquake victims; and more recently the ownership of the FIFA-owned and funded Centre of Excellence. The international media has not forgotten Mr Warner. Apart from Reuters' and the BBC's tongue-in-cheek announcement of Warner's new appointment, last month the UK media referred to Lasana Liburd's news website wired868.com which published documents linking the Warner family in a personal way to the Centre of Excellence. Liburd, the former Express journalist who famously broke the Simpaul Travel/World Cup 2006 ticket scandal over the 2005 Christmas season referred to an $11m mortgage held by two Warner family companies, Renraw and CCAM, and secured by the FIFA-owned property.
Of all the people involved in allegations against Warner, he deserves to have them investigated and his innocence established. At a minimum, both Warner and the PM should have an interest in determining that nothing in Warner's FIFA and personal dealings makes him unsuitable for Cabinet. The public's agony is the fact nothing is happening and Warner, his party and his leader simply press on. The public also has an interest in the details of Warner's relationship and financial dealings with Chuck Blazer, his long-time CONCACAF colleague and a man once described by a Manhattan judge as being "without credibility". These matters, above any other investigation consuming taxpayers' resources, deserve priority.
Unless we answer the Warner allegations, the country would question the lessons of working hard and playing by the rules. We will ask about fair-play and the lessons of consequences. We will ask how does one defend the rule of law and reward those who dwell in its grey areas and lacunas. What about all those parables and tales we share with our children about fairness, goodness, decency, morality and the triumph of good over evil? How will we ever roll back criminal attitudes, the attraction of crime and the transfusion of lawlessness into youthful blood, when we place the country's biggest political question mark at the top of the enforcement of law? Warner's baggage must be examined.
As part of the population celebrates Mr Warner's appointment, another part tries to understand our broken confidence and vulgarity. This Cabinet reconfiguration is about a lack of courage and unwillingness to destroy the things which erode our values. The moral compass, last examined by Arthur NR Robinson in 2002, is abandoned. Now we have lost our innocence. The door has been opened to shameless political appointments at WASA and the First Citizens bank. Another failed senator is tossed onto diplomatic turf. Others could follow. New State-board appointments will also follow, all with the usual lack of diligence.
For those who stand for goodness, civility and good governance, Warner's new appointment without exoneration is an act of Partnership thuggery. The rest of the PM's changes are mere endnotes. Naipaul says in The Mimic Men: "It takes courage to destroy, for confidence in one's ability to survive is required". The PM is making deals for survival but of all the nails being lined up for the coffin.
• Clarence Rambharat is a lawyer and university lecturer