There is no pleasure in watching a Government perish. In the Partnership’s case, this journey is in slow motion, organ by organ. Jack’s appointment, then Reshmi’s, signalled that the brain was not fully functional. Section 34 confirmed the ailment. The THA and Chaguanas West losses were just practice for the undertakers, as a more elaborate burial looms. Without mercy killing, we are watching the walking dead.
After Chaguanas West, it’s fitting that Jack Warner’s humiliation of Kamla and her UNC marks a point of no return for the People’s Partnership. The PM knows that the lagahoo can change its shape and form to suit the circumstances, but it remains a beast. The demise of the PM’s independence started with her partnership with Jack and his selection to Cabinet, a decision inevitable but impossible. After FIFA there was no way Jack would squeeze his natural tendencies into the tight-fitting restraints of public office. FIFA, the den of private fiat and greed, is not a recommended stepping stone to island politics, long void of decency, and long suffering from the terminal disease of get rich quick. But for Kamla, there was no choice, and the consequences have followed.
In this zombie politics, the Chaguanas West by-election and its aftermath provide an insight into the bad mental state of the Partnership. The most pathetic by-election sight was the sari-clad UNC candidate, boyfriend on her arm, using their engagement at the Charlieville Shiv Mandir as by-election theatrics. It’s hard to believe political advisors and spin doctors offered this grade F script as a vote puller to a sensible PM and political leader, and got it accepted. But these same quacks have the ears of the PM on everything and they run things. Over three years the damage is visible.
Over three years Jack was just the starting point from which Kamla’s term as PM is marked by three indefensible events which in each case marked her Government for death.
First, in still unexplained circumstances the PM, as head of government and head of the country’s National Security Council, somehow accepted a most porous recommendation to invite His Excellency to rubber stamp the appointment of Reshmi Ramnarine as head of the country anti-narcotics intelligence agency. A typical recruiter’s 30-second glance at the candidate’s resume would have revealed Ms Ramnarine as a non-starter.
The PM’s whisperers managed to convince the multi-degreed former academic, Senior Counsel, and seasoned politician to accept a recommendation that was bound to fail. Most of these whisperers have exited the stage, pushed or sacrificed. But, the PM must live with the long-term effects. Much has been said and written by me on Reshmi because it is not just a bad decision. It is a critical point in the PM’s decline for two reasons.
First, it demonstrated the extent to which the PM was so uninvolved in her own decision-making that she could offer no defence of it when called upon to. And second, Reshmi happened so early in the PM’s term of office that it could have been explained and corrected right away, or it could be denied, defended, and repeated. The second option has been the consistent choice.
One allegation on Reshmi is that the appointment was scripted by a Police Special Branch officer and rubberstamped all the way to the end. That method of madness would become the Partnership Government’s brand, and the PM’s modus operandi.
After Reshmi, and after much study by the PM, state board chairmen and directors were appointed. In quick time, chairmen began falling apart: Caribbean Airlines, once and then again, T&TEC, and altogether at least one-third of all the boards. The PM cannot present a single piece of evidence of due diligence in her selection of state boards. She’s followed the same script that has undone her predecessors: names from party hacks, sycophants, and financiers; a useless bureaucracy at Corporation Sole styled to take whatever names are offered; and, a Cabinet designed to endorse, then defend mercilessly. There have been at least a dozen glaring resume embarrassments for the PM, including a member of the Commission of Enquiry into the events of 1990 and the deputy chairman at the Airports Authority who over-stated his academic qualifications by three university degrees.
The hallmark of good governance is sensible and studied appointments, chaperoned by due diligence. Kamla’s board methodology is as fragile, reckless, and problematic as every other administration’s, demonstrating that even with all her talk, she learnednothing from the politicians she had the privilege of beating in party and general elections. Over three years the initial failure has damaged the Government, but more importantly it provided evidence that the PM is not in command of the decision-making “process”, but is as much a victim of it as the rest of the country.
And third, the PM has been disingenuous and downright irresponsible over Section 34.
To date the origins of this short-lived section are unknown, and the Government knows the consequences of the truth ever coming out. It is unacceptable in 2013 that the origins of a clause in legislation enacted into law, so corrosive that it had to be expunged in hasty parliamentary sessions, cannot be explained. The People’s Partnership will be punished at the polls for its sickening attitude on Section 34.
Section 34 says that thuggery takes place on the floor of the legislature without consequences. Section 34 was no more than a prison break, concocted amidst the stained mahogany of the chambers. So severe is the Section 34 damage to the country’s psyche, its consequences should play out in the dank walls of a prison cell. The country is likely to have that in mind whenever it votes.
That voting opportunity could come in a few weeks and the zombies cannot withstand another round of election pounding.
* Clarence Rambharat is a lawyer and a university lecturer