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It’s an ill wind…

It’s an ill wind…

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Old sayings and proverbs often take on meaning in our modern world. Take the one which says “It’s an ill wind which blows nobody good”, meaning that out of even the worst of situations good can arise. At first it seems difficult to fathom, but the course of events often bears out the veracity of this proverb.

It would be difficult and often misconstrued to term the three-week absence of Prime Minister Gonsalves, accompanying his wife for medical treatment abroad, as any “ill wind”, yet it must be acknowledged that so massive is his presence that it will be seriously missed. Can we benefit from this enforced absence?

In spite of his much-touted promotion of the physical and mental capabilities of this descendant of Portuguese indentured servants, PM Gonsalves is but a mortal, subject to human limitations like the rest of us. He has been going non-stop for a considerable period now, often beyond the call of what should be normal duty.

It must be palpably clear that he is in need of rest, physically and mentally. He is the oldest Prime minister that we have had to hold office, and by far its busiest and most hard-working, but in spite of all his achievements, he needs a break, a respite from the myriad of mountainous problems confronting the country. One can only hope that he would take the three-week break not only to give his wife much-needed support but to relax and refresh himself, leaving the local intervention only when it is necessary.

This would allow for a more balanced and less-personalised approach to current national issues. In the current debates around coronavirus handling, national policies to which there is disagreement by this or that organisation is often put under the umbrella of “he” meaning the Prime Minister. This personalisation, whether of the PM or other prominent national personalities, political or otherwise, leads to unfair attacks not just on their persons but on their families as well which should never be condoned.

On the other hand it should provide an opportunity for reflection on the part of the Prime Minister himself. In spite of having perhaps the most capable team of Ministers, the PM has been at the centre of every discussion and interaction.

This has undermined his role as an arbiter; say between the Teachers’ Union and the Ministry of Education, or between the Ministry of Transport and the bus drivers association, VINTAS. He has put himself at the centre of the issues from Day One, so it is difficult, in case of an impasse to refer to him; it is like from Caesar to Caesar.

Could we take the opportunity of his overwhelming presence to adopt a more balanced approach to our differences on national issues, calling on the obvious impressive intellect and skills of PM Gonsalves for intervention when we cannot find solutions? Or are we to saddle ourselves, to our detriment, with everything piled on the overloaded plate of the Prime Minister?