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Sun worshippers, copy books not leadership


by Dr. Richard Cox

In a recent piece I berated some members of the Opposition for poor performances in the House. Big mistake! I was almost put to the sword but escaped with a good tongue-lashing.

Now, while I understand some view my position as criticism of their party, I am unrepentant, as my perceived bias against the NDP was nought but an incorrect interpretation. I have one side, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. {{more}}

Indeed my conclusion on these members comes after four years of observing their ineffectiveness. I hasten to add that I am not demanding that they curse and be insolent, as some of these “honourables” seem always prepared to do. And further, that I am equally convinced that some of our ministers of government should be employed as kindergarten teachers, manual labourers and the like as these are their proper stations in life.

The calls do come for me to throw my hat in the ring. I have however been kept in check by the wise counsel, “man know thyself” and so have resisted. It is not about my job and love for the bright lights of “foreign.” Manoeuvring a small nation through this tempest called globalisation is something that will challenge the best, and I cannot knowingly mislead a whole nation, betray the voters’ trust, and through my ignorance and incompetence help to further impoverish my own people. This country needs, now more than ever, a team of leaders who are thoroughly qualified, committed and determined that, come what may, the dream of a brighter tomorrow for all Vincentians would be realised. I am surely not in that class, at least not yet, and one should not jump in the ocean if one can’t swim. Pure and simple.

We need a team for the times

Running government is not a fete-match in which everybody plays, as skill and talent are not prerequisites. St. Vincent and the Grenadines will go broke with political leaders locally popular but with skeletal intelligence as regards the science of governance. We need more, much more than that! As Owen Arthur puts its, we need a team for the times. Yes, a team, not an I-man and bunch of sun-worshippers and certainly not one encyclopaedia and 14 copybooks. But a team of properly trained people who understand the issues not only at the national level and can see the need for a road or a playing field. But people who can see beyond the horizon of their little district and appreciate that SVG is operating in an extremely challenging international environment. Politicians who can for example appreciate the significance of the Barbados Plan of Action to our development and play their part in ensuring its realisation through all the relevant international instruments and arrangements, be these the Climate Convention, the World Trade Organisation, the implementation of the FTAA or the reformation of the United Nations.

Examples are people like Mike Browne in education, qualified and genuinely committed to what he was doing. Arnhim Eustace with his tremendous technical experience, knowledge of economic management and his genuine wish for a better SVG. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, with his workhorse approach; his leadership from in front; his capacity to engender international respect and his love for country is always a given.

System must change

The days of making a schoolteacher or a community activist a politician and then a minister of government simply because he could win a popularity contest at the polls must be over and done with once and for all, or this country is doomed. I am not here belittling the teacher and teaching or the role of the community activist. We all have our part to play in the society and that of the teacher and the community activist are always truly fundamental. But in the same way someone of reason would not take the best lawyer in the world to perform a simple medical operation, so too governance of our country cannot be put in the hands of schoolteachers and community activists, even if they were head teachers and presidents of successful NGOs.

And it’s not all about degrees, for capital education minus common sense makes only for a presidential bush as regards leadership. And bush is simple that, bush, presidential or otherwise. My considered opinion is that in today’s world, a Teachers College certificate and ten years headship at a primary school are inadequate as regards effective management of a country facing the challenges we do. The same holds as regards the youth leader or any who becomes a politician primarily because he is idolised in his community. It is time we move away from this “love-affair politics” and elect people really capable of service and leadership at the level of national government. We must stop excellent professionals in their fields from making fools of themselves by becoming dummy politicians and worse still second eleven ministers sanctioning the rape of this country. If we don’t, we will continue with the I-man or encyclopaedia approach to governance, which is a sure recipe for disaster. To my mind, the expensive Ottley Hall circus was inevitable for Rolla realised the Cabinet was a pack of clowns with big noses and no brains.