Sun | Sep 24, 2017

What Holness must confess

Published:Sunday | October 25, 2015 | 10:00 AM

Up to last week, my Sunday opinionator colleague Ronald Mason argued that Opposition Leader Andrew Holness was unfit to be prime minister because of the constitutional crisis he created with the senatorial presigned resignations. I don't agree.

I think that, ultimately, Mr Holness's behaviour, although not exemplary, doesn't rise to the level of rendering him unfit for office. And if it did, it would mean he was unfit to be MP as well.

Basically, there are some legal questions that are genuinely open to interpretations, and we don't know what the law is until the judges tell us what it is. I believe the presigned letters fall into this category of legal dispute. There were solid arguments for the other side that a man could hold in good faith and without being disingenuous.

Quick reminder: Mr Holness obtained presigned resignation letters from most of his Senate appointees. I believe not everyone signed the letter put under their nose, and it still would be good if this were exposed as a neat signal of who is bwoy and who is man.

The supposed concern was that one of his appointees could go rogue and do the right thing (vote for the CCJ). I say 'supposedly' because the letters sure came in handy to victimise Williams and Tufton because of a political fallout having zero to do with the CCJ. Williams and Tufton should tek sleep mark death, but that's a different column.

 

publicly smearing himself

 

After being sued for resigning the two, readers will recall that Holness twisted and turned on how to deal with it, at one point even publicly smearing himself in sackcloth and ash, only to change tune when outside the Church.

It didn't look good, but I can't totally blame him for backsliding faster than Michael Jackson. Backsliding after a church conversion is part of the Christian drama.

What this affair revealed about Holness' personality and leadership style is for each man to judge. For me, it goes, along with the other accusations of pettiness, dullness, and general 'cyaan manage de wuk', to whether he is the best man for the job. It seems he contrived to remove a potential challenger while invoking principle as a mere convenience. It was a poor decision, but as the saying goes, to see a man's character, give him power.

I do have a concern about Mr Holness' suitability, which, I believe, deserves thorough ventilation. It has to do with Dudus. Remember? When for 10 months the Government of Jamaica set aside our commitment to eradicating drug and gun trafficking, threw the whole country into a security crisis, devalued the Jamaican passport, reputation and brand globally, and all the while talked a bag of rubbish like dem did waan tek people fi eediat. It was done to defend the 'human rights' of one man who just happened to be the acknowledged don of Tivoli Gardens in the then PM's constituency, and leader of the Shower Posse, known as a highly organised criminal gang and part-time fearsome political mobilisers.

This impasse threw the country into chaos. Security personnel were on alert that their civilian superiors were either utterly compromised, or prone to it. Because one of the few iron-clad rules of life is that 's**t flows downhill', all the lawlessness and madness shortly leaked right out of Vale Royal down into West Kingston. Scores of citizens lay dead in West Kingston, and the entire country stood billions poorer and mired in blood.

When eventually caught, Dudus refused to even challenge his extradition, and wasted no time pleading guilty. Remember his words: "I'm pleading guilty because I am." So truthfully, I begin from the premise that anyone who was involved in creating that national and international debacle, or sat in a prime position to question it but did not, has no place in governing this nation and is unfit for public office.

Where was Mr Holness in all this? I don't know, but I would genuinely like to find out.

Surely, the Cabinet discussed the matter. The public was discussing little besides this slow-moving, exquisitely choreographed car crash. And there was no shortage of people, including friends of the JLP, saying "Hold on! What are you doing here? Unnu mad?"

Voters had put supposedly intelligent people in Government to guide and protect them. One such duty, in the event 'de Driva' was starting to steer erratically and careen across the highway as if he just drank a crate of Guinness, is to at least tap him on the shoulder and say: "Ahhhmmmm ... what yuh doin'?" There was no excuse for failing to intervene. And perhaps Holness did! I've just never heard about it.

And what about in the inner sanctum of the party? I cannot believe that these issues weren't discussed and argued about exhaustively. It must have been turned upside down and inside out, looked at from every angle. Views must have been solicited, ideas must have differed, and debaters must have clashed.

What was Mr Holness saying in these debates? What was his view about the direction of the Government?

The Senate resignation letter fiasco is small potatoes. It's Dudus we need to know about.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.