Wed | Dec 19, 2018

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Fowl-fights and foul fights

Published:Thursday | July 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Our politicians have been engaged in an unrelenting cass-cass across party lines from time immemorial. Their myopic and oftentimes vitriolic behaviour has occasionally served the public good - as in unearthing scandalous activities on the other side of the political divide [never theirs]. However, lest you think otherwise, such revelations have never been about the people's right to know: political self-interest remains the overriding motive. While such incessant fowl-fights are an inevitable part of politics, the gutter level to which some of our politicians have stooped is inexcusable, as too is the ensnaring of innocent bystanders in the mudslinging.

 

The 'gutterization' of Jamaican politics

 

The gutter-type behaviours entrenched in our politics have deterred many a right-thinking Jamaican from entering the arena, much to Jamaica's disadvantage. Such persons, assuming they were able to withstand peer and party pressures and the warped expectations of segments of the electorate, would no doubt have drained the swamp. Alas, the swamp and its foul odours flourish, unfettered and unchanged.

Anyone who throws their hat into the political arena does so knowing that should the opposing party form the government, they should not expect any consideration for appointments to public office, regardless of their expertise and what they have to offer the country. A just so the gutter politics run.

It is one thing when the fowl-fight is such that the only casualties are politicos, but no war, whether of words or weapons, can rage ad infinitum without causing collateral damage. The underhandedness which characterises some of the utterances and actions of our politicians has, and continues to inflict serious collateral damage on our citizenry.

 

Foul fights

 

The recent brouhahas surrounding various agencies which were or remain under the ministerial responsibility of Dr Andrew Wheatley have made clear that politicos, in their quest for one-upmanship, will spare no one. The resultant public exposÈs and battering of individuals employed to these agencies are quite frankly offensive.

These recent assaults have sent a resounding message to persons who either hold office in the public sector or aspire to such offices, that message being that they are not off-limits to political fowl-fighting. Dependent on when persons were appointed to office, the governing party of the day is invariably deemed to be their benefactor, their party of choice. Such broad-brush characterizations are so dangerously wrong, and if we are not careful, many professionals will avoid offering themselves for service in the public sector for fear of being branded and unfairly victimised.

However, let me clearly state that anyone who knowingly conspires to or obtains employment in the public sector [or anywhere else] through nepotism and similar backdoor deals, is fair game for exposure.

My concern is the thoughtless targeting of honest individuals who, having satisfied all the requirements for their positions and undergone due process in obtaining employment, become victims and scapegoats in political fowl-fights turned foul fights, not to mention unfair branding for life.

Imagine finding yourself at the centre of a firestorm because opposition politicians, in trying to upstage government politicos, suggest that you are complicit in whatever issue they are griping about simply because you were not appointed by them: if you not mine you must be theirs. What a pile of poppycock.

The recent announcements by Finance Minister Nigel Clarke regarding pending changes to the process for appointing individuals to public-sector boards is timely and should set a more appropriate tone for the governance of public bodies. Hopefully, we will also have more transparency on appointments to public posts and not just boards of directors. Time will tell.

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