Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Weigh assets, liabilities for Cabinet

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2016 | 3:00 AMDeseree Whittle

This is an open letter to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Heartiest congratulations on winning what has got to be the most dramatic of general elections in Jamaica's history, as well as on an excellent inaugural speech.

This is the closest we could have come to an even split (barring, of course, a tie in a constituency!), or the kind of result that could result in a coalition government, as happened in the United Kingdom's 2010 election. One could fantasise about a Cabinet of ministers formed from the brightest of minds from both parties. But that's fanciful thinking!

I think all Jamaica is nevertheless heartened by the call for partnership in your inaugural speech, especially with the Opposition. As indicated in your speech, the slim majority leaves no room for arrogance, selfishness, or pettiness, which I would translate as the divisiveness that has characterised Jamaican politics in the past. We welcome the commitment to not take the people and our views for granted. We therefore look forward to a leadership style that is inclusive, taking account of the opinions of the people, and marked with humility.

Going forward, I think people are also heartened, generally, by the hints of a smaller, leaner Cabinet. As you choose Cabinet ministers, it will be important to recognise who are your assets and liabilities. May I suggest that your liabilities are not those who have contested your leadership in the past.These may actually be your assets. Liabilities may be those who, despite loyalty, are known for boisterous and unruly outbursts. Be careful not to be seen to be rewarding bad behaviour. Character is as important as talent in a government minister.

You have a humungous task and will need the continuing grace of God, who you acknowledged has placed in this position. I will leave you with some words that were given to another young leader when he took over from his older mentor:

"Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful ... ." (Joshua 1:7)

Walk good, PM!

DESEREE WHITTLE

Director, Yutes On

D'Rock Foundation

whittledeseree@yahoo.com