By Robert Wynter
Sometime last year, before the general election campaign got into high gear, I was privileged to attend the launch of the People's National Party's (PNP) Progressive Agenda. Watching the video presentation, I got the distinct impression that party leader, Portia Simpson Miller, was thinking very strongly about her legacy. On exiting, several Comrades with whom I spoke shared my sentiments, albeit in very hushed tones.
To her credit, Mrs Simpson Miller led a team that swept the Jamaica Labour Party out of office after only one term. During the campaign, Mrs Simpson Miller promised, inter alia, to take Jamaica to republican status and to replace the Privy Council as the final appellate court.
Since her party's ascension to power following the December 29, 2011 election, the prime minister seems to be shying away from the difficult issues facing Jamaica such as crime, education and the economy, with many persons insisting she is missing in action. My take is that the prime minister does not intend to go the full term of this administration; however, she intends to have passed the necessary legislation to remove The Queen as head of state and to replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). These, then, appear to be the major hallmarks of her legacy.
SCARS IN OUR PSYCHE
Slavery and colonialism are key components of Jamaica's history which have left deep scars in our psyche. We cannot simply forget our past, and it is certainly not very easy to remove these scars. However, it is my humble opinion that many persons, including many of our leaders, prominent thinkers and major decision-makers, have overused slavery and colonialism as excuses for the difficult situation in which we find ourselves.
The natural tendency, therefore, is to find solutions which appear to redress slavery and colonialism. We must, however, be very mindful of what our first national hero, Marcus Garvey, said, and echoed in song by Bob Marley, that we should "emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds".
VISION 2030'S NEW CONTEXT
Sometime around 2008, both political parties agreed on a vision for Jamaica - that by 2030 our country will be the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. This is a very powerful vision; however, try as hard as the folks at the Planning Institute may to convince everyone that the vision is already here, many persons do not believe this will happen - at least not by the year 2030. This vision has several ramifications:
1. Hardly any Jamaican will be applying for visas, as by then most countries will waive visa requirements to us. In fact, our embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world will be bombarded by applicants wanting to visit and relocate to Jamaica.
2. Incoming remittance payments will be a thing of the past as Jamaica will be a net sender of remittances to our relatives in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and elsewhere.
3. Poverty, homelessness and squatting will, for all intents and purposes, be eliminated as the country's productive sector will be generating enough surpluses to provide adequate social protection for those citizens requiring such protection.
4. Jamaica will be a net lender to the international funding agencies and the international capital markets
5. The monster of crime and violence will have been tamed such that burglar bars in most residential communities no longer exist. Residents and visitors will feel safe to walk the streets any hour of the night and day.
6. Our health system will be among the best in the world, with children under 18, senior citizens and those unemployed receiving free health care.
7. Our education system will have realised the goals of the 2004 Task Force Report on Education Reform. The Grade Six Achievement Test, as a placement system, will be abolished, as all secondary schools are adequately resourced, adequately manned by well-qualified staff and all students exiting the system are ready for tertiary education, the world of work or entrepreneurship.
THE JANUS APPROACH
In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions. His statue, as shown above in the Vatican Museums, has him simultaneously looking backward and forward. In a risk-management case study in his 'Balanced Scorecard' seminar, Professor Robert Kaplan of Harvard Business School uses the Roman god to guide executives in managing the risk-revenue dilemma. In other words, too much risk management gets us little revenue; however, failure to focus on risk destroys our capacity to generate revenue in a sustainable manner.
Similarly, in applying the Janus approach to managing the government and our national institutions, we have to take into consideration slavery, colonialism and their effects, while simultaneously looking forward to Vision 2030 and what it will bring.
We cannot, however, allow the past to distract us from the future. Mental slavery and mental colonialism appear to be major stumbling blocks to achieving Vision 2030. It is my humble opinion that replacing the monarchy and establishing the CCJ, while noble, will not get the consensus of the majority of Jamaicans, nor will they take us any closer to realising Vision 2030. In fact, the monarchy and the Privy Council can each exist within the tenets of Vision 2030.
On the other hand, the poor education and health systems, high crime and security concerns and the anaemic economy are definitely at variance with the Vision. Fixing these will, in addition to bringing us closer to our Vision, have everyone cheering on the Government and rewarding it with additional terms in office.
MOVING ON FROM JAMAICA 50
Despite early jitters, I must say that our jubilee celebrations were very successful. We must lift our hat to Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna, Robert Bryan and the entire team. Ms Hanna and Mr Bryan got a lot of stick in the months leading up to Independence, but they now deserve our heartiest congratulations.
My only, challenge, however is the matter of the legacy. It is my understanding that the CEO of the CHASE Fund, Billy Heaven, is to head a committee to develop projects in education, entertainment and culture that will form the basis of the 50th anniversary legacy. What is needed is for the overall Government's plans and programmes to be the legacy.
In preparing her legacy, therefore, Mrs Simpson Miller ought to cast her eyes on those issues that will take the country closer to Vision 2030. The Opposition has already signalled its intention to oppose any efforts to go to the CCJ, with its leader, Andrew Holness, indicating that the Government needs to deal with serious matters.
I am quite convinced that it is not beyond our collective capabilities to achieve the Vision described above. However, I am not convinced that it will happen within 18 years.
I strongly recommend to the prime minister to take the lead role in getting us there by first setting a more realistic plan, such as becoming a truly developed country by our 100th anniversary in 2062 and set the country firmly on its way to that Vision. Having done that, we will all be proud of her legacy.
Robert Wynter is managing director of Strategic Alignment Limited, which facilitates organisational transformation and leadership development. Comments are welcome at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.