Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Seeding the clouds for orange rain

Published:Thursday | July 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM

By George Davis

The People's National Party (PNP) is not planning to lose the next general election. That is why since it took office in January 2012 it has been meticulous and calculated in its planning for the next toll to the polls. In this political card game, the PNP has been so bold with its decisions that it seemingly cares not that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), as the next player at the table, can actually cut the cards and in so doing disrupt the order in which they've planned for things to fall. At first glance, it may appear careless on the PNP's part. But a look at their electoral record suggests that this orange machine doesn't make many mistakes.

Any good democracy would see public servants, appointed by the party in power, make way when that party is defeated in elections to allow for new appointments to be made. But Jamaica's democracy, by world standards, is an infant. So the PNP seems unwilling to wait for natural progression to take the country to that standard.

After winning in September 2007, the JLP declined to do the kind of wholesale change which the PNP couldn't do fast enough in January 2012. That is perhaps why so many of the confidential dealings of its ministries, agencies and departments were leaked almost at a profuse rate to the then Opposition PNP. This, as the leakers were still loyal to that party, having been installed in their jobs by them during the almost two decades they controlled power before the JLP's spell in charge.

By culling the public service and placing a PNP man or woman in both crucial and non-crucial areas, the Comrades are ensuring they keep a tight lid on leaks which could be fodder for scandals during election campaign time. To stave off a political drought, the party has virtually seeded the clouds for orange rain.

Previously, political appointees to public office would avoid the limelight at political meetings, given that they wanted to separate their national duties from their raw, partisan responsibilities. Not this government. Under Simpson Miller's watch, heads of agencies are bold in standing on the political platform trumpeting the virtues of the PNP, caring not about what the public may think about their ability to be impartial in the disposal of their duties, paid for by taxpayers' money. Discretion is seemingly out the window and there is no longer any attempt for holders of high public office to downplay their political allegiance while on business paid for by even those taxpayers who strongly support the JLP and other political organisations. Like sperm in the urethra, which cannot return to the testicles, these latter-day staples of governance are things the PNP cannot turn back or speak out against if the worst happens and they find themselves in Opposition after the next election.

The PNP has removed people from posts to provide high-level employment for loyal party soldiers, including one who lost an election on a magisterial recount in St James and a veteran former minister whose success against cancer is testament to his own resilience. A true gentleman, his success to date is a victory for man in his fight with his own body. The party has trumped for seemingly square pegs in round holes, as exemplified by the placement of Colin Campbell and Garnett Roper at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company. That experiment, which has several more phases to run, has so far been a success

But having been so bold with populating the top tier of the public service with its own, the PNP has relinquished the right to complain when the JLP does the same, if it is returned to office. The stakes will be extremely high at the next general election as an entire army of CEOs, managing directors and board chairmen are guaranteed the sack if the PNP loses. How will they use the resources at their disposal to assist the party retain power and so secure their own status and salary? Will we see them openly campaigning for the PNP on a Sunday while returning to their desks to collect taxpayers', including Labourites', money on a Monday? Very interesting times are ahead.

Selah.

George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.