When our Government ministers speak

-Europe, refugees and reparations: Pay back??

One dictionary definition of “minister” (of the governmental variety) goes as follows: “A high officer of state who heads a division of governmental activities”.

Of course we inherited and faithfully kept the British way of organizing government, governance and the officials intended to superintend the day to day business of administration and most of our government ministers find themselves as members of the Presidential Cabinet at some level, and as Honourable parliamentarians in the National Assembly. Ow man – imagine the challenges to be lived up to, by the newer, inexperienced, rookie–newcomers to, such office, status, authority and power!

Now be reminded too of two preliminary considerations. One, there is no requirement for specific qualifications or training for the vacant post of minister – as the vital underlings have to possess. Two, only Honourable Nagamootoo and Greenidge were once ministers when the APNU+AFC coalition ascended.

So as most of our ministers complete their third year in office, how should we – the citizens they pledged to serve – assess their performance even as they speak or write publicly?

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Our servant – ministers – before and now

Servant–ministers? Yes they are really our highest–profile public servants! What? They never act as such? Oh my. Why? Well you should recall who our ministers were. In their earlier life and incarnation.

One minister was an active loyal party comrade. Deserving of some high–office reward. Others were qualified as teachers, doctors, military officers, accountants, community activists, private sector business persons, attorneys-at–law and such like. Now note that his Excellency was faced with accepting non– PNC/APNU coalition ministers. He seemed to have balanced this reality with a personal preference for lawyers and military comrades. Knowledge seems to reside in these types, he expects. (Today I can count 20–plus military ladies and gentlemen in some pivotal capacity.) Remember now, they are qualified, new to government and polite public service – or not. So what should we expect of their deportment, abilities – and speech?

Well the days of politicians, leaders and ministers of wide vocabulary and great oratory are long gone. Who now could rival Burnham, Ramphal, Shahabuddeen, Janet, Jardim, Cheeks, Wills, Gajraj, Green, Bissember, Da Silva or Field-Ridley? In terms of language and delivery?

Well great orators do not necessarily translate into good, efficient, effective leaders with people and service as priorities. The average minister or CEO who could communicate policy and solid programmes must and will do.

Today, for me and those sixty–plus who still regard good speech and sincerity from leaders, Czarina Gail ranks amongst the opposition’s better speakers, writers. Young Dr Ashni Singh mastered the language but now dudes like Edgehill and Nandlall are left to try.

Check and listen carefully as his Excellency expounds. Competent without being compelling. Assess the intent of Harmon, Jordan, Patterson and Trotman especially. Cde Raphael, to me, is a masterful artful dodger, always the lawyer who manipulates his language – and sometimes his listeners. The Prime Minister is always the politician of re-incarnation and, at times, the journalist.

For decades I held the view that the study of law would help the qualified with their vocabulary and delivery. But frankly speaking, these days I yearn for the speakers of the fifties to eighties.

Great talk may inspire us to action but the old adage forever advises that “a man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds”. So if we are not hearing from Ministers Holder, Norton, Hastings, Felix or Scott a lot, perhaps they prefer doing to talking. By the way, what do you think about our current batch of lady ministers? Discuss…

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Refugees, migrants – reparations

Since this last Sunday’s Chronicle beat me to it, I’ll use just a few sentences to provoke your own (deeper) thought.

As the Caribbean, a few African and native societies seek reparation payments from Europe and North America for the deaths of earlier generations and European grand exploitation of non–European natural resources for centuries, today’s world is witnessing the most brutal refugee crisis ever. However challenging Guyana is, we Guyanese are rather insulated from the human misery now visited upon displaced populations from such devastated places like Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, D.R. Congo, Honduras, Burma, to mention only a handful.

Children grow up knowing only conflict and war. Their families create a world now on the move to safer zones. Refugees now jostle with legal and illegal migrants for space in the free world of Europe and the Americas. This could be regarded as reparatory payback for the period of European seizures and exploitation especially. Canada made an effort with its first native peoples but frankly speaking I don’t see European capitals rushing to reimburse their former colonies. Either with cash or opportunity.

Two final points to consider: France should continuously aid Haiti. France raped that half of an island spitefully. Because of the grand success of the Haitian Revolution; secondly, the Middle Eastern refugees are not actually economic migrant–refugees. They are really fleeing conflicts in their oil–rich homelands governed by tyrants. They must be aided to return after the dictators are made to depart.

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Lots to ponder…

PPP Member of Parliament Harry Gill reports that at a meeting the visiting security oversight committee held with residents of the North-West Region One, beleaguered citizens there offered to build a police outpost when Vice President Ramjattan explained his deficient budget.  (I think it was the people of Kumaka (?) I can’t wait to hear of the official response to this urgent civic–mindedness!)

I was acting as the country’s Chief Information Officer when I escorted a BBC journalist to interview Forbes Burnham. The British gentleman asked Forbes why little Guyana boasted many more ministers than Britain or West Germany at that time.

Without batting an eye President or PM Burnham explained “many are junior ministers as in your Permanent Secretaries. They are shadowing the actual ministers” ha!

Poor President Trump! Dr Ben Carson once described him as “a millionaire playboy” now they’re using that ladies–man past against him. But name which president exercised his sexual indiscretions right within the White House!

I think the Koreans jailed the powerful Samsung head. Now Facebook Zuckerberg was grilled for days publicly. Real open societies.

Til next week!

 allanafenty@yahoo.com