Coming soon to a polling booth near you: National Accountability Day

These are the dark and wet days of the rainy season, when Jamaicans on island hope we know what lies ahead (Christmas), but generally aren’t willing to put our money on it……

While sloshing through flooded roads or sitting in traffic while the water rises round us, we think about the day when someone might actually be fired for not (ever) having cleaned the drains on (insert your own road here)….. We think about National Accountability Day.


“Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History” (William Ryan, Walter Pitman)

Election (or National Accountability) Day

On National Accountability Day we hope that all the current Ministers, and Ministers of State, and Chairmen of State Boards (whom we all got tired of long, long ago) will vanish and be replaced by new faces.

We can then enjoy a few months (or weeks) of waiting for things to change totally, completely and absolutely for the better. (And when they don’t, we can get out our Bibles and ruefully read Ecclesiastes (1:9), you know, that part where he talks about “there is no new thing under the sun”…..)

So one of the problems that our current Leader of the Opposition will have on National Accountability Day is that his Members of Parliament (his pool of potential Cabinet members) are so shop soiled that it is difficult for voters to imagine them as new and different.

Yes, I can look forward to an enthusiastic Andrew Holness as Minister of Education and Colonel McMillan as a savvy and rock solid Minister of National Security. I think the Leader of the Opposition himself will make a good Prime Minister.

It’s when we get to what Karl Samuda will be doing in the Cabinet (can you see him as anything but in his current role as Cass-Cass-in-Chief ?), or Audley Shaw (amazing how that business about not being able to run a gas station sticks in your mind when you’re thinking of this future Minister of Finance) or our own Helen of Troy Joan Gordon-Webley ?

“Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (Issues of Our Time)” (Amartya Sen)

Our current Prime Minister has the same problem.

How to change out such long-past-their-sell-by-date-but-still-in-harness Cabinet members like Minister of Finance Omar Davies, Minister of Education Maxine Henry-Wilson and Minister of Justice the irrelevant A.J. Nicholson ?

Well, in the past few weeks we have been enlightened as to who is really in line to replace Omar:- Peter Bunting, the merchant banker who is about to get richer with the proposed sale of his firm Dehring, Bunting and Golding to Scotiabank.

Peter Bunting’s PNP resume ?

  • Supported Portia in her failed bid for the leadership in 1992
  • Sent former JLP Prime Minister Hugh Shearer to his political grave in the 1993 elections (Bunting resigned as M.P. and didn’t run again in 1997)
  • Largely financed Omar’s vanity run for the leadership earlier this year.

Omar has repeatedly boasted that only he has the confidence of the international financial markets (essential for a country with Jamaica’s massive debts), but Peter Bunting’s track record in money management is much closer to the U.S. experience (where Treasury Secretaries are cherry picked from Wall Street)……So Omar would get his, and we would get Peter… far, so good….

Thanks to Joan Gordon-Webley, we now know Maxine Henry-Wilson could be pushed aside by the PNP’s newest Vice-President Angella Brown-Burke. We totally understand Joan’s chagrin when she learnt that she might have to run against a smart, young PNP Vice-President familiar with the constituency (and the city), instead of the unpopular incumbent, Maxine Henry-Wilson……So far, so long Maxine….

But who will rid us of A.J. Nicholson ? Come on, there must be at least 1,000 equally qualified lawyers out there. Don’t any of you want to be in the Senate and go down in history as singlehandedly straightening out the Justice system after its despoiling in the hands of A.J. and Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe ?……So far, so depressing….

“P.D. James – A Certain Justice” (Ross Devenish)

Barbados Free Press launched a competition to identify the best/worst examples of official corruption in Barbados. So if you have ever lived or worked in Barbados and have something to tell, click over and unburden yourself. You could win US$1,000 !

No such luck for those of us living on the Rock. This week the local newspapers have been full of stories of Jamaican officials needing to be, or refusing to be, held accountable for anything whatsoever :-

1. Millions “missing” at the National Solid Slush Fund Agency ? Would that be the responsibility of Errol Greene, the Executive Director of the NSWMA? According to the article, the Board and the Fraud Squad will probably conclude just that…… Even if he just loses his job and gets a slap on the wrist (instead of going to jail), this would still be a triumph for Portia appointee and new Board Chairman, Ethlyn Norton-Coke. Not to mention the taxpayers.

2. Gunshots, murder and terror in the garrison constituencies of Maxine Henry-Wilson (JLP caretaker, Joan Gordon-Webley) and Andrew Holness (PNP caretaker, Patrick Roberts) ? Would that be the fault of the political representatives (all four of them) ? Bishop Herro Blair of the Peace Management Initiative thinks so, although Maxine looks to have kept out of this one. Possibly because she’s preoccupied with watching her back…… Accountability ? The voters should decide but won’t be given a chance to do so, so let’s award both seats to the JLP from now…….(assuming that Maxine remains the PNP candidate…..

3. More huffing and puffing over the Contractor General Greg Christie doing his job. Jamaicans are not used to being asked to take responsibility for their actions, and lots of public officials think that “being embarrassed” is the same thing as being held accountable. For example:

Some media person “embarrasses” you by asking why that contractor just gave you a massive pay-off; you complain to your political overlord; he complains to the media owner and, hey presto !, that media person loses their job and never bothers you again. Of course, you still feel “embarrassed” and will require even bigger payoffs in the future to make up for this blow to your self-esteem…..

4. A woman loses her baby because the island’s biggest maternity hospital, Victoria Jubilee, can’t organize a Caesarian section because instruments cannot be sterilized for surgery? The doctors’ blame the hospital administration who they claim needs to “wake up”, the hospital administration blames the South East Regional Health Authority, and the Authority says nothing much but makes it clear that it is part of the Ministry of Health (which can’t afford to staff and equip health facilities with the money it is allocated in the Budget…..)

The PM orders a probe and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health does herself no favours by suggesting that the doctors at Jubilee are making a fuss over nothing. After all, ALL Jamaicans have roaches running around their home (Note to the P.S.: I do have roaches at home, but I make a point of keeping them out of my operating theatre….)

Who’s accountable ? We bet it ends up being one of those situations where the complainers (the doctors) are helped to understand that there is no money to address their concerns….. Gentlemen, you know what to do on National Accountability Day.

5. And finally, over in the private sector at the resurrected Reggae Sunsplash, we get to enjoy a saga of mismanagement and incompetence that is funny only because people this clueless are usually employed to the Government of Jamaica. In this case, the empty pockets and red faces belong to the sponsor, bMobile, and the show promoters. And for this small blessing, Lord, we, the taxpayers, are truly thankful….


“Count Your Blessings: The Healing Power of Gratitude and Love” (John Demartini)



“Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings” (Rob Brezsny)


[posted with ecto]

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