Time Come Portia, Time Come.
If ever a straw broke a camel’s back, that straw fell this afternoon. The Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica released what may go down in Commonwealth history as the most unfortunate statement on behalf of a Head of Government; the office of Mrs. Simpson Miller purported to be “concerned” for the safety of the Prime Minister. Fair enough. The worrying aspect of this development is that there is no security threat, in the standard sense, to the Prime Minister. Instead, the OPM released this dubious statement after members of the media sought a response from an ever evasive Simpson Miller. In her now characteristic attempt to dodge the media, and their relentless pursuit of information, the Prime Minister was apparently struck by a microphone. It is regrettable that the PM was struck, but the real issue is why was she running? The real issue is why hasn’t she consented to sit for an interview having taken office 15 months ago? When one considers the PM’s abject refusal to face the press, it leads to one devastating conclusion. If a leader cannot face the country unscripted, or by some accounts not even scripted, it brings the competence of the leader into serious question. The Prime Minister has now resorted to the lowest possible denominator, hiding. It is shameful and unacceptable. Since taking office, the PM has repeatedly told the nation that “time come”, time come for removing the Queen as Head of State, time come to take appeals to the Caribbean Court of Justice, time come to put country above party etc. I think the Prime Minister must now reflect on her own inability to lead the government, indeed the country; time come to step aside. Time come Portia, time come.
One of the most frequently leveled criticisms against the former government was its apparent arrogance and the contempt it displayed towards the Jamaican people. There was a time that the Prime Minister, as Opposition Leader, convinced me that the Bruce Golding led government was indeed too arrogant. I was inclined to agree that the tone and tenor of Ministers like Daryl Vaz was offensive. Imagine my surprise now to find the government led by Mrs. Simpson Miller even more arrogant than its predecessor, imagine my shock and awe at the fact that the Prime Minister herself currently drips with contempt.
Our first point of contact with the arrogance of this government is the Minister with responsibility for Information, Sandrea Falconer. Ms. Falconer frequently treats the media as a collective nuisance and in one instance pretended to have a right not to answer questions legitimately posed to her. Her tone now frequently implies that the country should get over whatever little foul up her Cabinet colleagues have gotten themselves into. Even more unbelievable is her penchant for the comment “No comment”, or some other weak variation of it. Her tone is no different from that of a Daryl Vaz, widely seen as the most arrogant Minister of the former government.
The problem is that for a lot of Jamaicans, Mrs. Simpson Miller and the PNP represented a change from the “uncaring” JLP. The mantra of “people power” promised a change in style, tone and leadership. It turns out we’ve jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. The most glaring example of this is the Richard Azan debacle. The State Minister displayed poor judgement and it is alleged that he used his seal, as a Justice of the Peace, to sanction the illicit construction of shops on lands he neither owned, nor had permission to use. The Cabinet rallied in support of their fellow comrade, arguing that his conduct was unrelated to his portfolio as a Junior Minister and therefore does not warrant dismissal. This is nonsense. The use of the seal of the Office of Justice of the Peace to sanction an illicit, and possibly out rightly illegal act, is ample grounds for suspension, if not dismissal. Mr. Azan should have been made to stand aside until it could be proven that he is indeed innocent. For someone always quick to call on former Prime Minister Golding to act, Mrs. Simpson Miller seems to suffer from the disease of inaction.
Mrs. Simpson Miller has repeated every single fault she found with the Golding Government. She has not kept her promises, she has allowed the contempt of her Ministers to go unchecked, she has appointed the second largest executive in the history of independent Jamaica, she has trampled on the concept of people power by refusing to face and have dialogue with the people of Jamaica in a meaningful way, she has said she’s working, but in reality all we see is ribbon cutting, baby kissing and groundbreaking, and finally, she has remained deafeningly silent on every major issue facing Jamaica, choosing to hide behind her Ministers. It is a crying shame.
I never wanted this blog to be so decidedly anti PNP, I never intended to be so strongly opposed to the leadership of Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller. In fact, a part of me hoped she would have used the size-able majority she commands in parliament to enact some meaningful change in Jamaican politics, that was not to be. I am left angry, annoyed and resentful at our politics and political system. It is time for the Prime Minister to accept what is already evident to the whole nation, she cannot fulfill the role she has been asked to play. Is time to accept dat Mama, time to seriously put country above party and above self. Time come Portia, time come.