Political analysts: Government in crisis for some time

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. FILE PHOTO

POLITICAL analysts Shane Mohammed, Ralph Maraj and Dr Indira Rampersad said on Monday that the Government has been in crisis for some time.

They said thorough and proper investigations should be done into the allegations made against Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy before any action is taken against them.

They believe Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds is out of his depth as national security minister.

In a statement on Sunday, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar called for the Prime Minister to fire the trio – Hinds overcurrent levels of crime, Cummings for allegations made against him in a 2019 Special Branch report and Webster-Roy for a report she laid last month in Parliament, which spoke about children in residential care facilities not being safe.

Mohammed said, “I think the Government has always been in crisis.”

That crisis, he said, started before and continued during the covid19 pandemic. “Since the pandemic touched our shores, there has only been focus on the pandemic.”

Mohammed said the Government focused its attention on some ministries but not on others.

“From a governance perspective, the country and the government are in crisis because a government is supposed to be an organism and an institution that is multi-faceted, multi-purpose, multi-talented and working at a level where one major crisis does not stop the wheels of governance and management to stop turning.”

Rowley’s removing Hinds, Cummings and Webster-Roy from their posts was not a simple matter, Mohammed said.

“We have to take into consideration several things.”

These include limited talent at Rowley’s disposal, with most of the Government’s 22 MPs and 15 senators already having ministerial portfolios.

He believed Rowley should caucus with senior Cabinet ministers such as Colm Imbert, Camille Robinson-Regis, Pennelope Beckles and Paula Gopee-Scoon about how better to use the talent in the Government’s ranks.

“They should do an audit of the performance of ministers over the last seven years and match it against the expectations and outcomes of what they hoped to achieve.”

Once this is done, Mohammed suggested the Government should be reconfigured so as to meet the public’s expectations going towards 2025, when the next general election is due.

He felt the Government’s image has been damaged by poor public communication and unnecessary bureaucracy.

“The only thing that Government could do to repair its image is repurpose its long-term goals, better political communication, bite the bullet and do a holistic reshuffle of ministers.”

This could involve government MPs such as Brian Manning being promoted to full Cabinet-minister level, and changes in the Senate to bring in more experienced people to help Government fulfil its mandate.

Mohammed said Hinds has disappointed many people as a minister because his words are not matched by his actions.

Maraj described the ministerial performances of Hinds and Webster-Roy as absymal. In Webster-Roy’s case, he said, “It took seven years before she could be heartbroken over the horrific abuse of children.”

Cummings, Maraj continued, should step aside as a minister until the allegations in the Special Branch report have been cleared.

He also believes the PNM must return to the polls with new leadership at the helm.

“That might give the PNM the chance to repair some of the damage of the last seven years.”

Rampersad said, “The Government has been in crisis for a while now. These issues have just compounded that.”

She too believed Cummings and Webster-Roy should step aside for investigations into allegations made against them.

She agreed with Mohammed and Maraj about Hinds’ performance as national security minister.

“I don’t think he was the best fit in the first place for the job, and many in the population aired that.”

Rampersad said no one is convinced by Government’s saying crime is going down.