The Instability in our Cabinet
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Often times one is forced to wonder whether The Gambia’s head of state, Yahya Jammeh realises that he puts a square peg in a round hole only after forcing the peg in the hole.
But, surely, in this age and time of curriculum vitae and resumes as well as use of various forms of practical assessments on whether the applicant’s claimed skills march with his or her practical knowledge, that is too embarrasing a mistake the employer should not afford committing, especially in filling a position as critical as a cabinet minister.
It was only on Sunday when President Jammeh was quoted as saying that the catastrophic three-decade long unrest in Senegal’s Casamance region would have been history by now had Senegal’s former president, Abdou Diouf won the elections in 2000.
At that time, he said the two governments have reached a UN endorsed comprehensive agreement to transform the independence-seeking MFDC rebel movement into a political party. Unfortunately, he pointed out, Wade won, snubbing those efforts and plans.
Indeed every government has its style of government. Various governments can employ different approaches to the same issue as they deem fit to their principle and policy and programme.
However, the beauty about such is that there is time for a transition. Beyond the view of television cameras, handing over power is not just about the predecessor seeing the successor to the high office office and introducing him to the throne-liked chair. Rather, a democratically defeated leader plans his way-out and introduces his successor to a range of issues.
Handing over involves a complex process, including a briefing on the path taken to development or otherwise and the journey how far. This does not only involve an outgoing president and his successor, but often involves other officials and critical institutions that require a change of leadership.
Clearly, this is very much unlike President Jammeh’s own cabinet where one is a civil servant today, tomorrow a minister and sometimes serving both – a clear breach of the spirit of the constitution of The Gambia.
Moreover, ministers are being moved from one ministry to another, as if the ministers are unfit in their positions and that the head of state is still looking for a place where they could fit.
This was the state of affairs that characterised the previous three cabinets and it is rearing its head again with President Jammeh effecting a cabinet reshuffle on Monday. This instability in our cabinet undoubtedly breeds inefficiency.
The Gambia is at cross roads: The deadline for millennium developments goals is just two years away and we are unlikely to meet even goal one, which is to reduce poverty and hunger by half by 2015;
As the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper phased out, miserably failing to reduce poverty in the country, the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment has taken over. But this mid-term national development blueprint is dealt with a blow in its first year by last year’s failed cropping season as agriculture employs 60-70 percent of the country’s population.
The Vision 2020 deadline is no longer far away, and yet there is very little, if any sign that increasingly poor and highly indebted Gambia could earn a middle income status by 2020.
Therefore, government’s actions cannot afford to be as unreliable and erratic as the country’s rain fall pattern. We hope the head of state allows stability in his cabinet for our greater good.
If the head of state is having problems finding the right persons for the right jobs, he should resort to other means of filling positions in his cabinet. The trend, if not infact the accepted standard practice by responsive governments the world-over is that a head of state or government only picks, or better still nominates for the oversight institutions such as the parliament to approve. This is doable in The Gambia and it should be embraced.
Otherwise, the country will fail in its many endeavors and all the blames will be heaped on the leadership of the executive government. The apportioning of blame has infact started as it has become a culture that even the most junior official in a ministry attributes his non performance to the instability in his ministry.