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Published: 
Monday, August 17, 2015

• “Kamla brand of leadership is ‘I acted within the law.’ Very, very poor and unfortunate.”  
• (It) “is a very well written and objective article on leadership and in particular, our Prime Minister’s leadership.”
• “I cannot recall in any previous Government the degree of nepotism and cronyism we have seen in this one.” 
 
A few of the responses I got to last week’s column in which began the examination of the prime ministerial leadership demonstrated by Kamla Persad-Bissessar in the context of the United National Congress offering her leadership as the overwhelming reason for the government being re-elected. 

In the first article I identified leadership of the transformational as opposed to the transactional variety associated with maintaining the status quo.  

In the previous article I divided the PM’s leadership action on fundamental issues such as dealing with her selection and management of ministers into two groups:  with ministers she deemed politically insignificant, the treatment was summary dismissal; those who had political value to the Government she waited for the public to fire them.

As with Jack Warner who she protected for three years; the PM did nothing about Anil Roberts and the room 201 episode; she could not decide whether the man in the room speaking about and engaging in illicit ganja-smoking activity was her minister. The PM continued to stall even when her minister of national security, Gary Griffith, began acknowledging and unfurling the details of the $400 million fraud in the LifeSport programme. 

When as head of the National Security Council and Prime Minister, she decided on the appointment of a junior functionary as head of the national intelligence agency, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar as leader, presided over her ministers misinforming Parliament about Reshmi Ramnarine’s qualifications and experience.

She even sought to dismiss reporter questions on Reshmi asserting that it was “time to move on.” To the present the leader of government has never given a full explanation of how such a fundamental irresponsibility in decision-making could have been exercised by the Prime Minister.  

Similarly, the Prime Minister has failed to explain to a large segment of the population how the cabinet easily agreed to one portion of the Constitution Amendment Bill being assented to without the infrastructural requirements being put in place. As has been noted, the law opened a way through which financiers UNC could slip through without facing many million-dollar charges.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar’s leadership in instituting a programme that would lead to passage of regulations and laws to govern the financing of election campaigns by business groups, which purchase influence in the Treasury, amounted to establishing a Parliamentary Committee a mere six months before election when there was no chance of developing legislation and rules for campaign financing before election.

When questioned as to whether she would make transparent any financial contributions to her party, she opted not to lead the way but follow the PNM, if it agreed to inform on its financing. 

Procurement legislation has come late in her five-year term and could only be implemented over the next two to three years. Those who make accusations of tribal favouritism of the UNC point to the allocation of resources, to appointments on state boards and agencies and diplomatic appointments abroad heavily weighted in favour of Persad-Bissessar’s tribe (Indo-Trinidad) as evidence of their claim.

As leader, PM Persad-Bissessar failed to initiate discussion towards meaningful constitutional reform. She appointed a commission headed by a favoured minister and then sought to impose her specially concocted “Run Off” Bill on the election, only backing down when it became clear that her anti-democratic style would work against her.   

The Prime Minister as leader of her party/government has to take responsibility for the vulgar and unsubstantiated allegations about Dr Rowley being a second generation rapist, following his deceased father. That having failed, the PM led an undemocratic attack on the Leader of the Opposition which resulted in the unilateral removal of the elected MP from the House.

Within the UNC, Kamla Persad-Bissessar has ignored, for more than a year, the party’s constitutional requirement for election of a political leader and an executive.  Vitally important to note is her failure to unite and strengthen the coalition; instead Persad-Bissessar’s leadership has contributed to the demise of the Congress of the People and the dropout of the MSJ.

Reduction in the number of murders and other serious crimes is the best the PM and her coalition government have been able to achieve. Untouched is the 2010 promise to dismantle the criminal enterprise; crime remains citizen fear number one.  

The 2011 State of Emergency initiated by leader Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar delivered nothing but cases of unlawful arrests and detention. What has flourished is a vast billion-dollar industry of corruption around government operations and governance procedures.

The leadership decision to refuse the delivery of the five offshore patrol vessels to counter drug-trafficking and gun-running left the borders open for five years.  Therefore, the leadership required to strike at the base of criminality has not been demonstrated. One police commissioner was fired without due justification, his replacement has been placed on a ten-days cycle.

Within Caricom, Persad-Bissessar’s failure to grasp that T&T is the major beneficiary of Caricom trade and economic co-operation, turned the region against this country through her chauvinistic comment of T&T not being the ABM dispenser of cash to Caricom states. 

 To be continued.

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