St Lucia’s leadership crisis, a remarkable confession

St Lucia’s leadership crisis, a remarkable confession

The basic training of a lawyer teaches one to choose words carefully, but minister for legal affairs, home affairs and national security, Victor La Corbiniere, has displayed no such ability. Besides that, his use of language has served the purpose to grasp, not surprisingly, that true confession is good for the soul.

There you have it.

“I continue to say to the Commissioner of Police and previous commissioners that we are aware that they are high powered weapons in the country and there has to be a more targeted intelligence driven plan to recover these weapons.

“The substance of the problem comes with the drug trade. With every shipment of drugs that comes into the country and sometimes transits through the country, we have the opportunity for firearms coming in. Some of these weapons even come through the normal ports, because the country lacks a very comprehensive system of screening.

“But if the government were to increase surveillance at various ports of entry, it could be a very expensive undertaking to purchase x-ray machines to check each container.

To be precise Victor La Corbiniere is confessing his lack of achievement and inferring that his government is unable to exercise the most basic purpose of government – to keep the people and country safe and secure. But wait, he continues, “While it is a reality on the ground, this is as a result of the economic climate in Saint Lucia over the past few years.

“The budget of my ministry has been steady for the past two years. Going into this budget it continues to be fairly stable. We have not seen any significant increases across the board.

“Most of the capital projects were axed last years. It will most likely be axed again this year. And that is purely based upon the economic climate.

“Agencies similar to the RSLPF have to find “innovative ways” to get the business done…Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) is an example, where they have moved to rehabilitate their farm with the assistance of members of the private sector.

“You also have to be careful in being creative. But there has to be some measure of creativity, greater level of efficiency, because there is also a lot of wastage in the public service.”

Victor La Corbiniere’s confession is mind-boggling stuff, hitherto juvenile; about inadequacies to secure the people and the county when he is well positioned to take corrective measures. This is coming at a time when the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government is happy to project achievements from building expensive roads and bridges, hiring American lawyers in relation to IMPACS, ongoing litigation in Grynberg and spending lavishly on 5,000 artificial jobs and jobs report. 

But more interestingly, what is the implication of such comments to entice the tourism sector that is seen as the pillar of the economy? How does that restore trust and confidence to a battered RSLPF with more actors than the Oscars, minus the red carpet, who on a daily basis have to confront violence, rape and murders throughout the country?

On the other hand, this could not come at the best possible moment, if finally to reinforce Victor La Corbiniere is nothing but an empty suit and conspicuously to show he has learned nothing from experience. At a time when Prime Minister Kenny Anthony is lamenting that “there is a crisis of leadership in the public service.”

“I think you have to revisit leadership and what leadership means. And it means so many things. It means courage, it means the will to be alone and stand alone for what you believe is right; not a stubborn insistence on self-justification, but an innate philosophical belief that you are doing the right thing because that is what is necessary and good for what you are charged with administering. Always exploring, always looking into the future, identifying potential crisis, dealing with it, averting it. That is the quality of leadership.”

From my point of view there is an element of truth in this rhetoric. It has specific and unique set of challenges. Nevertheless, one cannot argue that the lack of leadership is prevalent and to some extent harboured, if Prime Minister Kenny Anthony is not convinced that Victor La Corbiniere should be replaced. 

Clearly, if not resolved, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony’s illuminating light is dim at a missed opportunity, when the senses should demonstrate significance in his cabinet; than to call on civil servants “to be more responsive and decisive, to take up the responsibility for making hard decisions, and to find the conviction to stand by their decisions.” 

In terms of strengthening the nucleus of government, you have to make major changes at the top that is reform driven, with the power and capability of the administration to set policy direction, measure outcomes of key government priorities, delivery and performance management. Without that, and a strategy to prepare for uncertainties, new challenges and fresh ideas become a systemic repetition of bureaucratic driven statute; as is currently the case.

Therefore, when there is a slow pace to a completely new approach to criminal justice reform, law and order and the dispensation of justice is a reflection of the top. A lack of confidence that is reflective on the social and economic cost of crime, the lack of social enterprise and economic stagnation. 

When in that mode, it’s about shaping, deciding and solving the state of affairs with temperament, character and attitude. However, leadership without delegation more often than not ends up in a mess. That’s the reality on hand – a self-made, calculated mess! Except, the public isn’t stupid at knowing who is real and who is a fake in the prism of criminal justice, law and order and policing that simply does not measure up to 21st century systems.

Industry policy is lacking the emphasis on modern enterprise and diplomacy (through alliances) on foreign, economic and social policy to produce economic turnaround and a prosperous country. An intimate account of this is the comic illustration of IMPACS made worse by a litter of mishaps, missteps and misadventures. In part, made possible by mythology, ideology, and the sultans of spin vs. genuine analysis and solution based facts.

Notwithstanding Prime Minister Kenny Anthony’s sudden reality that: “The public service has incredible talent, enormous talent; when you look across the region, Saint Lucia probably has one of the highest number of graduates in its system. But the real question for us, for you, for me, is whether we are getting the best out of this huge investment we have made in those who manage the public service, and whether we are maximising the talent that is available.”

This no doubt speaks to the crisis of both management and leadership and utter incapacity of the SLP administration. And never mind Prime Minister Kenny Anthony’s intellectual arrogance of brilliance perhaps to proffer and opinion in retirement. He remains currently spineless to effect change with the power of his office, except to utter unabashed that “if he were given early enough warning, he would offer his personal views on the reason for the problem.” This to me seems parallel to if not relating to treason at the expense of taxpayers and future generations who will be burdened to pay for his retirement.

In the private sector, both Prime Minister Kenny Anthony and minister for legal affairs, home affairs and national security Victor La Corbiniere would have been fired on their enduring testaments.

But since the system of government is handicapped to deal with normal challenges, law and order, equity and efficiency, resource management and decisive leadership, one can understand why a clear eyed delivery mechanism on what was promised in 2011, and a strategy to deal with what is choked in the pipeline, needs to break new ground and continue the mess.

Now that the focus has shifted to general election this year, a lot of exaggerated nonsense has began flying left right and centre, and promises too numerous to mention that serve as a recipe for further incompetence when the stage craft is parody of pretence looking for good news and better days. A significant phenomenon, even if it means taking more risks to reflect functional conspiracy.

Meanwhile, IMPACS, that is three dimensional comprising; foreign policy, national security and economic, pursuant to a national development plan; the opening of two new hospitals; universal health care (UHC), legal and constitution reform, agriculture, alternative energy/climate change adaptation is given the usual lip service, election talk. 

It is only real to conclude leaders that spew out fiction and portray little relationship to reality and the rest of the world is truly out of touch. And strangely enough they are usually unable to get out of that funk, resulting from admissions that are uncomfortable to make, except in retirement.

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