THE SEASON of chaos, incessant noise, and people peeing on your walls is here.
No, I’m not talking about Carnival.
The ruling party announced it will hit the ground running for election 2020 after the feting is done. So it’s ole mas after the ole mas.
As mentioned last week, I’ve been scouring the interwebs for political news to inform my doomsday-prepping activities. These include hoarding of tinned foods, wildly reckless storage of gasoline, and animal husbandry. On one of my info-reconnaissance missions, I stumbled onto an interesting social media post.
It hinged on online duelling between former government minister Devant Maharaj and a PNM blogger.
In sharing a document spelling out the individual’s name and her costs as an adviser to a certain state agency, Maharaj questioned her eligibility and qualifications. The blogger responded by throwing together a live video to state her case. In it, she described herself as an in-demand crisis communications specialist; the most qualified person in the entire country for the job, in fact.
Now, her video was precisely what a crisis communications specialist would advise against. Given that questions were being asked about her suitability for the post, those inquiries should have been handled by the agency engaging her services. After all, she didn’t hire herself. Didn’t she advise them of that?
You will note the individual’s identity hasn’t been mentioned. That’s because the person, in this case, isn’t important. It’s not about personalities. The central message here is, under a PNM government a job or contract with a state agency or an appointment to a state board is nothing other than service to your country. When you do it under any other government, you are “eating ah food.”
During the term of the PP government, I was approached to serve (eat ah food) on the EMA board. The board was to be chaired by the late, highly-respected Prof Julian Kenny. Kenny was eminently qualified for the position (dining at the pleasure of the State?).
Conversations with the noted biologist convinced me to accept the directorship. As a producer of a nature television series, I had an interest in conservation. I accepted my instruments of appointment.
Not long after, two instruments of resentment on a PNM radio station questioned my qualifications for the EMA board. They constantly struck the eat-ah-food gong. I was becoming fabulously affluent, it seems, on a board director’s stipend.
Additionally, the Mirror newspaper wrote an article rubbishing the eligibility of my nature television show for state funding. This funding was awarded long before I was approached to serve on the EMA board. Incidentally, private sector backing of the show by far exceeded state support.
The Mirror suggested other producers could do a far better job of it than I. Most criticism I can take in stride. Fact is, though, I wasn’t hired to produce Bush Diary. I created it. Of course, there are probably people who could have done it better. No one else, though, was going in the bush and taking bite from bete rouge in inconvenient places to do it! And by inconvenient places I don’t mean locations.
My qualifications and suitability for the EMA board and funding for my television shows were on public display for anyone to see. My nature television show, experience in television, radio and print media were in the national domain. My entire body of work was a matter of public record. Still, I was targeted by rabid PNMites braying accusations of eat-ah-food-ism.
Every government must procure goods and services. The State doesn’t manufacture vehicles, computers or office furniture. Not every state organisation has in-house event management, graphic design or video production capabilities. The private sector has to step in.
When it happens under a PNM government, it’s legitimate commerce. With any other administration, it’s rewarding supporters and kleptocracy. This hypocritical thinking gives a political party ownership of the country. It buttresses a warped ideology of divine right of rule.
Now, I wasn’t against questions being asked about my qualifications and expertise per se. What’s important is that this scrutiny must apply regardless of who is in government. Some hires may turn out to be unsuitable. In other instances they could be legit and a great asset to the state agency or ministry.
Each should be judged on their merits and capabilities, not political loyalties. What’s good for one must be good for all. These are the basics of a democratic society; if we have any interest in that sort of thing.