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The recycling of bad candidates

Dear Editor,

The general election for The Bahamas is less than four months away and we are seeing chess moves daily by all three major political parties.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has made a lot of changes in terms of its slate of candidates.  They now have notable first-timers Dion Smith, Dr. Daniel Johnson, Greg Burrows and Dr. Perry Gomez. But they have ratified Obie Wilchombe, Picewell Forbes, Anthony Moss, Shane Gibson and V. Alfred Gray, Leslie Miller despite calls from PLP Trustee George Smith, former chairman Raynard Rigby and former campaign coordinator Philip Galanis, who said that these men are not good for the party and are essentially bad candidates.  Interestingly enough, Vincent Peet was the only candidate not ratified by the PLP and this is due to an issue that he had with a client’s funds that was leaked to the public.

Just recently, Hubert Ingraham, as promised, announced 17 new FNM candidates for the next general election.  Many FNM incumbents were not given the nod this time around.  Earl Deveaux and Larry Cartwright are two of the most noted serving Cabinet ministers who have given up their seats for the FNM’s fresh faces.  Could it be that Ingraham in his wisdom realized that change was imminent and he had to re-engineer the look of his party?  Could it also be that Ingraham was trying to get rid of some bad candidates?

The prime minister said it best when he said, “There will always be lazy MPs”.  His call for fresh faces in the new FNM lineup is a good move given that Bahamians have become dissatisfied with his current slate of Cabinet ministers and backbenchers.

But what is surprising to me is the recycling of bad candidates.  Many of these candidates have not performed well in their constituencies or as ministers and now they have been ratified in their current constituency or have been ratified in another constituency.

Loretta Butler-Turner, Zhivargo Laing and Desmond Bannister are all FNM Cabinet ministers with lots of exposure to the Bahamian public, especially over the last four and a half years.  The fact that they are running in different areas speaks volumes to the way voters feel about them.  I can say for sure that Montagu residents won as a result of this move.  They will now be represented by Ben Albury, Richard Lightbourne or Frank Smith whenever the election results are posted.

Laing was embedded in controversy with the MonaVie product.  He is also the minister of state for finance in a time when the country saw downgrades from international financial agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.  Bannister I believe did not effectively raise the bar at the Ministry of Education even though he made some strides in protecting students from ‘predator’ teachers.  The audit findings from the Education Loan Authority audit last year have not been published and despite improprieties, there have been no reports of arrests or disciplinary action at the Ministry of Education although the loan fund has been grossly mismanaged.  Additionally, the national average continues to remain a D.

The PLP has ratified Shane Gibson as its candidate for Golden Gates.  Just recently, the major dailies printed numerous reports with regards to improprieties at the Ministry of Housing while Gibson was the minister.  Dr. Duane Sands, present chairman of the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, said Gibson should be held responsible for the myriad inconsistencies that occurred while Gibson was at the helm.

In a value for money audit conducted after the PLP left office, the auditors are quoted as saying, “Without such basic financial management controls, a vacuum of accountability exists.  The risk of misuse of funds is high”.  This information did not affect the ratification of Gibson as a candidate for the PLP in the upcoming general election.

Furthermore, PLPs advised by way of the media that Anthony Moss and Picewell Forbes were underperforming in their constituencies.  In fact, Keod Smith was campaigning in Forbes’ constituency until Perry Christie brought this fiasco to an abrupt end.  All of these candidates were ratified.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA), on the other hand, has had no candidate ever serve in Parliament save for Branville McCartney.  They did, however, rid themselves of two candidates who they said were under-performing.  Will they have the gumption to weed out other candidates who are now seemingly under-performing at this late hour?  Time will tell.

I think that just as persons are promoted on jobs for being effective, Members of Parliament should be judged by this same rule of thumb.  In fact Members of Parliament should be held to a higher standard.  If a Member of Parliament, a Cabinet minister or a candidate is under-performing, he should be given a chance to better execute his job.  If this fails then they should be fired and not transferred or promoted.

One of the major problems embedded in our culture is that we continually promote people for long service and or loyalty as opposed to their efficiency and effectiveness.

People who are ineffective in a post will never leave.  They must be forced out.  I firmly believe that the selection process of candidates is flawed and that the best candidate is not always selected to vie for a seat in Parliament.  The ratification of candidates is too leader centric and it appears that the councils for the major parties are not acting independently.  It can not be in 2012 that we are continuing to recycle bad candidates especially when the public record proves poor performance.

I say five years is enough time for voters to make a determination if an incumbent has done a good job.  And even when bad candidates are transferred to other constituencies and ratified, I want voters to know that this will not solve the candidate’s management deficiencies or the candidate’s previous poor performance.

 

– Dehavilland Moss

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