Seabreeze MP Lanisha Rolle resigned from Cabinet yesterday, becoming the fourth minister to do so this term.
While Rolle did not provide an explanation in her resignation letter, which was addressed to the governor general, a statement from the Cabinet Office said: “Certain matters have been brought to the attention of the prime minister and are under investigation.”
In her letter, Rolle, who was minister of youth, sports and culture, said: “Today, I tender my resignation as minister of the government of The Bahamas. I am pleased to have opened and bookmark this chapter of my book of national service to the good people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
However, Rolle said she will continue to represent the Seabreeze constituency to the best of her ability and thanked Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis for giving her the opportunity to serve.
“The contract I signed with the voters of Seabreeze on election day was for a period of five years or until or unless a new member of Parliament is seated,” she said.
“Therefore, I remain focused and committed to fully performing my part of the contract. I vowed to represent the Seabreeze constituency as the sitting member of Parliament for Seabreeze, and I will continue to keep my word to do the best that I can, for as many as I can, for as long as I can.”
According to the Cabinet Office statement, Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis will be appointed as the minister of youth, sports and culture.
Lewis has been serving as minister of state for disaster preparedness, management and reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
“Minister Lewis will demit his post as minister of state in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, which remains under the ministerial portfolio of the prime minister,” the statement said.
Since she entered politics, Rolle has been a controversial figure at times.
She resigned from the Senate in 2016. Though she cited personal reasons, her resignation came amid controversy that had surrounded her.
In 2018, Minnis removed Rolle from the Ministry of Social Services amid reports that she was not getting along with the staff.
Rolle’s father, Derek Thompson, who was outside the Cabinet Office yesterday, claimed her resignation came after she was advised she will not be renominated.
“She called me last night and she said…[Attorney General] Carl Bethel told her that the prime minister said she will not be running,” Thompson said.
He accused Minnis of abandoning one of his biggest supporters.
“I came here today because my daughter, she is the one who helped Hubert Minnis to win,” he said.
“We made sure our prime minister is a prime minister. We sacrificed for our prime minister. We want to know from Bain and Grants Town and from all over, honorable prime minister, where is your heart? Where is your respect for people who helped you?”
Rolle was the only woman Minnis appointed to Cabinet upon assuming office in 2017.
The resignations of ministers have been for various reasons.
St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette resigned as minister of financial services, trade and industry and immigration in July 2019, saying he was preparing for political retirement.
Elizabeth MP Dr. Duane Sands resigned as minister of health in May 2020, following his controversial decision to allow six permanent residents to disembark on New Providence and quarantine at home in breach of the emergency order.
East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest resigned from his post as minister of finance in November 2020 amid allegations that he helped to defraud two companies of around $28 million. He has strongly denied those claims.
Outside Cabinet yesterday, some ministers expressed their continued confidence in the Minnis administration.
Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd said he believes the government remains on good footing.
“I don’t have any concern about the FNM administration,” he said.
“We are a committed administration to the advancement of the Bahamian people. And I am very confident about the leadership of Hubert Alexander Minnis and what he has done during these past four years.”
Lloyd wished Rolle well.
“She is a former member of our team, a member still of the parliamentary team,” he told reporters.
“They are members of the Free National Movement. The best wishes I have for her.”
While Deputy Prime Minister Desmond Bannister did not comment specifically on Rolle’s resignation, he said, “This is an administration that I believe is on very sure footing.”’
Bannister added, “In any Cabinet, you’re going to see resignations. In any Cabinet, not everyone is going to make the full five-year term. But this Cabinet will be judged on the basis of what we have done.”
In addition to four resignations from Cabinet, three MPs, most recently Speaker of the House Halson Moultrie, resigned from the FNM.