A little over a year ago, a very good friend of mine (a practising physician), who travels repeatedly to Jamaica, told me that our prime minister was incompetent. According to him, “all the man does is to play to the gallery. There was no policy position being implemented by him that redounds to transforming Jamaica in a way that benefits the average Jamaican”. He went on to point out that the PM had no real leadership skills and was not able to motivate his Cabinet to coalesce around life-changing issues for the least Jamaican. His focus, my friend said, was on self-preservation and satisfying those members of the Jamaican economic and social community from whom he and his hand-picked cabal members would score personal benefits.
Incompetence masked by the pandemic
My instinctive response was to push back on these representations, and I chided him for being harsh, acerbic even, but considering his background as a successful physician and businessman, and the length of our friendship I respected his forthrightness. As he stated at the time, just as the PM’s incompetence was beginning to show, along came COVID to mask his incompetence and, even then, to successfully navigate the ravages that would have come from the pandemic, what was needed was leadership, teamwork, and an ability to inspire the nation to come together and deal with the pandemic as a shared experience. In retrospect, we failed miserably, and the result has been 3,320 deaths or just about 1.15 per cent of the island’s population. It is the same way that we have continuously failed at managing the other raging epidemic in the country – crime, especially murder.
Providing excuses for the murder spiral
In the last seven years Jamaica has recorded 9,542 murders at an average of 1,371 per year. A close examination of the island’s murder statistics from 2002 to date shows that despite the Jamaica Labour Party’s public relations efforts, the administration’s handling of the crime portfolio has been abysmal. Over the period 2002-2007, Jamaica recorded an average 1.260 murders per year. By comparison, the JLP which held the country’s reins between 2007 – 2011 reported an average 1,456 or 196 more murders per year. The PNP between 2011 and 2016 reported an average of 1,163 murders or 293 murders less per year than the previous administrations. The JLP again took office in 2016 and during the 2016-2020 period reported an average 1,376 murders per year or 213 more murders per year than occurred under the PNP. The numbers for 2021 were even worse as the 1,463 murders recorded that year was 300 more than the PNP’s annual murder total. With a full two months remaining in 2022, we are already reporting over 1,200 murders and are again on track to surpass the previous years’ figures and still, the Holness led administration operates in a bubble of his own creation, flailing around on every available media platform to find any excuse on which to pin the blame, rather than taking responsibility and to provide leadership
Prosperity, but for whom?
Holness, it appears, wants us to believe that he is a master illusionist as he bounces from day to day with a battery of cameramen/women handing out keys to homes, cutting ribbons or making announcements aimed at giving the impression that all is well. A recent survey of Jamaican youth revealed that some 80 per cent of the sample would leave Jamaica if afforded the chance. Scores of young Jamaicans looking for better educational and employment opportunities would pack up and leave the island for anywhere but Afghanistan. This confirmation that a high number of Jamaicans would be ready to migrate given the opportunity, coming from a 2017 Digicel mobile youth survey which found that 81 per cent of Jamaicans between the ages of 14 and 40 would leave at the drop of a hat – if not before. The survey flies in the face of the Holness administration’s much touted “prosperity” platform as only well-to-do or politically connected Jamaicans are enjoying this promised prosperity while at the back end, historically persistent issues such as homelessness, squatting, disappearing opportunities remain. This is not helped by the administration’s heavy-handed demolition of squatter communities, or Juliet Holness’ disrespectful comments about Jamaicans in that ‘comrades’ (PNP supporters) only want to live among garbage dumps and along river courses. This while JLP elected officials milk the system to provide for their friends, families, and other politically connected persons.
To date, a record number of party insiders, members of Parliament, and other political appointees have been outed for corrupt practices including the misappropriation of billions of taxpayer dollars. From the yet to be explained Petrojam losses of J$5.2 billion on over 600,000 barrels of oil masked by the scandals, to the more than J$200 million swindle at the Caribbean Maritime University, J$124 million unaccounted for at the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of National Security’s J$250 million unfulfilled motor vehicle contract, the Ministry of Agriculture’s involvement in questionable land transactions, among others, demonstrates clearly that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum. It is no wonder that Jamaica ranks 44 on the corruption perception Index (CPI) as being among the most corrupt countries in the world. In these circumstances, it should not be surprising that a good 75 percent of the illegal guns and ammunition enters through the country’s main ports in Montego Bay and Kingston, yet our security apparatus has been unable to stem the flow of weapons into the island. All of this while the country’s leadership is yet to inspire confidence in its citizens at managing the island’s crime. Or is it that they are deliberately not trying because of the depths of the systemic corruption?
Maybe my friend was right all along
I must agree with my friend’s assessment that our Prime Minister is incompetent. For how else are we to explain the extent of our country’s slide? The past couple of months has provided a real epiphany; an illumination of the fact that SS Jamaica is out at sea, rudderless and with a deckhand at the wheel masquerading as a captain. Essentially, after 60 years of Independence, we are going nowhere. Visit our website at: www.yardabraawd.com and www.yaawdmedia.com