At the adjournment of last week’s House of Assembly sitting, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet rushed to Hewanorra Airport en-route to the UK. From there he was to fly to Morocco (his second visit since assuming office) for meetings on climate change and other matters of national interest. Since his reelection Minister Guy Joseph has been in constant motion. Storm Matthew visited, but did not diminish his appetite for finishing the job at St. Jude Hospital. To nearly everyone’s surprise materials related to the Vieux Fort hospital were stored in places like Grand Riviere, Gros-Islet. Wow! All private premises to boot! Minister Ezekiel Joseph has had to deal with the blow delivered by Matthew to the banana industry. Minister Flood-Beaubrun and Senator Hermangild Francis have been busy correcting the mess left this government by its predecessor. So, too, has Minister Ubaldus Raymond, the go-to man at Finance. He has been working tirelessly to follow the rigid suggestions to right the economy, as suggested by experts from the World Bank, IMF, CDB and OECS Central Bank from whom the government had sought advice.
Other government ministers are equally hard at work. Gale Rigobert is setting the foundation for a complete revamping of education and training. Recently, Minister Stephenson King was in Soufriere extending the reach of his Labour portfolio to the west and south of the island. Minister Lenard Spider Montoute has kept his fingers on the pulse of things, although the STEP workers at Bonne Terre seem determined to sabotage his efforts. Ministers Bradley and Dominic Fedee are obviously intent on success. Indeed, every minister of the government seems at full throttle. Their enthusiasm has been palpable. At the health ministry Mary Isaac is as determined as ever to open the new EU hospital. The passion of these men and women is daily manifested.
There is however, a great danger lurking which they all need to be aware of. I refer to blind devotion to work that leaves time for little else, including family and personal health. People appreciate ministers of government who give their all for their constituents and the nation. Many citizens depend on the government for job creation, providing opportunities for personal advancement, scholarships and health care. An energized government tries to do the right thing by giving 100 percent effort to righting the wrongs that need correcting. Still, the pressure from a shameless and failed opposition mounts as desperate political hacks on radio and television, continue to spread false information. That’s what the opposition party does best – spread lies with impunity!
The following advice is therefore offered free to those who need it. By all means give service to your constituents and the nation your full and undivided attention, Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Work hard, devoting quality time to the tasks at hand. However, resolve never to take the office home with you. Make time for family, especially if you are a mother or father of small children. Do not sacrifice your family for politics or anything else. If the two conflict, give up politics! Pace yourself, you will be of little use to the nation if your health fails. Remember, no matter how hard you work there will be more to do after you retire from politics.
Learn quickly those whom you can trust and delegate authority to them. Do not micro-manage! Grasp broad policy outlines and appreciate the plan and programme of execution. Don’t allow yourselves to be intimidated. Don’t let any person or thing frustrate your work. The best job of government is that which brings permanent relief to people. Speak truth fearlessly; never lie!
A resolute, calm and determined leader is not easily frustrated. Indeed, a keen political leader will discover that obstacles, whether man-made or acts of nature, such as storms, are the paths to success. A firm and determined leader with the right approach and the support of strong constituents and family can break through most obstacles.
Stay in close touch with your constituents, especially those who campaigned and helped get you elected. Being a Member of Parliament is obviously a great honour but there is more to life than political accolades. Stay united! There’s nothing quite as effective as greed when it comes to setting people against one another. Avoid it at all cost. Persons who share an ideology and who remain focused are less likely to fall apart, regardless of circumstances. Politics is about sacrifice, not about the selfish accumulation of trinkets. Putting people first should be a constant prayer.
Be prepared to sit with the media and answer legitimate questions about your work and your vision for the country and your constituency. Regular questions and answers keep people informed and fill the vacuum which political hacks and opponents depend on for survival.
I was tempted to begin this article with my favorite quotation from Holy Writ. Instead, I end with it as an offer to the government for further reflection. It is taken from Isaiah: (ch. 40 vs. 30 and 31). “Even those who are young grow weak; young men can fall exhausted. But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” By the way, I did the opposite of most of what I’ve suggested above and continue to pay paid dearly.