Caribbean Political Leaders should appoint members of opposing parties
Photo : Dr. Vishnu Bisram
An article in a Caribbean newspaper draws my attention to how political leaders in developed democratic countries reach out across the aisle to appoint members of another party in their cabinet or to other important positions or to head commissions or government agencies. Western governments seek out the best minds to manage state agencies. This bodes well for national development of a country. Political leaders tend to be magnanimous towards members of opposing parties. In developing countries, on the other hand, government tends to be very partisan; some are even racist towards opponents in multiethnic countries. Inevitably, these kind of governments don't attract the best brain for development and lag behind the developed world.
It is no accident that multi ethnic countries developing trail their developed counterparts. In multi-ethnic polarized countries like Guyana, Trinidad, Surinam, etc., governments appoint members of their ruling clan. In these countries, where talent and human resources are limited, ruling parties should reach across the political aisle and appoint supporters or members of other parties to important positions to promote development. Members of opposing ethnic groups should be treated with fairness and considered for appointments. The best and most talented people should be approached or selected to lead development projects, agencies and diplomatic offices to maximize use of resources. This will expedite development.
It is noted that in UK, America and Canada, Presidents and Prime Ministers don't have problems appointing members of opposing parties to lead critical projects. They recognize it us the most effective way to achieve development.
In the US, for example, former President Obama appointed Republicans into his otherwise Democrat Cabinet. Republican George Bush, before him, appointed Democrats in his cabinet and Ambassadors to important countries. Bill Clinton (Dem), George Bush Sr. (Rep), Ronald Reagan (Rep), Dwight Eisenhower (Rep), etc. all appointed members of an opposing political party to serve in cabinet and as Ambassadors and or to lead government Commissions and agencies. In Guyana, Trinidad and Surinam, such bi-partisanship is missing.
Political leaders in Guyana and in other Caribbean nations need to display political maturity like colleagues in developed nations. They should emulate the model of western nations by making appointments to agencies based on meritocracy and what is best for the country. Appointments must not be based solely on party or ethnic loyalty. Talent and competence must trump loyalty.