Sat | Aug 13, 2022

Mark Wignall | What was the point, Kamina?

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2022 | 12:09 AM
Johnson Smith
Johnson Smith

Minister Kamina Johnson Smith suffered an embarrassing loss in the race for Commonwealth secretary general last week. The three-vote loss is immaterial. Bright and as exceedingly accomplished as the foreign affairs and foreign trade minister is,...

Minister Kamina Johnson Smith suffered an embarrassing loss in the race for Commonwealth secretary general last week. The three-vote loss is immaterial. Bright and as exceedingly accomplished as the foreign affairs and foreign trade minister is, she failed to detect the hidden hand of political perversity that is always a feature of political campaigns.

In plain language, People’s National Party (PNP) President Mark Golding was spot on. She never “have di ting lock”. If our Kamina decided to test the waters in representative politics she would know that trying to win a seat in the hills of St Catherine is not the same as jetting off to Kigali in Rwanda to tilt at a political windmill

For the sake of clarity, The Commonwealth Secretariat is the intergovernmental organisation that supports 54 member countries to achieve the Commonwealth’s aims of development, democracy and peace.

Based on only few Jamaicans who knew of anything named Commonwealth Secretariat, I would imagine that if it and Mrs Johnson Smith’s exposure to political misadventure were explained to them they would probably ask, “Whey inna it fi wi?”

Jamaica is not exactly the economic basket case that it was under the PNP’s poor policy formation/management of the 1990s and beyond, but widespread criminality and a badly broken education system persists. And it persists. Hmmm? Development, democracy and peace? A country in the 60th year of its independence needs a more substantial economic and infrastructural resume to boast of.

Our democracy remains firm even if lesser numbers of the voting population actually bother to vote in elections. Peace? What does that really mean? Maybe I ought to care more about closing my doors at night simply because there are too many households who struggle with the fear of another eruption of gang warfare and automatic gunfire. Staring at it from both directions, it seems to me that locked doors and sleep is not the issue.

On the basis that there is no war declared between the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the PNP, Jamaica is at peace. We have not been invaded by Lime Cay so we are at peace. But finally, on the basis that gang activity and boiling, uncontrollable anger in too many households will surely add to the murder rate tomorrow we cannot be at peace.

LET’S HEAR THE AUTOPSY RESULTS

It is typical that political parties and political campaigns which lose elections are expected to conduct an ‘autopsy’ to explain how ‘di ting neva lock’.

So because our lady Kamina went jetting off on the taxpayers’ dime, the JLP administration must conduct this in the next two weeks and share the results with the nation, including the overall spend.

What I would hope is excluded from the autopsy is any reference to Minister Morgan’s bawling that the Opposition PNP had launched some form of underhanded agitprop in favour of assisting Johnson Smith to falter. In other words, the PNP was fighting against the Kamina challenge.

Minister Morgan, as the point person in Information in the JLP administration, I would advise you to go dark on this. Just drop it.

Here are the reasons. If it is really so, its admission cuts into what has been perceived nationally as a top-class campaign machinery in the JLP. Why did the JLP campaign stand aside and not push back effectively? Second, the opposition PNP cannot find its political morning slippers on most days and you, Mr Morgan and the rest of JLP, including the prime minister, are always seizing the opportunity to remind us of those deficiencies. So, how did the PNP play you so skilfully?

OTHER POWERFUL HANDS IN THE POT?

He is long retired from extended stints in diplomatic posts and studies in international relations. When we made contact by phone mid last week he said, ‘The JLP can try to paint it as a noble adventure but it was embarrassing. Second, where is the political astuteness? It is clear the UK was the main ‘driver’ of the effort to unseat Baroness Scotland. Boris Johnson and his crew? Really? Australia and New Zealand had a hand in the pot too, but the UK was the main agitator. What was PM Holness thinking?’

“We expect our political leaders to enter the events where the chance of losing is assessed as much less than winning,” I said. He agreed then said,

“You wrote about the people of Jamaica being more concerned about the price of chicken back than KJS’s campaign. How right you were. But it did cost Jamaica money. I heard that a PR firm was paid almost US$100,000 a month for three months of PR work for KJS’s campaign. Money spent badly?”

One surprisingly politically astute man seated on a barstool last week asked me? “Is the UK going to give back the money to Jamaica for that useless campaign?”

DEATH PENALTY OR…?

Reports that the man held for the gruesome murders of a mother and her four children in Coco Piece in Clarendon has been roughed up while behind bars may be true or made-up stuff. But the mood of the country on assimilating these murders has brought many Jamaicans to their default setting.

We need blood to be shed, not just as the crudest response in honouring the lives of those brutally taken away, but nothing else can be done to satisfy many of us.

“Me ready fi bruk him neck,” said a welder to me.

“No, no!” another man nearby shouted. “Put him inna ants nest and cover him with honey. Mek him feel di death a crawl up pon him.”

Many Jamaicans want the death penalty to be instantly activated. And they are not in the mood to entertain any discussions of human rights.

“So whey YOU think?” asked a young woman with a spliff in one side of her mouth as she played a slot machine. I smiled.

“This is not the time for me to give you my position on capital punishment. Especially because so many people here are prodding me to a position that makes me uncomfortable. Mi wi tell yu next week,” I said.

- Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com.