For those who play card games, the result of a good shuffle is the start to winning the game. Admittedly, it takes more than good cards to win—luck and strategy play a vital role in eventual success. Well, in politics, it is important to deal the right people in Cabinet in the first round because it becomes difficult when people have settled and become accustomed to the fancy life and blue lights to request that they leave with dignity and unhurt pride. Last year, when the talk of a shuffle surfaced, there was great unease and discomfort within the ranks. It was reported that on the evening the moves were announced there were some red faces, in some cases because of overwhelming pride and others caused by effective demotion. The explanation that the shifting of portfolios and changing of faces were all an effort to have the best fits was accepted by those who realised that the coalition was experiencing teething troubles.
The Prime Minister, who likened her position to that of a CEO, gave the assurance that she would ensure that all members of her political team operated at an optimum. The Prime Minister stated that the adjustments to her players was not an indictment against individual or collective performance but rather an opportunity to better place individuals and streamline ministries. And in all fairness, it can be no easy task managing five entities which sometimes present competing interests. So, while the decision to shuffle so early in the term came as a surprise, and was met with significant negative comment, many were prepared to turn a blind eye and let the new configuration get to work on the delivery of campaign promises. Recently, there was an indication that within a short time there will be another Cabinet shuffle. Rumours are already rife as to those who will be spending their last days in office and some who will be enjoying an expanded or enhanced portfolio. Of course the blue-eyed boys and girls have nothing to worry about and these individuals are easily identifiable because their faces show no sign of worry or tension.
On the other hand, some of their colleagues are wearing perpetual frowns and are no longer walking with the strides of arrogance that have become a hallmark for this administration. Perhaps they are only now learning the lesson that power does not last forever and the need to be humble at all times, especially when serving in high office. The legs of many people who were appointed through the Senate must be shaking because, unlike the members of the Lower House, senators are not guaranteed security of tenure. And in any event, if there are new faces to be given ministerial positions, then they must be made senators so some current members will have to vacate their seats. If, however, the shuffle is limited to the use of existing members, then there is no need for panic on the part of those who fear imminent departure. In the Westminster type of government, a Cabinet shuffle is usually a last resort used by the Prime Minister, because on the face of it the exercise of this option suggests that poor choices were made in the first instance. The fact that there is going to be a second shuffle in the second year of its term raises serious questions about whether this coalition is capable of providing the good governance that it has repeatedly promised.
Unfortunately, this Government has made far too many unforced errors and can blame no one but itself for its dwindling political stocks. The People’s Partnership must realise that it was voted into office to replace a regime that had lost its way and was tainted with serious allegations of corruption. The same could be said of this coalition which in record time has managed to trample on the good will of the people. There are some ministers who acknowledge that the coalition is guilty of disappointing the high public expectation and perhaps their heads will be the first to roll when the axe of the monarch is swung. At least the Prime Minister has graciously indicated that before she shuffles she will be speaking with each of her ministers individually and it is anticipated that during these sessions, members will be given the opportunity to account for their stewardship. For some individuals, the discussion may revolve around alternative employment or the option of appointments to the diplomatic corps. The population is hedging bets that Minister Dookeran will be replaced with Minister Vasant Bharath, the latter having proven that he is extremely intelligent and up to the task of kick-starting the economy. Minister Warner, who is undeniably popular and best described as an action man, will do well wherever he is positioned, so it is expected that this trump card will not be misused or wasted. As the clock ticks, the country awaits the fate of the ministers but more importantly, as time passes, we are one step closer to the next general election. From the perspective of the PP, this is not the time to shuffle badly.