It is to the credit of the People’s National Movement (PNM) that its leader on winning the 2020 general elections has signaled that he may step down before the next general election. This is quite commendable in that it gives others the opportunity to prove their mettle to assume leadership. On the other hand, the leader of the United National Congress (UNC) took almost one week to concede defeat. Whilst there may be electoral issues to address, it seemed quite obvious that recounts would not change the winning party.
Having declared his intention to pass the baton to someone else, on or before the next general elections, the Prime Minister (PM), as leader of the governing party, must be very mindful that he does not fall victim to a particular leadership issue of favouritism, especially if the “favoured one” is considered a non-performer by national entities.
If not managed properly, there could be major fallouts and issues with governance of the country by the new government, in that some would-be aspirants to leadership will tell the Prime Minister, what he wants to hear, in hopes that they would become favourable to him. This would not augur well for the country, which will inevitably suffer if this were to occur..
Similarly, the UNC as Opposition also have these issues to address and must be very careful, based on post-election comments that many believe that they can assume leadership of the party, leading to a “crabs in a barrel” mentality as jostling occurs to become the next leader, even though there is no vacancy.
Would-be aspirants should utilise this interim period to showcase their leadership capabilities. Next year’s internal elections are due and the general membership will have their say in whom they wish to see as their leader. It is therefore incumbent upon the MPs and Senators of the UNC to showcase their value in parliament through their debates, by bringing national attention to their contributions. This will heighten their visibility and put them in a favourable position to be seriously considered for leadership of the party in 2021.
Whilst both the government and opposition have their leadership challenges, the PM has put some “new wine in old bottles” in hopes of addressing ills in the economy as well as performance management issues. Given that lessons have been learnt from the previous five years, the expectation is that this second chance at governance will result in far better performance. It is therefore incumbent upon the PM, if it was not being done previously, to be more flexible in decision-making considering the current difficult economic environment and to ensure that he provides periodic feedback and gauges performance through an effective performance appraisal system.
Transformational leadership to enable growth and innovation is a must for both main political parties to make T&T a more progressive nation.
Harjoon Heeralal, Carapichaima