Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Do The Right Thing...Jump!

A few days ago, a journalism friend sent me some articles relating to accountability of prominent persons, prompted by the public rolling of heads in the US related to a bad decision to let Air Force One buzz the Statue of Liberty and send Manhattan into an understandable panic. I retorted that often in the Caribbean those in charge do not seem to have a moral compass that points them toward sacrificing themselves on matters of principle or morals. My impression is that people in high position are happy to posture and, judging from public (non) reaction, it would seem that this is not outside what is expected.

Another acquaintance commented that "For some accountability usually measures the character or goodwill of the individual or organization. For others the political risks or expedience dictate the action of others. In this situation the gains are obvious and big. For [some Prime Ministers in Barbados] firing ministers made them look big even though the deeds were not so clear. Clearly in politics it is a variable that is decided by timing and context. For the West Indies cricket Board it is perhaps the absence of shame and the fuel of ego."

It was interesting, therefore, to read two stories this morning. The first related to the resignation of Henry Gill as head of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), which is based in Barbados, and has recently had its mandate and authority diminished by a meeting of Caricom heads of government (see Jamaica Gleaner report). CRNM will now become a special unit of the Caricom Secretariat. "I believe that the new dispensation for the functioning of the CRNM that the Conference mandated at its 20th inter-sessional meeting could best be given effect under new leadership," Mr. Gill said in a statement issued from Barbados, where he is based. Gill ahd been in the post about a year. Having long survived sniping at its autonomy, CRNM faced an onslaught of criticism for its performance in negotiating the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union on the part of CARIFORUM (the 15-member Caribbean Community and the Dominican Republic). So, Mr. Gill says that he is the wrong man for the job and he will vacate post haste.

The second report relates to West Indies cricket captain, Chris Gayle, who made public statements yesterday that he may quit Test cricket (see BBC report). Mr. Gayle was criticised by his opposing England captain for his arrival for Test duty only two days before the matches, following his involvement in the Indian Premier League. But Mr. Gayle does not see that his actions require anything more than putting his critics in their place and replied that leaving Test cricket would be no great shakes: "Maybe Andrew Strauss would be sad if Test cricket dies and Twenty20 comes in because there is no way he can make the change. So tough luck." Note that in the first of two Tests, which England won by 10 wickets, Mr. Gayle made 28 runs and a duck in his two innings.

Mr. Gayle suggested that the captaincy is not something he has relished, since taking it over in 2008:

"To be honest with you there's a possibility I might give it up - I will be giving it up shortly...It's definitely not something I'm looking to hang on to. I need some time for myself, to be honest with you, it's a lot of travelling...There's always something you have to go and do, you know, extra. Lunch or dinner, some other thing, there's always something for the captain...I'm not that type of person. I can't take on too many things. So, soon I will be handing over this captaincy. I will soon finish with it."

Well, well. Imagine that you have to do more than train, and play, and get the money. Imagine that the public and sponsors might see that they need something more than seeing you run around in coloured pyjamas for several days. But, Mr. Gayle's attitude does not seem so odd when you consider how others related to West Indies cricket have reacted recently when asked to come to account. The debacle with the waterlogged pitch in Antigua? Stuff happens. The snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory by Coach Dyson? Stuff happens. Good bedfellows all.

For me, these are interesting contrasts. On the one hand, Mr. Gill sees that he does not fit and has said that he cannot continue with the arrangement, so will pack his bags forthwith and head off to new (or old) pastures. On the other hand, Mr. Gayle has said a lot about not fitting and not liking the arrangement, but is doing nothing but leave a set of threats that he might leave. Both show leadership of very different sorts.

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