March 24, 2016 By Titus Boye-Thompson Communications Expert
It is easy to celebrate winners and scorn losers. This is politics and in this game, everybody wins. A famous political figure in England described his removal from office as an opportunity for him to spend some valuable and quality time with his family. The question would easily be asked of those who have lost office in the recent reshuffle in Sierra Leone whether they see themselves being more family conscious at this time of their recall from active duty.
The certainty of political office is that one day the office holder has to leave and another person takes his place. As someone said elsewhere, politics is the only profession where your highest achievement is reached when you are asked to leave. Having said this, the contention that the political class in Sierra Leone is questionably not prepared for the time to leave office, has concerned the minds of many a reasonable citizen.
In the current political dispensation we can find a range of individuals, locked into a cycle of blame and shame, some hopelessly seeking to be accorded office to which they may not even be suitable, but yet would go all out to decry others in position. The infighting that results from that kind of backstabbing was so widespread that it was an open secret that Ministers refused to get along with their deputies, even though they had specific roles to play in their respective positions as appointees of the President. The reshuffle gladly has put paid to that and it is the fervent hope that the country would not be taken to such low points as happened before when Ministers have to resort to verbal slanging matches and fisticuffs to get the President’s attention and incur his wrath.
There is no doubt that those who have been elevated have a duty and responsibility to the Nation. They come in with the people’s expectations and good wishes just as those who are bowing out would go with the inevitable good riddance, but sincerely, who are we to judge them, even for the worst of sins? It is unfortunate enough that we do not have Ministers or senior public officials who would resign on the fly, taking responsibility for things that go against their principles or even stand for a set of principles that the public would admire in the first place. However, where they have put themselves on the line to work in the best interest of the State, it is unfortunate for their exit has to be so unceremonious.
In their exit from public life is found the rigours of the calling of a politician in this dispensation. There are those who would go calmly without any fanfare or histrionics. No threats to reveal all or no snide comments at the leadership. To those lie the burden of leadership themselves and for their future to be a time for reflection on how and what went wrong. What decisions did they make to have earned such a distasteful encomium or what forces plotted and planned their downfall, they would be left to ponder. However, those who maintain a dignified posture, serve their communities in their time of need and continue to have relevance in the twists and turns of the dice would still be recalled to some other, higher positions. One such is that of an ex-Minister who has now been called up to an Ambassadorial posting.
While the country celebrates the newcomers and while others reflect on their re-assigned positions as not necessarily a demotion but a second chance, it is right that someone should ask about the welfare of those who are taking their exit. There should definitely be life after reshuffle. The truth is that in a house divided, there is always bound to be winners and losers.
There is a famous principle in Economics which is known as Pareto Optimality, and that principle says in effect that for there to be winners, some people should lose out and the only way to achieve an optimal situation in which the losers are reduced somewhat is for a third party intervention to level the field. Adam Smith had famously referred to such a third force as the ‘invisible hand’ which detects imbalances between supply and demand in a capitalist economy and allows for price to regulate any disparities between the two. Neo liberal politics suffers a major criticism for failing to allow for third party regulation of failures in its operational dynamics and therefore, those who happen to fall from grace have a tough time getting back up on their feet as there is no support structure for failed politicians to get them back into favour. However, in societies characterised by limited access orders, the main contextual arguments in politics are played out in constituencies and the relevance of such constituencies to those who can be described as the dominant coalitions.
Here lies a model for restructuring political dynamics after losing influence or power within the matrix of the state and its operations. In a shortened form, the model allows for those who can claim a legitimate support base that can become relevant to the dominant coalition to always be in contention at some point and hence their time in political wilderness would be expected to be short-lived. In the event, it would be difficult to write-off those who have served the President simply because they have not fared well in a Cabinet reshuffle. There are those whose political import remains significant even after leaving office. Recently, the revival of hitherto failed political careers has provided validation of the President’s conviction that for some, a second chance would be but fair and just. It is that fairness, justice and the respect for the dignity of others that demarcate the sense of levity that behoves the President in his decisions to review, after a time of quiet reflection, the prospects of bringing some people back to serve. It is also his sole prerogative to do so. He exercises his judgements well in such matters and cannot be blamed for being cautious. After all, on his shoulders lie the mantle of leadership and he who carries the crown, carries an uneasy head.