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Editorial – An emotion turning back on itself

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

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The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team.  – Knute Rockne, reputedly the greatest American college football coach ever.
IT WOULD HARDLY BE UNGRACIOUS personifying hysteria in Dr David Estwick, his emotionalism ever sitting uneasily before the body of soberness. After all, we are not unaccustomed to the dear doctor’s unbridled outbursts.
But to what good are they? And what did the former Minister of Economic Affairs expect of his tantrums on Thursday night after the Prime Minister’s change
of his Cabinet portfolio?
Almost immediately after Thursday night’s announcement that he was being given the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business, Dr Estwick blew the gasket; he would go for a Press conference in the dark of night.
Wisely – hardly unwisely – he would postpone his wild excursion into media land reportedly by the successful persuasion of colleagues.
The compromise would be a Press briefing the following Friday evening.
As it turned out, Dr Estwick’s promise to be full and frank was tamed into an acceptance of his new ministerial responsibilities; a prayer that the new Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler would consider his previous recommendations to Cabinet on the economy; and an implicit doxology to the party.
At least, for now!
In some quarters it is felt Dr Estwick had some justification for his explosions; that he was not forewarned of his change of ministerial circumstances by his leader. If so, that is unfortunate. But it is not unknown that for purposes of “strategy” and sometimes “finality” Prime Ministers have shuffled colleagues suddenly and decisively.
The Prime Minister, as primus inter pares, has the authority to appoint and disappoint. Dr Estwick must know this. And ministers of Cabinet, apart from whatever talents or competencies they may have, must be possessed of tolerance.
They may not agree personally with some management decisions of their leader – the first among equals – but they must not undermine that authority of special importance that resides in the Prime Minister.
Over time “first among equals” has come to understate the powers of Prime Minister that these days include broad exclusive and executive powers.
That as it may be, it is not exemplary that a Prime Minister’s Cabinet ministers should show such hostile disagreement with their leader on his appointments. Not only is it a blatant signal of intolerance, it is a manifestation too of fanatical self-orientation by griping, with tragic chances for party triangulation.
Generally our national leaders, politicians included, need to practise tolerance more: at worst, the decent manner of accepting something while still disapproving of it.
We go back to Knute Rockne who as a coach ever played “not my eleven best, but my best eleven”.
The rub is in teamwork.