If there is one thing that can be said about Prime Minister Mia Mottley thus far, it is that she is not afraid to make tough decisions.
Following a violent start to 2019, which saw three deaths recorded in eight days, Mottley yesterday took a decision to relieve one of her ministers of some of his duties.
In a release from the Government Information Service, it was revealed that Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson had been relieved of a number of responsibilities related directly to law and order and they had been shifted to Attorney General Dale Marshall.
Hinkson, the member of parliament for St James North is no longer responsible for the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Forensic Services Centre, the Criminal Justice Research Unit and the Police Complaints Authority.
However, he still remains in charge of the Barbados Fire Service, Immigration, Post Office, Government Industrial School, National Council on Substance Abuse and the Prison Service.
Interestingly enough, no reasons were given for his dismissal.
And even though in a subsequent interview Hinkson said there had been discussions between himself and Mottley beforehand and he was in full agreement with the decision, one can’t help but suspect that the Prime Minister simply was not happy with his performance.
Some may argue that Hinkson’s ‘demotion’ might have been too soon, with the Barbados Labour Party administration less than eight months into its reign.
On the other hand, her swiftness in addressing the issue is a welcomed breath of fresh air.
At least a level of accountability is now being asked of ministers.
This is not to say Hinkson was in any way responsible for the violence that has permeated Barbados in the first 17 days of the year.
It seemed simply to be a case of Hinkson not being authoritative enough during his time at the helm.
While no one would have expected him to don a bulletproof vest, arm himself with an AK47 and parade through the streets promising to bring an end to the shootings and violence, his voice during the almost three-weeks of non-stop madness was evidently silent.
During the eight-year reign of the Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party administration, it was almost as if sometimes government had hit the autopilot button.
Stuart was as silent as ever as ministers were allowed to run their respective ministries in any way they wished without even the slightest hint of any repercussions.
But Mottley, who has made tough decisions since being elected into office on May 24, 2018, continues to carry on in the same vein.
Her ministers know full well that it is not business as usual and that they will be held responsible for their portfolios.
While sometimes it seemed as if getting a minister from the last administration to comment on a matter related to his or her ministry was like “pulling teeth”, Mottley has already demanded that her ministers address the media when contacted.
The Prime Minister’s forthright and no-nonsense approach has garnered the respect and support of not only her colleagues, but also Barbadians alike who had got accustomed to the silence of the past eight years.
Now that Hinkson has been relieved of some of his responsibilities and they have been passed on to Marshall, whose long portfolio also includes those of principal legal adviser to Government; law reform and law revision; court administration; legal aid; legal affairs; the court process office; Magistrates’ Courts; Registration Department; Supreme Court; Community Legal Service Commission; Rehabilitation of Offenders Board; Director of Public Prosecutions; Financial Intelligence Unit; Anti-Money Laundering Authority and the Family Law Council, it is left to be seen what changes will take place.
All eyes will now be on Marshall, who will know that nothing else but a hard stance will do.
His job is not an easy one, but Barbadians will expect that something will be done to address the crime situation and that Marshall will find a solution to the problem.
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