Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s decision to make changes to her Cabinet twice in the space of two years is not unusual, says political scientist Peter Wickham.
Contending that it was in Mottley’s power to do so, he said the biggest move in the reshuffle was the appointment of first-time Parliamentarian Corey Lane to a ministerial position.
During the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) 83rd Annual Conference over the weekend, Mottley announced Cabinet changes that would take effect on Wednesday.
“Our Prime Minister is entitled to a reshuffle as frequently or as infrequently as she may so desire. Remember under the administration of David Thompson we did have changes that were being made, and certainly, within the short space of time he was alive as Prime Minister he made changes, I think twice, so this is not abnormal,” Wickham, a political scientist and Director of the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) told Barbados TODAY.
“I get a sense that the Prime Minister has been considering making some changes for some time and I think that these ones are interesting. There is a deployment of professional talent in areas that in many instances we thought were more appropriate.”
However, he said the promotion of Lane, who is currently parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, to the Office of the Attorney General as Minister of State with responsibility for Crime Prevention was a major move.
He said it showed the Prime Minister had confidence in the social activist and young politician who entered Parliament for the first time after he won the City of Bridgetown seat in the January 2022 elections.
“I think that is significant for two reasons – one, Corey Lane is young and he is now a full Cabinet minister, a Minister of State, and the other point is he is taking up a challenge in relation to crime prevention.
“What that says to me is that Corey Lane seems to know a bit about the aspect of crime prevention that is not well known, which is essentially gainfully occupying persons that may be at risk. If he is able to engage at-risk youth in a situation where they are constructively engaged, then it is unlikely they will commit crime and this is an angle that I support entirely,” Wickham said.
Dr Kristina Hinds, a Senior Lecturer in Political Science and Head of the Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work and Psychology at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus described Lane’s placement as “interesting”.
“The crime issue is one that I don’t think we are going to tackle very easily and to me, it illustrates that the Attorney General obviously needs some support and it looks like they are trying a new strategy to see what we can do in the country about crime. I don’t know how effective it will be but it’s worth a try,” she said.
Overall, she was surprised at the Cabinet changes coming less than a year after the general elections but said some moves were more understandable than others.
“I think that placing Ian Gooding-Edghill in tourism looks like a better fit because of his background and experience so I understand that one and one could also assert that having Senator Dr The Honourable Jerome Walcott lead the Ministry of Health also seems like a better fit. I think those are two reasonable changes,” Dr Hinds said.
“The switch between Minister Symmonds and Senator Cummins is one I find a little bit surprising and unexpected,” she said, referring to Senator Lisa Cummins, who is the current Minister of Tourism, being named Minister of Energy and Business Development with responsibility for International Business and Trade, replacing Senior Minister Kerrie Symmonds who will be the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
Respected political scientist Dr George Belle described Mottley’s reshuffle as “unorthodox” but said she had her own way of doing things.
“The Prime Minister has some unorthodox approaches to politics. If we go back to when she called the elections, there are some people who wondered why she called the election at the time that she did, but she called the election and she destroyed the political career of Verla DePeiza.
“I don’t see anything that is of real substance in that Cabinet reshuffle but she went ahead and did a Cabinet reshuffle. She knows what is going on in the Cabinet and what is going on in the BLP in a way that we would not know, but it is also in terms of her mind and how her mind works politically and she has been a very successful politician,” Dr Belle said. (RB)