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7 reasons Montague should resign (or be reassigned)

Canute
Thompson

Thursday, January 11, 2018

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Robert “Bobby” Montague never wanted to be the minister of national security and he has given at least seven reasons for which he should be asked to resign or be reassigned. There are three characteristics that make for an effective, and possibly a great leader. These are integrity, results, and respect for self and others. Regrettably, Minister Montague has displayed failures on all three counts, across the seven reasons, which I think warrant his removal from office.

(1) The minister of national security must be above reproach when it comes to matters of how security issues (as well as other issues) are handled. In August 2016, the minister promised to conduct an investigation into how two men who were under the witness protection programme, in relation to allegations of murder involving a politician, were removed from the programme. To date that report is not provided. The failure to be upfront on a matter like this goes to the heart of whether we can trust the actions of the ministry of national security.

(2) The minister frequently proclaims that he is not responsible for the operations of the police force, but responsible for policy; and he is right. But now serious allegations have surfaced, thanks to the Police Officers' Association, pointing to interference by the minister. The alleged acts of interference include deciding which police locations are to get what cars and publicly commenting on promotions in the police force. Such conduct crosses the line not only in terms of the respect that the minister is expected to show for the office of the commissioner of police, but the credibility of the minister's words, or his grasp of the distinction between policy and operations.

(3) By practice the commissioner of police and senior members of his team meet with the minister each Monday morning. Despite this, it seemed okay with the minister to announce to the media that he had summoned the commissioner of police to his office for a meeting on January 8, 2018. Why was it necessary to make that announcement? To show that he is in charge or to deflect responsibility for the current mess in national security? Either way, the approach smacks of disrespect and loss of mental control.

(4) In the wake of the Palisadoes road debacle, the minister of national security demanded a report from the commissioner of police. That report was provided, and the minister was not satisfied. Though having the ability to pick up the phone and call the commissioner of police or sending an e-mail, the commissioner of police was to hear of the minister's dissatisfaction through the media. What kind of leader habitually seeks to embarrass and humiliate members of his team? Scholars and executive coaches suggest that it is a leader who is insecure, not producing results (thus prone to blaming others) and a leader who lacks respect for members of his team.

(5) The Police Officers' Association and the rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force have thrown their support behind the commissioner of police. In a context in which there is an apparent stand-off between the commissioner of police and the minister, the only reasonable interpretation of the position of the members of the police force is loss of confidence in the minister. This situation raises the spectre of the moral authority of the minister to provide leadership of the portfolio.

Surely the minister will have the legal authority over the force so long as the prime minister leaves him in that post, but confidence and respect cannot be won by legal authority alone, and thus there is now a national crisis concerning the minister's capacity to lead.

(6) Then there was the botched used car purchase and the possible leak of taxpayers' money, not to mention the promise that we would get four used cars for the price of one new one. This speaks to results.

(7) Finally, the act of poor judgement in which the minister of national security shared stage with a man who was at the time charged with, and later convicted of, murder.

Dr Canute Thompson is head of the Caribbean Centre for Educational Planning, lecturer in the School of Education, and co-founder and chief consultant for the Caribbean Leadership Re-Imagination Initiative, at The University of the West Indies, Mona. He is also author of three books and several articles on leadership. Send comments to the Observer or canutethompson1@gmail.com.

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