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The reshuffled cabinet must deliver!

Madi Jobarteh is a Gambian civil society activist

A Cabinet reshuffle is not fanfare or a picnic. Anytime a sitting president or prime minister reshuffles his or her cabinet it is because that cabinet is not performing as expected or desired. Hence the president would reshuffle the cabinet by removing some members, bringing in new members and rotating other members. Cabinet reshuffle is therefore an act and a process of refreshing the entire government in order to overcome inherent constraints and poor performance. Without saying it, it is clear that Barrow’s cabinet was severely constrained and underperforming since it was formed hence the reshuffling on June 29.

When Barrow took office as president on 19 January 2017 and constituted his cabinet, there have been several issues and concerns raised by citizens about his government ranging from poor delivery of basic social services, incidences of corruption and patronage, indecisiveness and abuse of power as well as the slow pace of system change. Many citizens took to social media to sound the alarm bell while others decided to protest on the streets or utilise other means to alert the president about the wrong path his government has been treading ever since.

Now it appears Barrow himself has noticed that his government is severely constrained in meeting its objectives and he has therefore decided to reshuffle his cabinet. For that matter, the reshuffling indicates that indeed Barrow understood that the bug stops with him; that he has to take responsibility to determine and control his government towards meeting national expectations. In that regard, it is important that we impress on Barrow that there are no more excuses for him. When ministers fail or underperform it is his responsibility just as when they did well he will take credit for that too.

I hope that with this reshuffling we will now see real system change in the government characterised by efficiency, responsiveness and accountability across the board. Pres. Barrow and his Vice President-designate Darboe indeed know where the Gambia came from and what experiences we encountered and how we got to where we are today. Hence with the two of them at the helm, there is absolutely no excuse why the government should not deliver.

If anything, we can confirm that former VP Fatoumatta Tambajang did not deliver as expected but served as a stumbling block to the progress of this government. Hence we do not expect the same from Ousainou Darboe. I do not see anyone in this new cabinet that has more capacity in every sense of the word than he. Hence as the second person in charge, his expertise, experience and competence must now show.

As Vice President-designate (since he has not taken the prescribed oath of office yet), Ousainou Darboe must be reminded that if President Barrow fails it is entirely the responsibility of the Vice President and the Ministers. The Constitution has stipulated in Section 74 that the VP and Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the National Assembly for any advice given to the president in Cabinet. This means the VP and the Ministers must tell the president the truth and give him good advice. This means if the president fails it is because the VP and the Ministers had failed in the first place to give the president good advice and guidance.

Therefore the failure of this government since January 2017 can be definitely attributed to the failure of the former VP and Ministers in the former Cabinet for failing to give good advice and guidance to the president. The current VP-designate was part of those ministers. They all failed to provide the necessary leadership, management and performance of their departments to ensure system change.

This reshuffling is therefore an opportunity for the current VP-designate and the Ministers to redeem themselves in standing up to perform their duties as stipulated in the Constitution. They must now realise that today they must not fail in giving good advice to the president. And where the president fails to adhere to their advice, the honourable thing they must do is to resign from their positions. Otherwise they bear responsibility for any failure by the government.

For the Gambia Our Homeland

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