Editorial: A Resignation That Could Have Been Avoided

A DAY of political drama ended in a short statement last night.

“I have accepted the resignation of Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands effective tomorrow,” wrote Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. “I thank him for his service to The Bahamas, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

With that, the ministerial career of Dr Sands came to an end – at least for now. One needs only to look at Dr Sands’ personal history of coming back to battle for the Elizabeth constituency seat three times, and running as deputy leader twice, to see that he doesn’t give up easily.

It was a swift turnaround in events. On Sunday, Dr Sands told The Tribune he would not resign. On Monday, he offered his resignation.

The day itself was slightly confused by a letter that circulated on social media earlier in the day, claiming that Dr Sands had offered his resignation and Dr Minnis had declined it. Dr Sands took to Facebook to say that statement was not legitimate – before later posting his real letter of resignation.

Then, shortly before 10 o’clock last night, came the statement from Dr Minnis, accepting the resignation and stating that a replacement minister will be named today.

The resignation comes at the worst time, of course. In the middle of this pandemic, there was a certain reassurance that the head of the health ministry and the head of the government were both doctors. Offering the resignation was the right thing to do. Once Dr Sands accepted the responsibility, the Westminster system requires him to offer his resignation. Too many have failed to live up to that before him, it is notable that he did so.

Dr Sands had been a steady figure at the briefings by the Ministry of Health, giving straight answers and offering a clear voice telling Bahamians what needed to be done to curtail this virus. Agree with him or disagree, he was consistent and clear in urging people to wash their hands, stay physically distant, not to go out unless they needed to and to wear masks. His successor will have to provide the same clarity.

With a change at the top of the ministry, it is essential that we do not stumble in the battle against COVID-19. Key advisors such as Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, Dr Pearl McMillan, Dr Nikkiah Forbes and Dr Delon Brennen will be important to whoever picks up the baton.

We also hope it causes no interruption in the efforts to secure much-needed supplies for The Bahamas.

That’s the real shame in all of this – that just at a time when the tide is turning, a failure to ask enough questions or check the details has ended the appointment of a key part of the team dealing with the pandemic. Simply follow the right procedure with discipline and we wouldn’t be here.

This week could have been the turning point, the moment we look back on in years to come when the country started to recover – instead it will always have a footnote this was the moment the Minister of Health resigned over his handling of a breach of border protocol.

We await the statement from Dr Minnis today – with hopefully less confusion than today’s announcements. He must reassure the public the effort to fight COVID-19 will not be derailed – and his choice of minister will hit the ground running. We wish the successor luck.


TalRussell 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Noticeably the Editor, didn't much wish to speculate whether it goin' be's comrade Dion, Kwesi, or Caril Wilshire, exiting the upper chamber?


ConchFretter 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes? No?? Comrade Russell, looks like the editor guessed right as the PM himself will take on the duties of Minister of Health! http://www.tribune242.com/news/2020/m...">http://www.tribune242.com/news/2020/m...


mandela 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Agreed, so sad that he didn't feel it necessary to fallow procedure like everyone else is supposed to, now the 6 person landing must also be made to pay for breaking the curfew, unauthorized landing and just as the person who wanted to get food during the curfew caught, charged and fined, these same 6 people must also be treated in the same way.


birdiestrachan 4 months, 3 weeks ago

What has doctor sands done as a health minister. NHI what happened to that.??Sick people in Grand Bahama still in tents. when the winds , rain and lightening came. Grand Bahama has a new case after a few weeks. DR. Sands, . DR Minnis nor any one else in the whole wide world understands this COVID 19.

PM Minnis may be afraid of him because he is smarter.

I do not care if he resigns or not. but as for him being this great Minister of Health. his record speaks for itself.


Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Editor, please spare us your tears for Sands.

President Trump signed an executive order making it illegal (a most serious Federal offense) for any US natural or corporate person to export or otherwise remove from the US any medical supplies whatsoever without making application to, and receiving the express consent of, the appropriate Federal authorities. It therefore seems the American family, anxious to 'buy' their way into their residential community in Bahamas under what can only be described as a quid pro quo arrangement, broke serious US Federal laws grounded in a Presidential Executive Order.

This of course raises many issues for the Bahamian government given that at least one of its senior cabinet ministers (Sands) participated in the arrangement, and possibly another (D'Aguilar). In fact this is probably the real reason why Sands had absolutely no choice but to resign....the writing was too clearly on the wall that he had aided and abetted the American family in breaking Federal laws by providing the 'quid' for their 'quo'. Sands could well end up on the persona non grata list maintained by US Customs and Immigration Services not to mention a host of other possible serious repercussions for not only himself personally, but also our government. My advice to Sands, get a very good lawyer. And D'Aguilar should consider doing likewise.


ISpeakFacts 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said mudda, but all in all Sands should've been FIRED, a resignation was the easy way out

The buffoon still has the 70+ bodies from Hurricane Dorian locked up in the trailer behind the Marsh Harbour clinic....and dont get me started on the hospital situation in Grand Bahama!!! Its been EIGHT MONTHS and they cant even bury the dead!!!


ThisIsOurs 4 months, 3 weeks ago

He made a mistake worthy of resignation or not he is certainly not a buffoon. He's not a good "politician" but I'd take him as a rep over the expert ones any day


ISpeakFacts 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Only the lowest of the low would dare to keep 70+ bodies stored away in a trailer for more than 8+ months, New York can bury thousands weekly but we cant even bury 70 bodies in 8 months???

GET REAL... Sands is a wicked and nasty buffoon, both he and Minnis need to be charged with the crime against humanity for the enslavement of the victims of Hurricane Dorian!!!


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