MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Public Service Fred Mitchell. Photo: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
FOREIGN Affairs and Public Service Minister Fred Mitchell has again criticised the state of the civil service, saying “poison pills” have been left behind by the Minnis administration leaving the public sector wrought with “passive aggressive resistance” that needs to be fixed.
Mr Mitchell, also the Progressive Liberal Party’s chairman, repeated his call on party supporters to be patient and “hold on”.
“There’s plenty of passive aggressive resistance throughout the system; poison pills left by the last administration,” Mr Mitchell said. “I was told an extraordinary story by a public official, about why my people can’t get paid on time.
“Their answer was because Hubert Minnis called the general election unexpectedly, the whole system which budgets and payment was thrown off and so the entire system is in disarray and off balance. Well, I told you, ‘IMF’ – It’s Minnis’ Fault.
“There is a serious point behind all of this. We must fix the public administration. We must fix the institutions of government so that they can appropriately respond to what the political directorate requires. That’s a serious point.”
In showing PLP supporters the value of being patient, Mr Mitchell told a personal story as an example of the same.
“I got back from Harvard in 1980 after a glorious year abroad getting my master’s degree, expecting to return to work at ZNS,” he said. “Try as I might, I could not get a meeting with Lynden Pindling, with whom I had had an almost every day relationship with between 1977 and 1980 as the director of news at ZNS and later as a student at Harvard.
“Now I was back and I couldn’t get this meeting with him or even a return call. It took a combination of George Smith, the then-Transport Minister, and Loftus Roker, the then-National Security Minister, both of whom were my friends, to get the meeting.
“When I met Sir Lynden, he told me that I couldn’t get back to ZNS because there was resistance in management to my return and he would have to craft out a role for me somewhere else. That somewhere else was part of his office, parked in the Bahamas Information Services.”
He said his Harvard education meant nothing in this situation, nor did his history with the PLP.
“A degree from Harvard meant nothing and the work of a PLP former Centreville chair and Long Island NGC member meant nothing,” Mr Mitchell said. “. . .This was not good for the self-esteem of a 27-year-old, but I survived.
“So, why am I telling you this story? Politics is a difficult business. There’s no prescriptive or normative patterns to tell you. Each example is different and everyone has to cut their own path. But I remember the feeling of emptiness and worthlessness like it was yesterday.
“I am saying this because of the tidal wave of complaints that we are not responding to the faithful as we should with the appropriate dispatch. I want, though, to keep our rational minds and not jump to conspiracy theories. Things will ease in time. We have met ourselves in a hostile polity.”