By Staff Writer
After approximately a year and five months into office, the PACT (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent) coalition administration of Premier Wayne Panton is facing a no-confidence motion.
With a label intended to convey the ethos of the governing team of independents, it would be reasonable to assume that their short stewardship to date is being assessed by the opposition Progressives on those lofty claims. Is PACT at a year and five months into a four-year term living up to expectations of being ‘People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent’?
In the absence of scientific polling - or the outcome of the no-confidence motion - the jury is still out. And one could argue that it’s still early days yet.
Since taking office on April 21st last year following a fractious election campaign and an even more bitter coalition formation, Panton’s pack have had to adapt to a quick learning curve to transition Cayman out of a recession-inducing (but necessary) COVID-19 lockdown.
Major political platform transformational policies are yet to be detailed, legislated and implemented, but with COVID receding and the economy hopefully stabilising in the interim there might still be time to come up with those defining policies.
Everything from sustainable development, the job market, housing, access to healthcare, education and scholarships, alleviating traffic congestion and providing insulation from the cost-of-living crisis must be on the to-do list.
Even before the cost-of-living was determined a crisis, it was on the list of political platform promises.
PACT has made some progress with initiatives such as free school meals and support for those struggling with electricity bills. Plans to reduce traffic congestion are a step in the right direction. And Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan’s elevation to chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation(CTO) is a plus for Cayman’s regional and global tourism profile.
But in the eyes of the opposition Progressives, not enough is being done fast enough or well enough, so they’ve tabled a motion of no-confidence in the hope of moving PACT out of the way.
The challenge for the six-member Progressives is that they’ll have to form a pact with at least seven members of the PACT pack to succeed as PACT controls 13 of the 19 seats in Parliament. The Speaker is also a PACT man by invitation which normally would have given him a crucial pro-government vote if needed.
But that has now clearly changed.
Expect some political friction as the Progressives also want to see the back of the Speaker - as do the Premier and the Governor.
And that’s where another strand of this unfolding political saga comes into play.
It’s been more than a week since Premier Wayne Panton gave Speaker McKeeva Bush an ultimatum to resign. That deadline was September 23rd. Mr Bush has ignored it, along with the Governor’s suggestion for him to quit, and the Opposition’s call for him to step down.
Their collective displeasure is based on reports/rumours/allegations of misconduct towards members of the opposite sex by the male Speaker. Plus, the Premier is reported to have received (yet unfulfilled) assurances from the Speaker that he would quit, ostensibly over the said ‘reports/rumours/allegations of misconduct.
So far, there hasn’t been anything definitive from the RCIPS other than urging anyone who feels they may have been subjected to misconduct by the Speaker to come forward and file a complaint. To date, no one has.
We seem stuck with what is clearly a crisis within a crisis over a very unclear issue, plus an impending political, constitutional and parliamentary showdown (over which the said embattled Speaker may have to preside), except if a motion is also moved directly against him.
Speaker Bush was embraced into the PACT fold to give them a parliamentary numerical advantage over the Progressives in last year’s government formation. But they now seek to ‘un-PACT’ him. He was also at the centre of the decision by the then-ruling Progressives to call early elections rather than seeing through a motion of no-confidence against him following a conviction for assaulting a woman. They jumped before Bush was pushed.
There is a lot at stake politically for the Speaker, the PACT, and the Progressives.
There’s a lot at stake for the Governor who has weighed into the maelstrom over the future of the Speaker.
There’s also a lot at stake for the RCIPS and whoever feels that they may have been wronged by the Speaker.
Legal minds will need to determine if the RCIPS should mount its own investigation into the allegations of misconduct against the Speaker. After all, the Governor, the Premier and the Opposition have called on him to resign over the alleged infraction. In the case of the Premier, the ultimatum to quit has passed the deadline...but a storm (a real hurricane) intervened.
Meanwhile, there’s a major political and judicial storm brewing in this teacup and it’s about to boil over.
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