Handling crisis

It is gratifying that Government has taken steps to allay growing fears regarding the President, considering that as an institution the Presidency is the embodiment of our collctive character, vision and national ethos.

Of course skeptics have already started to cast doubt on the authenticity of the  Cabinet meeting images posted in the media yesterday suggesting they were archive copies retrieved to allay anxiety.

The suggestion being that in this day and age of Photoshop and airbrushing everything is possible.

Whatever the case, it is commendable that an effort has been made in this direction as it indicates some modicum of responsiveness to public anxiety which has been totally lacking in the last three weeks. With it has come some show of sensitivity to public sentiment, a critical character in politics.

Government in general and State House in particular must contend with widespread public cynicism   because this must rank as the worst managed public relations episode in the life of our nation.

It is not often that State House drops from national radar for weeks on end without an explanation. This is the reason for skepticism.

This is what happens when a situation is badly handled. Even the best efforts of mitigation will sound hollow if presented in an atmosphere fraught with rumours, innuendo and speculation.

Those responsible for public information should have taken a more responsible and proactive stance to manage the absence or indeed indisposition of the President in a more meaningful manner to allay public speculation and fears. The first family was more believable in the manner it responded to human fraility.

The President is both an individual and an institution and both persona must be given due regard and consideration at all times. Attempts to make him invincible and beyond human foibles is an exercise in futility.

Nobody will demand a detailed briefing from Government if the President chooses to exercise his constitutional right to delegate power to any individual for any of the three reasons given by the constitution namely, absence from the country, illness or for “any other reason”.

The Government did not have to create the totally fictitious working holiday in order to justify the absence of the President. This disingenuous excuse fell flat when the Israeli media quickly discounted the assertion and disclosed that the President was at a medical facility.

What would have been so wrong to admit that the President was in Israel for specialist treatment? Who would begrudge him the opportunity for quality treatment?

Such disinformation does not only discredit the Government but actually feeds into the creative imagination of the populace. In this case all manner of rumours and speculation have done their rounds.

The trouble with speculation is that it diverts attention from issues of substance. At present we should be worrying whether the country is “constitutionally compliant.”

We have issues to deal with. There are lacunas that must be filled and lapses that must be fixed expeditiously to ensure that we are not caught off guard when a crisis hits. 

The hall mark of good governance is certainty and predictability. A country must always stand ready to respond to any emerging conditions or circumstances.