BY: SHERWOOD LOWE
This letter skirts the recent PNCR palace intrigues to discuss instead the party’s recent statements on organizational change.
The party announced recently its intention “to rebuild and strengthen” and “to continually renew itself”. Giving substance to this desire for change, however, requires the party to overcome its over-reliance on ad-hocism. An appetite for systematic approaches must be developed. With this mindset, the party must necessarily start with its strategies. Here, we have not overlooked its mission as the starting point. But, for a political organism that has just lost government, its mission is obvious: regain the support of the majority of the people as quickly as possible.
From strategies, the party must then rebuild its structure. It should then look to fill that structure with the right staff and skills (Change Management 101). A few words on all of these.
Regaining the support of the majority comes down to formulating and executing strategies to remain relevant and important to people (their rights and welfare) and to the country’s future. What strategies come to mind?
First, APNU must direct far more attention to the fact that it still governs in four regions and in several NDCs. The party must craft a strategy to boost the performance of these councils.
Second, a strategy to leverage its parliamentary presence. If the opposition has any power in the National Assembly, that power resides in the parliamentary sectoral committees (such as those for economic and social services). The constitution assigns them the “responsibility for the scrutiny of all areas of Government policy and administration.” The coalition must be far more creative and aggressive than previously in leveraging its chairpersonship and membership of these committees to co-govern and to fix targeted problems on the ground.
Third, APNU must become the country’s strongest public protector and complaints authority against government abuse and misrule. In this regard, the Chris Jones case presents the opportunity for it to demonstrate its readiness.
Fourth, APNU has to lead the way on constitutional reform.
Fifth, APNU must have a strategy on how it interfaces with the PPP government to resolve specific issues directly affecting its supporters and the wider public. Contact with the PPP could range from ad hoc meetings with individual ministers to instituted government-opposition task forces, as we have had before.
Outside of this set of strategies lies the election petition. How could it be leveraged politically? Then, also of importance is the matter of inter-coalition relations (both within APNU and with the AFC). The need now exists here for formal decision-making structures.
Strategies shape organizational structure. The PNCR needs to discard its archaic structure for one that responds to a heavier strategic load. The party should establish directorates for (i) parliamentary and political affairs, (ii) optimizing the performance of RDCs, NDCs and CDCs, (iii) citizens complaints and response, (iv) public relations (a persistent weakness), (v) constitutional reform, and (v) civil society and diaspora outreach.
Given those strategies and structure, we move to staffing and skills. Off the bat, the PNCR needs to dump the self-defeating culture of side-lining human resources because of internal rifts. All hands must be on board. A strategies-based structure provides the opportunity to give genuine work to a larger number of leaders and activists. As a bonus, suitable appointments could also minimize the fallout from the recent purge. No ten-point criteria is needed here to fill positions in the new structure. Only the person’s ability to get the job done must matter.
Finally, one hopes that behind all the party’s recent lofty rhetoric, real strategic planning is going on. One also hopes that internal political intrigues do not reduce the party to a smaller version of itself.