Mon | Dec 11, 2023

‘Own goal’ scored in Rocky Meade’s appointment

Published:Tuesday | September 27, 2022 | 12:06 AM


The recent furore over the appointment of Lieutenant General Rocky Meade to the post of Cabinet Secretary was an unnecessary ‘own goal’ by the Andrew Holiness administration. Had members of the prime minister’s (PM) staff done a little research, this would have all been avoided.

First, let me state that in principle, I believe elected officials should have the personnel they want to implement the policies and programmes they were elected on. Jamaica’s civil service is generally modelled on the UK civil service. But I suspect few will argue that our civil service has the culture of impartiality that like of the UK civil service. The dilemma facing this Government is possibly that when the opposition party was in government, they were able to promote those who shared their political philosophy.

This, I believe, is the reason why the PM has looked outside the civil service.

As articulated by various legal luminaries, the Jamaican Constitution states that the Cabinet Secretary is to be selected “...from a list of public officers...”, and it also defines a public office as “any office of emolument in the public service”. So clearly, Lieutenant General Meade does not meet these criteria so someone did not do their research.

However, I did some further research and there appears to be precedence for appointing someone from outside the public service to the post of Cabinet Secretary. In 1993, then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson tapped Dr Carlton Davis to be the cabinet secretary. According to the 2007-2008 edition of The Jamaica Directory of Personalities, prior to his appointment as Cabinet Secretary, Dr Davis worked for the Jamaica Bauxite Institute. He was not a part of the civil service, hence its employees are not public officers.

I am sure we will find that back in 1993, the then government lawyers knew this and found a way to meet the constitutional requirements. Perhaps Dr Carlton Davis could advise on the matter ,because certainly he would know how this was done, provided that my reasoning holds up, of course. If it does, the current administration would have only needed to simply followed that precedent and Lieutenant General Meade would now be in line to where the PM obviously believes he is needed; with no own goals scored.