The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Deputy Leader Audley Shaw is coyly courting the press and the public by saying he will, in due course, sometime between now and the party's general conference in November, make an announcement as to whether he will challenge Andrew Holness for leadership of the party.
We like Mr Shaw well enough, but would prefer if he would shelve his ambitions to be leader of the party and future prime minister, in favour of someone who isn't associated with Jamaica's dismal performance, both as a member of its ruling party and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. That we're hovering at best between outrageous international success and notoriety, plodding along and sinking into despair has much to do with our leadership over the last... hmmm... 50 years.
We are reminded of this while we watch yet another inaugural performance by Robert Mugabe, 89, the oldest African leader and ruler of Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980. During that time, the most noticeable change in Zimbabwe is that while Mugabe continues to run his people and their diamond-rich nation into the ground, the number of Mercedes-Benz luxury sedans in his motorcade has increased.
Not for a second do we mean to suggest that Mr Shaw might have corrupt tendencies, we don't; for Mr Shaw has no unexplained great wealth to speak of and is certainly not in the middle of an elaborate mansion construction project in Beverly Hills somewhere. In fact, Mr Shaw is as regular as the rest of us, having experienced great financial challenges, the loss of his business and the restructuring of his family life, and he, more than anyone, should know the perils and folly of traditional Jamaican politics for an honest man.
Even if he were to successfully challenge Andrew Holness, and by some miracle go on to win a general election, he must know too that his victory would be short-lived and of little use. For as our political history has indicated, this is People's National Party's (PNP) country and the JLP is allowed to win only when the PNP need to take a much needed break from the stress of administering the affairs of this country.
The usual political box-step has taken its toll on the collective psyche and we, the people of Jamaica, like our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters, are caught in the vicious cycle of "nutten nah gwaan" and "wi cyaan do no bettah" and deep down inside recognise that our politicians can do little more than offer a good box lunch and drink and free bus ride on occasion, and are, for the most part, incapable of leading us in a fox trot: that smooth progressive dance of long, continuous strides that we need to take as a country.
The point is that we need a fresh start and we need to look at a new slate of candidates with a proven track record of success. And speaking of strides, the recent World Championships in Moscow have called attention to Jamaica's superstar athletes and their immeasureable talents. That the fastest man and woman in the world are Jamaicans is not a testament to ackee, or body type, or anything other than the natural ability we have for world domination, if, and only if, we are managed properly.
Stephen Francis is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in history and has trained the likes of Asafa Powell, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Melaine Walker, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Kaliese Spencer, Shericka Jackson and a cadre of other top international stars at his Kingston-based MVP Track Club.
He has said of his athlete, 'pocket rocket' Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce: "The first thing she does is she works extremely hard, she is always a person who believes that if she stops working she will lose everything that she has. She takes nothing for granted and I think it's part of her upbringing in the inner city, where she always believes that tomorrow she will lose everything; so she works harder and harder. You have to monitor her and ensure that she doesn't overdo it."
Coach Glen Mills stepped down as the Olympic Jamaican athletics coach in late 2009, having overseen athletes to 71 World Championship and 33 Olympic medals in his 22 years in the role. He said other prominent coaches deserved a chance at undertaking the position and decided he wanted to focus more on his Racers Track Club team. He received much praise from his athlete, Usain Bolt, who said that it was his coaching which made him improve, not only as an athlete, but also as a person.
So while we admire Mr Shaw's affability and his commitment to this country, we don't need more of the same when it comes to leadership, because it's the people who make this country great, not the politicians. We should pay close attention to Stephen Francis and Glen Mills and their teams, who bring out the best in their athletes, and encourage those men and women with proven track records in the motivation and development of Jamaicans to apply their methods to the wider population.