Governance here and abroad

The Washington Post’s Michael Miller wrote about the “curmudgeonly old reporter”, Andrew Jennings, who exposed the excesses of FIFA. The 71-year-old Scotland-born Jennings’ dogged determination was supported by individuals in FIFA who seemed to have grown sick of what they saw. They gave him an armload of files and as he continued to dig, the result was two books, FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals, and Omerta: Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organised Crime Family. The FBI contacted him for information, resulting in the shocking indictments.

I believe that if there were greater gender balance on that powerful FIFA board, there would have been better governance. There is a “20 by 20” campaign in the US, with the aim of increasing the percentage of women on boards by at least 20 per cent by 2020. Their research has shown that 80 per cent of companies that only had token or zero women board members had dropped off the Fortune 1000 index. “Research has demonstrated that companies with women on boards are more profitable,” states the website at http://www.2020wob.com/companies/2020-gender-diversity-index.

Profitability comes from good governance – strong accounting, solid planning and high productivity. The damage that corruption does to country, community and corporation is extensive. Our “ah nuh nutten” attitude means many are not aware of its danger. Corruption overstuffs the unethical and “box bread outa honest people mouth”. It can bring successful organisations to their knees and wipe out well-needed jobs.

Even as our Government is wrestling with wage demands, we ask ourselves: How much have we lost over the years to corruption, at worst, or poor governance, at best? If we add up the billions of dollars in grants that this country has received since Independence, and look at how these funds were spent, how accountable are the successive administrations who were put in charge of these funds? Add to this the taxes they have collected; how have they been spent?

The unions formed by teachers, police, nurses and civil servants should appoint a committee to examine why they cannot get a proper living wage, while others are enjoying ridiculous perks and overblown boards have posh retreats. In our small country, an Andrew Jennings may not have been able to publish his books, but if our media look beyond competition and gather strength from their numbers, we could also play an important role in promoting good governance and ensuring that the hardest-working get the highest reward.

The Mandela example

Two weeks ago I wrote about Johannesburg and Soweto as we had been on a visit to South Africa. The following week, we journeyed to Cape Town and took the ferry across to Robben Island, where we were stunned by the size of the cell where Nelson Mandela spent the first 18 years of his imprisonment. Our guide, a former prisoner, pointed out that the dog kennels were bigger than the 8ft by 7ft cell in which he was locked down each day from 3:30 pm until 7:00 am the following morning. We saw the items in the cell, just as they were when the great man was kept there: a bucket, a stool, a straw mat, and four blankets.

That Mandela could emerge after 27 years, forgive his captors, and demit officeafter four and a half years has set a searing example for his fellow South Africans. So many humble folks we met channelled his dignity, courtesy and humility. Punctuality, too, is an outstanding hallmark of South Africans of every walk of life. Let our leaders understand that the best teacher of a people is the example set by those in authority.

We toured the winelands and, en route to Franschhoek, stopped at the low-security Groot Drakenstein Prison where Mandela spent his final years of arrest and from which he walked free in January 1990. With our friends Minna Israel and Sharon Lake, we took the cable car to the top of the Table Mountain and dreamt of such a facility being in place to explore our beautiful Blue Mountains. Our visit ended with a two-day safari at the Pilanesburg nature reserve, a 55,000-acre expanse near Johannesburg, where the young ranger explained that lateness and poor vehicle maintenance were punished by tough duties. Let’s take a page from South Africa’s book!

ACWW Area Conference in Jamaica

Jamaica’s own accomplished entrepreneur and philanthropist Dotsie Gordon is the area president for the Caribbean, Central & South America region for Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), a community-oriented organisation. She and the Jamaica Federation of Women (JFW) have organised and will host their two-day meeting at the Jamaica Conference Centre this Thursday and Friday. The theme for the conference is ‘Working with women worldwide for sustainable development in homes and country’.

Now I have a very soft spot for the JFW, as my mother Maisie Lowrie and her best friend, Josephine Lowe, have been active members of this organisation for decades, winning numerous prizes for their legendary baking and fund-raising activities. The current president is the untiring Gloria Millwood, while chairman is the inspiring Cecile Jarrett. Dotsie Gordon is vice chair, while other executive members are Elaine Dreyer and Grace McKoy. The 71-year dynamic JFW, an associate member of ACWW, has created infant schools through partnerships with various churches, conducts child abuse prevention programmes, initiated several housecraft training centres, and has partnered with National Environment and Planning Agency for an ‘Impact of Climate Change on Families’ programme to address environmental concerns.

A warm welcome to our Caribbean and Latin American sisters who will be attending the ACWW conference.

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

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