Three political parties: the Peoples Action Movement (PAM), the Peoples Labour Party (PLP) and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) came together in 2013 under the banner of Team Unity with the goal of unseating the Denzil Douglas-led St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party Administration.
On February 16th, 2015, the electorate voted for a change and paved the way for the formation of a Government of National Unity.
Now, two years later, the government continues to work on behalf of the people, evident by the delivery of more than fifty manifesto promises to date.
Appearing as guests on WINNFM’s Voices program, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Deputy Premier of Nevis and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation in the Federal Cabinet, the Honourable Mark Brantley and Minister of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd,were posed with the question as to how they have managed to keep the Team Unity Government together.
In his response, Prime Minister Harris said much of it have to do with the fact that important aspects of the coalition, including the leadership, programmes and policies, were ironed out way in advance of the general elections.
“Before we got together, we had opportunities for reflection and for determination of how we want to govern,” Dr. Harris stated. “In the past, both in St. Kitts and Nevis, under Labour, NRP and the governments before that, it had been the outcome of elections that drove those parties together in a coalition. In our case, uniquely we came together before a general election and made a determination. We made a determination as to who the leader will be because that was a source of public concern. We made a determination with respect to what our programmes will be and you will note that we went into the general elections with a single manifesto outlining our agenda at the federal level.”
The honourable prime minister also spoke of the level of support that exists between the Honourable Shawn Richards as Leader of the People’s Action Movement, the Honourable Vance Amory as Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement and himself as Leader of the People’s Labour Party.
“As leaders, we respect each other and we understand our respective roles. They understand their role to guide and support me and to help me to lead along the best path that we have collectively determined, so I say thank you to them.”
Weighing in on the topic, Minister Liburd praised the leadership style of Prime Minister Harris and noted that it is the consultative approach to governance that helps to foster unity at the Cabinet level.
He added, “We have come from different backgrounds, different training and we have brought different views but the consultative process leads us to the oneness that you find in Cabinet and many times Clive (Bacchus), when I listen to some of the rumours on the road, some of the things you hear, the innuendos and the false things you hear, I ask myself if I am in a different Cabinet because we have such a wonderful time doing the nation’s business.”
We don’t expect that everyone would agree on every point, as I said we came from different backgrounds, different training, but I can say to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis in St. Kitts and Nevis and in the wider diaspora that this Cabinet is a Cabinet that will be around for a long time and this Cabinet is one that puts the people’s business first and not personal interest,” the minister continued.
The Honourable Mark Brantley also chimed in on the topic by saying, “Even in a marriage, there are differences. Even in a family there will be differences from time to time and I think the strength is not that there are differences per say or that minds do not always meet at the same place and at the same time, I think the strength is the maturity that is required to deal with those issues as and when they arise.”
Minister Brantley further noted that, “One of the things that I am very comfortable with is that this Cabinet takes the notion of collective responsibility very seriously. That where there are different views and opinions, we have a forum called the Cabinet to discuss and to respectfully share those views and opinions, but at the end of the day the decision is the collective decision of the Cabinet and I think once we accept that and we take that to be the case then it makes it much easier for us to move forward and I agree wholeheartedly with the prime minister when he said that the framework (of the Team Unity coalition) was established before the people were asked to vote.”