Lisa Hanna got major props from a lot of people during the Youth Debate in the run-up to the general election. People who had previously only seen her as a “former beauty queen” were impressed with her performance. She was criticized for some of her answers, but overall, she made a very favorable impression.
Her appointment as a full Cabinet Minster was further validation of her rising star status, but her political ascent could be accelerated or brought to a screeching halt this year.
The Culture Ministry is not usually a very high-profile portfolio. Culture is seen as one of the “soft” Ministries that doesn’t carry the cachet or media attention of some of the others. In an ordinary year, therefore, Ms. Hanna, as a new Minister, would have a little time, under the radar, to figure out the ins and outs of her Ministry and learn on the job.
Not this year. This year is Jamaica 50. All you can hear in every other sentence is Jamaica 50. So the celebrations spearheaded by the Culture Ministry are going to be squarely in the media spotlight.
The planning started last year with Ms. Hanna’s predecessor, Olivia “Babsy” Grange. She set up a secretariat, and commissioned a Jamaica 50 song, which, up to the start of this year was relatively unknown, as I mentioned here in a previous post.
There was always going to be pressure attached to the Jamaica 50 activities. But given Ms. Hanna’s early criticism of the JLP administration’s planning process, and Ms. Grange’s speedy defence, we can expect even closer scrutiny of the celebrations and the Minister herself.
And it’s not just the celebrations. The process is going to be just as important. With the Contractor General and Auditor General waiting in the wings, any good governance shortcuts and attempts to ride roughshod over government procurement guidelines to give jobs to Comrades are likely to be exposed. Reports of mismanagement and corruption will dull the new Minister’s star faster than you can say Jamaica 50.
Ms. Hanna says the nation will soon hear the revised plans for the celebrations. She is surely aware of what is at stake, not just for the country, but for her.