Two tramps, Estragon and Vladimir, stand idly by a tree. Vladimir asks his friend, “Well, shall we go?”. Estragon replies “Yes let’s go”. But none of them moves. The tramps’ phoney decisiveness and absurd inaction is the perfect illustration of Robert Abela.
Samuel Beckett’s famous play, ‘Waiting for Godot’, changed the face of modern drama. The two tramps in his play are waiting for the enigmatic Godot. Godot, however, never arrives. Even when they’re told he won’t be coming, they still wait. The tramps believe Godot will provide all the answers – will alleviate their unbearable and impossible predicament of profound uncertainty and hopelessness.
Some believe Estragon and Vladimir are the personifications of Freud’s ego and id. The tramps are one person struggling to act but frozen in inertia by the false hope that the mysterious Godot will arrive – and take the decisions himself. Abela is Estragon and Vladimir, frozen in stagnation, waiting for Godot. The more he decides to act, the more he dithers and procrastinates – and does nothing.
Ian Borg, the proverbial albatross, awarded the daughter of his canvasser and former chief of staff €108,542 in direct orders in one year. Adreana Zammit, had not even graduated or obtained her warrant when Borg directly appointed her as ‘junior lawyer’ in his ministry with a salary of €62,400.
Only 10 months later, she was awarded an additional €46,142 for six months’ work. When journalists asked Ian Borg why the taxpayer should pay an inexperienced fresh graduate over €100,000 in one year, the Minister simply ignored the questions.
Abela was asked about the abusive and offensive squandering of taxpayer’s money by Minister Borg on his canvasser’s daughter. Abela declared: “Any decisions that need to be taken, as I have done in the last 15 months, will be taken”.
Like the tramps deciding to go but staying put, the prime minister hastily proceeded to do nothing. He backpedalled vigorously: “I am looking into all the facts before making a decision”.
In his surreal world, Abela air cycles in ambiguity. He declares action but practises stagnation, deferring decisions to anybody else. Estragon tells Vladimir: “Let’s do nothing, it’s safer”. The other replies, “Let’s wait and see what he says”. “Who?” “Godot”, Vladimir replies. “Good idea,” Estragon agrees. That exchange sums up Robert Abela.
When Ian Borg was condemned by the court as “not credible” after cheating a mentally ill man of his inheritance, Abela decided to wait. On 7 December 2020, the prime minister stated: “It is not prudent to comment on Ian Borg at this time”. His excuse then was that an appeal was still possible.
Abela tied himself up in knots, claiming that if he commented he would “neutralise the right to appeal by one or other party in the case”. If an appeal were lodged against the court’s judgement Abela would wait until that appeal was concluded. If no appeal were lodged, he assured the public, he would comment after the 20 days appeal period.
No appeal was lodged by Borg. The 20 days are long past. Abela is still waiting to comment, despite his empty promises of 7 December. When Borg blasphemed on television, his defence was to lie. Now he claims he knew nothing and was not involved in the obscene appointment of the ‘junior lawyer’. As the court declared, Borg cannot be believed. Only Abela believes him.
When Rosianne Cutajar’s cosy relationship with Yorgen Fenech was exposed, Abela froze again. At a Council of Europe debate, Cutajar shamelessly resisted efforts to force the government to set up an inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Weeks before, Cutajar received thousands of euro in cash from Fenech.
As more damning evidence of Cutajar’s gross transgressions emerged, Abela failed to act. “Decisions on Rosianne Cutajar’s future cannot be based on news reports but on the outcome of the ethics probe,” he announced. He insisted he would continue to wait for the verdict of the Standards Commissioner before taking action about Cutajar.
When the Standards Commissioner concluded a report on Carmelo Abela, finding him guilty of breach of ministerial ethics, the prime minister still froze. In Cutajar’s case, Abela deferred judgment until the Commissioner’s conclusions.
In Carmelo Abela’s case, not even the Commissioner’s conclusive report was enough for the prime minister. “Only the parliamentary committee can take a decision on the subject, this decision still needs to be taken,” was the OPM’s response.
The prime minister boasts about taking decisions, yet never takes one. He waits, and waits, and waits some more. Godot won’t be coming, but still, he waits. Abela’s only action is his inaction.
Faced with Ian Borg’s most recent obscenity, Abela is still “looking into the facts”.
Here are the facts. The daughter of Borg’s chief canvasser and election victory architect was directly awarded over €100,000 by the minister in one year – despite having barely qualified and without a warrant on appointment. In stark contrast, a principal psychologist with years of training and eight years’ experience was recently appointed to the health service on an annual salary of €28,326.
Diploma staff nurses, treating COVID positive patients at significant personal risk, are paid €18,142 per year. A highly qualified brain surgeon, trained for over 17 years, has recently been appointed consultant, joining only two other neurosurgeons. Their highly specialised skills include meticulously dissecting out tumours from the brains of seriously ill patients. That consultant is paid €36,014 per year for his arduous and difficult work.
The obscene cronyism and brazen pilfering of taxpayer funds by his minister reek of criminal abuse. We could have five more staff nurses, three more principal psychologists, even three more brain surgeons for one Adreana Zammit. To save himself, he lies and lies. And Abela waits.
We are witnessing the theatre of the absurd: Abela’s indolence and inaction obscured with boasts of decisiveness. Like Samuel Beckett’s audiences, we don’t know whether we should laugh or cry.