The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Nationalist Party – More people like Francis needed

Friday, 14 February 2020, 07:48 Last update: about 11 days ago

The Nationalist Party should be eternally grateful to Francis Zammit Dimech.

The St Julian’s politician has proven his unquestionable loyalty to the party over and over again, even when at times it was the party itself and its supporters that pushed him aside.

Elected for the first time in 1987, Zammit Dimech has offered decades of service to the party, in government and in opposition, never wavering in his commitment to a cause he believes in wholeheartedly. And yet too often the electorate discarded him until he first lost his place in the Maltese Parliament and, later, also in the European Parliament.

Each time there’s a crisis, he has always offered his contribution. And each time the party turned to him, they always obtained a “yes”. He was not given a ministry in 2008, but filled in for a few months as Foreign Minister after Tonio Borg moved to Brussels to replace John Dalli as European Commissioner. When, last year, leader Adrian Delia faced a vote of confidence, Zammit Dimech was chosen to lead the electoral commission. These are just two examples – one in government and one in the party – when Zammit Dimech was at the ready to take up a role he knew was not going to last.

His latest input is his acceptance to take over, again temporarily, the post of secretary general after the resignation of Clyde Puli. It is a position that, once the reform of the party is implemented in the coming months, will be abolished and replaced by a chief executive officer. Nobody but someone like Zammit Dimech would accept to take up such a post, given also the financial tribulations that have afflicted the party for years.

Zammit Dimech knows that the party is “using” him in a transition period right in the middle of a tumultuous time for the PN, which has been unable to shrug off successive massive electoral defeats and regain public support – also because there are several people in the party who, unlike Zammit Dimech, are putting their personal interests ahead of those of the party.

Comments on the social media about Zammit Dimech’s appointment as interim secretary general have been unkind to the man and to the politician. But Zammit Dimech brushes them aside in his inimitable way because his main concern is the wellbeing of the party.

The irony in all this is that, after his appointment was made public and Zammit Dimech said that his priority will be to be a unifying force in the party, members from the two opposing factions in the PN – those supporting Delia and those wanting him to move out – expressed their full support to his quest. It is hard to understand how two factions which are openly fighting each other talk about unity.

Zammit Dimech’s task is not an easy one. He will find people who will tell him one thing but do the opposite when they walk out of his office. But his 40-year-plus experience in politics and the PN will go a long way to help him deal with what is thrown at him.

What is sure is that someone like Francis Zammit Dimech will never be insulted when he walks into the Nationalist Party headquarters.

  • don't miss