The biggest mistake that the government can make is to follow in the footsteps of the PPP. This is not the benchmark which APNU+AFC should set. The new government should strive to do better. People expect better of them.
They were voted into office because sufficient numbers of Guyanese decided that they had enough of the ways of the PPP. APNU+AFC should not disappoint those Guyanese.
APNU+AFC should be transparent and they should be fair. This is all that people want. They do not demand miracles from the government, just be fair and transparent.
If a position is vacant and it is a public office, then this position should be advertised. It should be publicly advertised. Persons should apply and there should be a competitive process.
But do not appoint anyone without going through a competitive process. This is what one would expect from the former government. This is what brought a great deal of resentment against the PPP. It should not be happening within APNU+ AFC.
Do not appoint friends and lackeys to positions and then inform the public that people knew there was a vacancy and they applied. What about those that did not know and did not have a chance to know? How would they have known to apply? How were they to know that the incumbent was fired and that there is a vacancy?
Everyone should have a chance to apply for a position but they can only do so if they know that there is a vacancy and the qualifications demanded. They may also want to know if there is an age limit or if you are retired if you can apply, because a lot of retirees are having jobs these days.
Secondly, if there is an investigation being launched within a government agency, it is only necessary to send someone on leave if the continued presence of the person on the job will frustrate the investigation. You cannot have an audit ongoing for two months and have persons on the job during this period and then suddenly decide that you need to send them on leave to facilitate the audit. You need to establish that the continued presence on the job will compromise the audit, and only then should the person be sent on leave.
Sending someone on leave must not become a form of constructive dismissal or a prelude to dismissal. Due process must be done for all. If an investigation is carried out, a person cannot be dismissed on the basis of the investigation alone. Due process must be followed. The person must be given an opportunity to respond to each and every allegation or charge made, and only when the person’s defense is carefully studied, should the person be dismissed and only if there is good cause.
A number of questions remain unanswered. It is hoped that the media will see answers. For example, was due process followed in relation to recent dismissals at public departments? What was the outcome of the investigations conducted? Will these reports be laid in the National Assembly in the interest of fairness and transparency? Were the officers who were dismissed given a hearing? Were they allowed to respond to the allegations made against them? Were they allowed legal representation at any hearing? Or were they dismissed Wild West style in keeping with authoritarian practices?
An audit report or an investigative report cannot be the basis of dismissal. It can only be the basis of a disciplinary proceeding. There are rules governing such proceedings including the right of the accused to be represented and heard and to be heard by a tribunal or panel headed by someone in a higher position that the person who is the subject of the proceedings. A public official cannot be tried by the juniors.
The PPP’s ways should not be the ways of APNU. The old way of the PNC should not return. Burnham had a way of dismissing people on the spot. Even though he was a lawyer- and a decent one at that- he had a way of believing that he was more powerful than the law. He liked to dismiss people on the spot and subject them to public ridicule.
Those days should be part of Guyana’s buried past. They should not return. Neither should the PPP’s method of hiring. Better is expected from APNU+AFC.
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