All new governments in Guyana are prone to two mistakes. The first is the high level of suspicion of persons who would have worked with the outgoing administration, even when those persons were tenured public servants.
The second concerns the pressures to which new governments are subjected by their supporters who are looking to displace experienced and competent public officials.
New governments have tended to associate those who would have worked under the former administration as being partisan and therefore unsuited for continued employment under their administrations.
When the PPP/C came to power after 28 years in the opposition, they harboured suspicions over some officials. There may have been some good grounds for this suspicion. Since the Declaration of Sophia, the government bureaucracy became perverted by political appointees.
A great many square pegs found themselves in round holes. Persons used to be sent by certain ministers to be appointed to senior positions in government entities. Many of these persons did not have the qualifications for the jobs they held.
The PPPC came in with this in mind. But there were other competent persons who were also sent home by the PPP/C because these persons were perceived as being PNC, when in fact these persons were professionals.
The same thing has happened under APNU+AFC. There has been the rout of certain persons. Yet, in some agencies in which damning forensic audit findings were uncovered, persons with connections to the present coalition have been retained.
When the new government came in, it announced that there was no role for politicians within the public service. Yet, some persons who were on the list of candidates for the PPP/C in the 2011 elections were retained. Also, persons who were on the APNU+AFC list were also handed top state jobs. The government has not been consistent nor has it been true to its declared principles.
APNU+AFC, in 2015, was guilty of the same paranoia as the PPP/C was in 1992. There was mistrust of a number of Heads of government agencies, some of whom were removed as soon as their contracts had ended. Others were shuffled to other ministries.
Yet, it seems to make good sense in a corrupt system of public administration to retain persons who would have served in senior positions under the former administration. Those persons would know that they will be closely watched, and therefore will find it difficult to risk being corrupt. The government can therefore get the best out of these persons since they have no political connections with the new administration and would not want to risk their job security.
The same cannot be said of the political hacks appointed by new administrations. These hacks know that they have Godfathers who will protect them. They will therefore be inclined to run roughshod over the agencies which they are administering. Even some juniors who were political appointees behave as though no one can tell them anything, because it is the ruling party that has put them there.
While all of this is happening there are persons outside of the government bureaucracy, including persons from overseas, who are constantly egging the government to dismiss somebody so that they can get that person’s job. They are pushing their own claims for a job by bad-mouthing seasoned professionals. It happened under the PPP/C and it is happening under the APNU+AFC coalition.
The APNU+AFC coalition is being swarmed by persons looking to capitalize on the fact that the parties they supported are in power. They want to get top jobs and senior positions. They want jobs for their children and grandchildren, even if it means dismissing someone who has done nothing wrong and is competent.
The government has to be wary of those who are feathering their nests at the expense of others. They should ask all those persons who claim they are only interested in serving the government whether they will serve free in an advisory capacity. Then the government will be able to separate the well-intentioned from the opportunists.
There are a great many political opportunists crawling around. And professionals within the public service must be aware of the threats that these persons pose to their jobs.
They should be especially wary of those political commissars who have been planted in government agencies and who feel this is licence to carry out purges and to be excited by frock tails and skirts.
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