Jun 18, 2018 News
Former Deputy Chief Election Officer Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vishnu Persaud has broken his silence on his non reappointment.
Last week Tuesday, GECOM Chairman, James Patterson used his casting vote to ensure that Persaud was not reappointed DCEO. He did this despite the fact that Persaud emerged as the highest ranking candidate.
Since then, several articles and letters were published in the local media reflecting the view of GECOM Commissioners who were for—as well as those who were against—Persaud’s appointment.
Persaud is now seeking to defend himself in the midst of what he calls “defamation and stigma that has now been accordingly cast upon me.”
Persaud penned a letter to the media where he responded to most of the allegations leveled against him, especially those contained in an article published by the state newspaper. Persaud’s letter was published in Kaieteur News Saturday edition. Read: https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2018/06/16/these-statements-about-me-are-baseless-reckless-defamatory-and-malicious-in-their-design/.
POOR PAST PERFORMANCE
Persaud said that while Patterson is claiming that past performance stands as one of the reasons he (Persaud) should not be reappointed “there is absolutely nothing in the article to so substantiate.”
He said that he joined the GECOM in November of 2001 in the capacity of Public Relations Officer (PRO) and worked continuously up to August 2017 – serving in the last three years as DCEO.
“Throughout my tenure, I was never cautioned, reprimanded, rebuked – orally or in writing – by Senior Management of the GECOM Secretariat or the Commission for failure to honour my responsibilities,” said Persaud.
The former DCEO said that on the contrary, since about 2004 up to the end of his stint, he was multi-tasking by carrying the responsibilities of additional substantive Offices.
He said, “In 2004, the person who was employed as Personal Assistant (PA) to the Chairman – a position on the GECOM organogram – was promoted to Logistics Manager. The then Chairman from then onwards had me function as his de facto PA, which I did up to August 2014, when I was appointed DCEO. Simultaneously, I was tasked with the responsibilities of Scribe to the Commission, since this responsibility was also being carried by the Chairman’s PA. I carried out this responsibility for about eight years with a short break when a Legal Officer was employed for a short period.”
Persaud said that during his stint as PRO, in the run-up to the 2011 General and Regional Elections, the Commission, as well as political stakeholders, complained severely that the Civic and Voter Education (C&VE) Programmes of the Commission were severely lacking.
He said that notwithstanding the C&VE function was vested in a substantive Manager in a designated position senior to PRO, the then Chairman informed the Commission that “he was tasking me with significant responsibility for the print and electronic media aspect of C&VE. There was no objection at the level of the Commission or Secretariat.”
He said that that fact can be substantiated from the Minutes of the relevant Statutory Meeting of the Commission.
Persaud said that he continued to carry that responsibility up to early 2014 when the C&VE Manager demitted office. From then up to August 2017, Persaud said he carried the totality of the C&VE responsibilities because no one was appointed to the vacant position of C&VE Manager. To date, the position remains vacant.
Further, Persaud said that following the 2015 General and Regional Elections, and in preparation for the 2016 Local Government Elections (LGEs), the Human Resources Manager (HRM) resigned. This happened somewhere in mid-2015.
“The Secretariat was deeply involved in the training of approximately 12,000 temporary staff for the upcoming LGEs. Upon the resignation of the HRM, the Chief Election Officer assigned me responsibility for management of the Human Resource Division. I carried this responsibility along with that of C&VE simultaneously with my substantive duties of DCEO up to the appointment of a substantive HRM at the beginning of 2017. There was no additional pay and none was ever sought.”
Persaud went on further to state that while he was DCEO, he acted in the capacity of CEO once, and “held the fort” several times for the CEO when he had to leave the office for a week at a time. “I was never cited nor censured for any wrongdoing whatsoever. Naturally, I have seen all of the Performance Appraisals prepared for me by former Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally under whose direct supervision I worked up to August 2014. There is nothing in any of those Appraisals that would suggest that I was lacking in any area of the regime of responsibilities with which I was tasked.”
He said, “In view of the foregoing, I am at a loss to determine how my past performance could have led to my detriment. I challenge anyone, and specifically the Guyana Chronicle and Mr. Alexander, to dispute the provable facts I have outlined above.”
OTHER CANDIDATE HAS BETTER QUALIFICATIONS
Persaud said that the position that he is less qualified than the second ranking candidate who was appointed to the position was put forward without any comparison of the qualifications of the two concerned candidates, specifically in relation to the criteria delineated in the advertisement for the vacant position of DCEO.
He went on to list the advertised criteria and listed his compatibility with each these requirements.
Persaud then said, “In view of the foregoing, I humbly request that facts be put forward to prove that the ‘other candidate has better qualifications’.”
HISTORY OF MISREPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS
Persaud said that there is nothing to support this allegation, which was made by Commissioner Vincent Alexander.
Persaud wrote, “I need to be pellucid that at no time have I ever misrepresented my qualifications to the GECOM.”
Persaud said that during Alexander’s ongoing tenure at the Commission he submitted applications with relevant CVs twice for the position of DCEO in 2014 and 2017 respectively.
“On both occasions, I presented to the Commission certificates in support of my qualifications documented in the respective CVs. Should I have misrepresented myself in any manner, I submit that would have been sufficiently egregious a transgression to warrant my immediate dismissal with prejudice. Let it be known, this was not done, and I have no reprimand on my personnel file.”
Persaud said that in 2014, his appointment as DCEO flowed from a “transparent recruitment process” which involved advertising the vacant position, receiving applications and shortlisting candidates, and the conduct of interviews by a panel comprising the GECOM Chairman, four Commissioners (two from both sides) and the Chief Election Officer.
“While I expect that the entire foregoing may not serve to adequately counter a headline and front page misrepresentation accredited to Mr. Alexander, which has already led to my defamation and personal degradation, I wish nonetheless to be on record that the statements are baseless, reckless, defamatory and malicious in their design.
“ …As the DCEO or any role held, I always conducted myself professionally, without fear or favour, and without bias in any area or level of my responsibilities. This was and will always remain the definition of my core as a human being and a professional which I will steadfastly defend,” said Persaud.
In a letter in yesterday’s newspaper, Alexander said, “I stand by my word and hereby restate emphatically that Vishnu Persaud`s candidacy was opposed by me on the grounds that the other candidate is superior, in addition to the fact that Vishnu was appointed as the PRO of GECOM when he was not qualified for the job. He was elevated to DCEO on the pretense of being the holder of a first degree, here again, he was appointed in a position for which he was not qualified. He himself, in the presence of the entire interviewing panel, admitted that he was not the holder of a first degree or its equivalent. That alone should have made him ineligible.”
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