Even in the American and Brazilian constitutional system, where senators and chairpersons of parliamentary committees have power, it is the president on whom the society focuses when he/she opens his/her mouth to explain recondite or complex policies and strange political decisions.
If a professional poll was taken today, more interviewees would opt to hearing answers from the president on controversial issues than those of the Opposition Leader. The Opposition Leader does not have substantial political and constitutional power in any polity that I know of throughout the entire world. Guyana is not an exception.
This week, the President said the Opposition Leader should give his reason for not accepting Justice Kenneth Benjamin, as Chancellor. A strong word like “nonsense” should be used in analyzing the President’s statement. It wasn’t a politician, it wasn’t an anti-government critic, it wasn’t a member of civil society, but the respected office of the Chief Justice that ruled that in rejecting the lists of nominees for the chairmanship of GECOM, the President ought to have offered his reasons.
To date, he has not done so and he sought refuge in the banality of the expression of not “fit and proper.” Many persons on those lists were highly unfit and improper and for reasons that are obvious. Why with her belief system of ethnicity would Guyana accept Ryhaan Shah? Why should anyone accept James Rose who was a PPP election candidate twice? Surely, there were a million reasons for rejecting Norman McLean. Mr. McLean, after disclosure by the American Embassy, was charged with four counts of committing a criminal offence.
The Opposition Leader outsmarted David Granger. And in many ways, he has kept outmanoeuvering the president. What Jagdeo did was produce some unfit and improper names along with some fit and proper personalities. The President used an irrelevant methodology. He daubed with too broad a brush and rejected all 18 names from three lists. To date, he has not accepted the notice of the Chief Justice to offer his reasons.
Let’s move to another manifestation of the ‘no explanation” habit of the President. To date, no one has written a single word of condemnation against the new head of the Energy Department, Dr. Mark Bynoe. The focus on Bynoe has three dimensions. In the opinion of this columnist, these dimensions are valid points to debate. One is that his qualifications do not include official training and studies in the field of oil energy. Secondly, there is no work experience in that sector. Thirdly, he was the president’s unilateral pick.
In reaction to his selection, the President said Dr. Bynoe will learn on the job and make the right personnel selections. President Granger has not given his reason for choosing Bynoe and why he did not take the advertisement route or adopt a consensus with the five ministers who were overlooking the energy portfolio.
We come now to David Ramnarine. After acting as Commissioner of Police, Ramnarine applied for the position of Commissioner and on the list of applicants, he had two advantages over others – longest years of service, and he acted in that position. Ramnarine was not selected and was even overlooked for one of four positions of Deputy Commissioner.
Here is where things become amorphous or inelegant or unacceptable. There could be valid reasons for overlooking Ramnarine. But Ramnarine and the society do not know why he was rejected and the President has not offered a reason.
Well things are a bit murky. It depends on how you use words. The President did offer an explanation – there were things in Ramnarine’s file that did not help his case. But what are these factors? You can have stuff in your file that some consider egregious while to others those very things may be salutary.
Let me speculate. A few years ago, Ramnarine had a trenchant exchange with his subject minister, Home Affairs tsar, Clement Rohee, over money for meals and related matter for police ranks doing duty on Election Day. Ramnarine said he and his ranks did not benefit from such a disbursement; he didn’t know about the money.
Is it possible that the file of Ramnarine contains censure and accusation of insubordination and it was over that imbroglio involving Rohee?
I don’t know or want to know. My argument here is that the President is throwing stones and he lives in a glass house. No defining words on the three GECOM lists, Dr. Bynoe and David Ramnarine but up comes the President and says the Opposition Leader would help him, the President, if he could state why he hasn’t agreed to confirm Justice Benjamin. Granger is stumbling and badly too.
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