I may be wrong, but I was under the belief all these years that the ERC had judicial power and that it can compel an interested party to appear in front of it to testify in a matter of national importance. It doesn’t appear so.
When the ERC began to investigate ethnic distribution among scholarship holders during the reign of the PPP, it appointed an academic to the research. The Public Service Ministry did not cooperate and refused to submit data. There could not have been a definitive conclusion to the study. The power cancer that has been eating up this country was at work at that time.
It didn’t suit the PPP government to change the legislation to give judicial power to the ERC so it can subpoena people and, if they refuse, legally compel them to comply. The PPP would never have contemplated such a direction, because the complaint was against the PPP government itself. This is the cancer. When you are in power, you believe it would last forever. Then it turns around and bites you in the ass.
We have two glowing situations where the PPP is being bitten in the behind. First, it introduced the change to the constitution to invest the presidency with the authority to unilaterally appoint the GECOM Chairman. Why would the PPP not stick with the Carter formula? Because since the PPP will be in power forever, then it is to the PPP’s advantage to have the president pick the GECOM head if necessary. Well, we now see who is getting bitten.
The second situation is the ERC’s investigation of ethnically-based hiring practice requested by, of all persons, the PPP. As it turned out, the ERC’s research could not have been all-embracing, because GECOM’s Human Resource Manager refused to cooperate, even though she was written to three times. In its report, the ERC stated that the information by the HR person would have been critical to determine if there was ethnic bias in GECOM’s employment of non-managerial personnel. Again, the PPP got bitten in the ass.
Guyana has three important institutions, but there are stupid things. If you have a constitutional body to ensure ethnic balance and ethnic respect are maintained in a multi-racial country, then how can you make pronouncements, recommendations, indictments, and come to conclusions, if you cannot compel defendants to cooperate?
So John says Ramjohn sent him a text using the “N-word” and copied it to the manager and deputy manager. Both of the latter refused to cooperate with the ERC. How can the ERC conclude that Ramjohn used an ethnic slur?
Then there is the Ombudsman. If God is reading this, I kindly implore that he talk to me and read the law to tell me what powers the Ombudsman has. He has to be a former judge, is paid handsomely, has his own staff and office, and has powers to investigate. But the state and its institutions are under no legal jurisdiction to act on the findings.
So the typist at a government ministry complains to the Ombudsman that she was unfairly passed over for promotion. On investigation, the Ombudsman upholds her complaint. Who can compel the minister to promote her? If the minister is like the philistines that were in the PPP government or those in the present APNU+AFC cabal then the story ends right there, and then if the Minister says he is not promoting her.
Finally, the man of the moment – James Patterson, Chairman of GECOM. I always asserted in these columns my right to voice my opinion once they are not libelous or in bad taste with the use of words. It is my belief that James Patterson is biased in favour of the ruling party and will remain so. I further feel that GECOM may not hold credible elections under Patterson in the future. But let’s talk about the stupidity of GECOM.
Where in the world is an election commission headed by persons that are the appointees of the main contestants in the elections? In Guyana, elections are administered by people who are high-up in the competing parties. It is a contradiction in terms. A judge cannot be the defendant in a case against illegal land acquisition that the plaintiff brought against him. But GECOM’s shape is as stupid as that. And we are seeing it graphically, with the head of the PNC appointing the Chairman of GECOM.
Oops! I am terribly sorry! I hereby apologize to His Excellency the President. It was the President who appointed Mr. Patterson, in his capacity as President of the Republic. It was not the leader of the PNC. Can you dig the difference?
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