Aug 09, 2020 News
Caribbean model of governance requires swift transition…
In the Caribbean, the system of governance requires for swift transition after an election takes place and a new administration secures the reins of power.
As such, any politically appointed employees within the state should understand that their role in Government has expired and therefore take immediate steps to remove themselves from office.
This is the perspective shared on Kaieteur Radio’s ‘Room 592’ on Friday by a panel of regional political commentators. The show is hosted by Dr. Yog Mahadeo and Senior Journalist/Editor, Leonard Gildarie.
During the discussion, Guyanese-born, Trinidad-based media consultant Orin Gordon were among those shared his views on what appears to be standoff between political appointees of the previous A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance For Change Government, (APNU+AFC) and the newly sworn-in People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
Gordon stressed that across the region it is customary for swift transitions to take place after a new government is elected.
He noted since Guyana, like most of the English-speaking Caribbean, ascribes to the Westminster-influenced political transitions- there is no place for transitions to last for months.
“Our Westminster model caters for very brutal transfers of power. We don’t have the luxury of two and half months of transition.
“So”, he added, “my take is that the political appointees know themselves and should not wait until the new administration removes them…do the dignified thing and resign immediately to accommodate a smooth transition of power.”
On that note, Gordon said the political appointees should take a page from the book of Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.
Gonsalves, he said “clears everything out of state property (work and residential) the day before an election and not even a toothbrush is left behind.”
He stressed: “This is a big, big…point in transitions, and I’ve never seen one done without mishap.”
He added: “Political appointments are self-evident, and, on principle, their resignation letters should be offered the morning after the elections, if their team loses. Their residential premises, if any, (too should have been vacated).”
Much like Gordon, Barbadian political analyst, Peter Wickham, believes that there is no room for agents of the previous Government to hold on to assets of the state after they have lost power.
He noted that in any mature political society, asset transition is imperative.
“When an election comes around and there is clearing of the decks, people who are political appointees should know that it is time to go. There should be cleared-out offices and state property on election eve.”
Alluding to the months-long stalemate over the elections results, Wickham noted, agents of the losing party had enough time to relinquish their connection to any property of the state.
“They had enough time to relinquish the house, the car, the keys to the car, the cell phone. So, they need to turn those things in like yesterday,” Wickham emphasized.
Further, Wickham pointed to instances where people don’t realise they are political appointees.
He referenced some of the people who work for the Guyana Chronicle.
“Some of them who say that they are not politically appointed but realistically how many of those people can serve the PPP/C administration after the way they went after Mr. Ali with the vilest attacks in the past couple of months? Realistically, I don’t think they have the capacity to do it.”
Wickham added that the new President should be given the wide scope to implement the necessary changes.
“There should be a lot of changes in key state agencies and media outlets …it comes with the territory,” he added.
Caribbean media personality, Wesley Gibbings, a Trinidadian who is busy with coverage of his country’s elections set for tomorrow, also shared a similar view. He noted that in “many instances, people await a push before they jump.”
Gibbings stressed that this should not be if conventions are established for the post-elections transitions.
The comments come on the heels of an announcement by newly-appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, that political appointees in the former APNU+AFC government have one week to quit their positions or they will be fired.
A number of them, including former Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and his legal advisor, Geeta Chandan, have both asked for leave. They were both candidates for the Coalition who operated out of the Ministry of the Presidency.
Another Coalition candidate, Ganesh Mahipaul, made the news after he said he was not granted a month to move from a government house.
In a virtual press conference on Friday, Teixeira noted that as is customary when a new government takes up office, ministers are automatically no longer ministers and they are required to vacate their offices and expected to hand over State property and assets
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