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Esteemed Commissioner of GECOM and former Minister of many portfolios, Mr. Clement Rohee, has taken to the media, according to a Newsroom report of January 21, 2023 to ‘once again rebuff my efforts to dictate to GECOM’. His major contention is Mr. Alexander consistently fails to make distinction between policy decisions made at the statutory meetings of GECOM and internal administrative matters in relation to staff at GECOM`s Secretariat with the organization`s constitutional responsibilities. This accusation is quite ironic.
Mr. Rohee, during his tenure as Minister of Home Affairs insisted on personally interviewing every overseas applicant who required and applied for a Work Permit. Apparently, to determine whether an applicant meets the requirements was a policy determination, rather than an administrative determination. He certainly showed no appreciation then for his now proclaimed “internal administrative matters”.
Against that warped experiential background, Mr. Rohee arrogates to himself the authority to determine what is in the realm of policy engagement as opposed to administration. In doing so, he describes the Commission`s constitutional responsibility as an internal administrative/secretariat responsibility. This is quite apposite to his own conduct as a Minister. He clearly embraces double standards aimed at serving his purpose in the specific circumstance.
Article 161A. (1) of the Constitution states: The Elections Commission shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of the Secretariat of the Commission, which shall comprise the officers and employees of the Commission, and for the appointment of all staff to the offices thereof …”
This article specifies three things: (1) It clearly states that the Commission is responsible for all staffing related matters of the Secretariat; (II) It specifies ‘ensuring efficiency’ as a key aspect of the Commission`s responsibility; and (iii) that reference to the Secretariat means staff and employees.
On November 9, 2022 the Chief Elections Officer wrote to the Chairperson of GECOM stating the following: I hereby request your approval for Mr. Aneal Giddings, IT manager, to be seconded, with immediate effect, as ‘Operations Coordinator’ within the Operations Department of the Commission`s Secretariat to carry out the responsibilities that would normally fall within the list of duties of the DCEO. In this regard, it is proposed that Mr. Giddings be paid a monthly duty allowance of Three hundred Thousand Dollars (300,000).
He also stated that Mr. Giddings is the most suitable Senior Manager who can be relied upon to manage … with the required level of efficiency. Any such correspondence should be addressed to the Commission through the Chairperson, especially since no such position and accompanying job description existed. However, the Chairperson signed granting approval on the said day, without any reference or deference to the Commission, which is responsible for staffing.
Since no such position existed in GECOM’s organisational chart, its creation can only be considered to be a matter of policy. To wit, the Constitution specifies that the Commission has the responsibility for the efficient functioning of the Secretariat, yet the Chairperson and now the Honorable Clement Rohee are deeming the action of the Chair to be an internal administrative matter. It also begs the question: Why did the CEO, the Administrative Head of the Secretariat find it necessary to seek the Chairman`s approval for what is now being described as an internal administrative matter?
The Chairperson has no authority to determine policy matters, unless the law clearly specifies or the Commission delegates. Neither caveat is applicable, in this case. Even in the case of emergencies or expediency, if the Chairperson acts on behalf of the Commission, such actions should be reported soonest, for ratification. In this instance, the Commission became aware two months after the illicit appointment. Many meetings and other opportunities were not taken to report on the matter.
Mr. Rohee also cites a previously unauthorised appointment as the basis for turning a blind eye to yet another such act. It should be noted that the Commission at that time reprimanded the officer who perpetrated that act. Rohee`s resort to that case as justification flies in the face of all that Rohee and his ilk are saying about transformation of GECOM and the electoral apparatus. Clearly, they are unprincipled and embrace whatever suits their purpose. That such is the case will become manifest as this matter and related matters, such as the appointment of the DCEO unfolds, suffice to say that the position of DCEO was advertised in December 2018.
Four years have elapsed with no routine action taken, or urgency being attached, to filling the vacancy, notwithstanding shortlisting, and calls for the position to be filled. However, in the meantime, a job description is development, the position of Operations Coordinator (DCEO approximate) created, and a so-called ‘secondment’ effected, under the radar, with no disclosure to the Commission for over two months.
Notwithstanding the irregularity surrounding this matter, Mr. Rohee sees my enlightened position as an attempt to dictate. In that regard, he either does know of, or understand, the constitutional provisions; or intended to facilitate non-adherence while deeming justifiable reason, constitutional stipulations, and good governance practices to be dictatorial. His call for a vote on an irregular creation of, and appointment to, a position is his notion of democratic action.
Mr. Rohee also raised unrelated matters, in his letter, in his attempt to have his position and himself gain public acceptance. For the innocent and non-partisans, here are some facts for your consideration.
- He refers to unproven and an erroneous allegation against Mr. Vishnu Persaud in his attempt to paint me as racist. Fortunately, no such allegations can be honestly and evidentially levelled against me, in relation to public offices that I have occupied. With specific reference to Mr. Persaud, I said and maintain that when he was appointed to the position of DCEO, he was not the holder of a requisite first degree.
The court never dealt with that matter. What the court dealt with was whether I accused him of creating the pretext for his employment. I never did, nor intended to, since I was quite aware of who created the pretext. Go read the judgment. It will reveal either Rohee’s sinister use, or misinterpretation, of the judgment.
- Similarly, I argued that Roxanne Myers` academic qualification was superior to that of Mr. Persaud, when they competed for the position of DCEO. Rohee references the ERC`s conclusion that Mr. Persaud had a higher score. That is true, but politicized scores are no reflection of objective comparison. Ms. Myers` average grade for her Master`s is B. Mr. Persaud`s is D. Those are not gradation of ethnicity, they are comparative academic performances. In that regard, Rohee did not reference the more fundamental conclusions of the ERC, that is there are no institutional rules or practices in GECOM which allows for ethnic discrimination in hiring, and the six Commissioners are all vigilant to ensure that no such discrimination can be practiced without challenge.
Rohee`s attempted spin cannot change any of the facts that are out there. Nor can it make his case for the illicit creation of a post, and an irregular appointment to that post acceptable.