Read the Riot Act to those PPP-affiliated bureaucrats who are undermining the Government
By David Hinds
SINCE losing power, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been hammering the new Government on alleged discrimination of persons in the Government system who are known to be PPP members and supporters.
The point-man for this campaign is former president, Donald Ramotar. Mr. Ramotar has been trying to proverbially ‘suck cane and blow whistle’ at the same time. He has argued that the Government has been going specifically after African Guyanese PPP members and supporters; then, in the same breath, he has charged the Government with ethnic cleansing of Indian Guyanese from the Public Service. In the June 18, 2016 edition of the Guyana Times, he complained about ethnic cleansing at GuySuCo, and listed nine persons — all Indian Guyanese — whom he claims were either “dismissed, asked to resign, or pressured to resign.”
Ethnic cleansing is a serious charge in any society, but particularly in a heightened ethnic environment such as Guyana’s. I start from the premise that Mr. Ramotar is not lying — that these persons were indeed relieved of their employment with GuySuCo. But he has not gone further than that; he has to make public why these persons were dismissed or asked to resign by GuySuCo. If that information is furnished, we would then be able to determine whether or not the charge of ethnic discrimination is valid.
In response to Mr. Ramotar’s charges that African Guyanese members of the PPP were being targeted, I had made the observation that if African Guyanese were the hired enforcers by the PPP and its government, then it is only fair that they would be the ones to be targeted for prosecution when the law goes after enforcers.
I want to make a related observation today: Does it not strike Mr. Ramotar that the list of PPP enforcers is made up of African Guyanese and the list of allegedly targeted top officers at GuySuCo is made up of all Indian Guyanese? Does this not tell Guyana something about the PPP’s attitude to the roles of the different ethnic groups during its reign? I leave it there for now.
Since Mr. Ramotar has raised what is happening at GuySuCo, I am forced to reveal — earlier than I had intended to — the matter of security workers at GuySuCo Head Office, who met with me to complain about discrimination at the hands of supervisors who are openly sympathetic to the PPP. These complaints include physical assault by supervisors, unfair working hours, and unfair punishment of workers who challenge discriminatory practices. The named supervisors are said to be loyal to the PPP, and openly express their dislike for the present Government to ranks whom they perceive to be supporters of the Government on account of their ethnicity.
I have also heard complaints from field workers from Buxton, who are charging discrimination at the hands of superiors who also claim dislike of the Government and loyalty to the PPP.
The Guysuco issue is not isolated — workers from two ministries have come to see me to complain of discrimination by PPP-affiliated superiors, and about direct and indirect acts aimed at undermining the ministries. According to the testimonies of the workers, these PPP people have continued to engage in acts of corruption, discriminatory employment and promotion practices, and discriminatory allocation of contracts. Threats of legal action and termination of employment against junior staff who threaten to complain to higher authorities have transformed the workplaces into an environment of fear.
What is clear to me, and what I am sure Mr. Ramotar knows, is that although the PPP is gone from office, because of its meticulous staffing of the government bureaucracy with its loyal supporters while in office, it continues to exert enormous influence on the day-to-day administration of the Government. My understanding is that because these PPP functionaries are covered either by Public Service tenure or are protected by contracts, the ministers’ hands are tied.
My own view is that these factors should not deter the ministers from demanding that PPP activists cease these acts of overt and covert undermining of the Government. I am not advocating firing workers because of their political affiliation, but there must be rules under which public servants must function. Just as the Government should not discriminate against workers and bureaucrats because of their political affiliation, workers and bureaucrats should not be guided by their partisan affiliation in the discharge of their functions.
It is time the Government reads the Riot Act to these functionaries. The Government has a duty to protect all workers from discrimination, and to ensure that its policies are not sabotaged by partisan detractors within the system. It is one thing to oppose Government policy as a matter of principle, but it’s another thing to undermine those policies simply because you don’t like the parties in Government. It is time these functionaries be told in no uncertain terms that “this confounded nonsense must stop.”
More of Dr. Hinds’ writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics, and on his website http://www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org