…says position should have been given to a person who is apolitical
Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday asserted that had fairness been a part of the hiring practice at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vishnu Persaud would have been given the position of Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) at the entity since he was the top ranked candidate.
The former President’s comments came on the heels of the Chairman of GECOM, retired Justice James Patterson publicly stating that he agrees with Jagdeo- that the matter is about fairness and not race-, while offering to challenge anyone to dispute his claims of GECOM being the “best run bureaucracy in Guyana.”
“He has been there for a short while, I’m sure he is not familiar with all the bureaucracies in Guyana, yet he has made a definitive conclusion. He said also that it’s a decade old hiring practice at GECOM and he’s right about that and there have been decades long complaints about those hiring practices at GECOM. So the Chairman said he agrees with me, that it’s about fairness, it’s not about race but I think they missed the point of what I said,” Jagdeo told media operatives during a conference at his office on Thursday.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary went on to outline several points in which he believed Persaud was treated unfairly.
According to Jagdeo, lack of experience was not a factor with regards to Persaud as he has about 16 years working with the Elections Commission in various positions- three of which were as the DCEO.
“He has not had an adverse performance report in the entire period. He left GECOM not because he was fired, not because of his poor performance, he lost the job there simply because his contract expired in a period when the Commission was not functioning,” he explained.
Moreover, the Opposition Leader pointed out that Persaud was better qualified for the position as he had experience in Elections Management.
“…both candidates have MBAs…I’ve seen a new argument now about one candidate being academically superior to the other but you can make that claim when one comes from an ivy league institution. Frankly speaking, both have come from institutions, when you go online and look at the rating of those institutions, you yourself would conclude what their standings are, so there’s no big differentiation…Further to that, Vishnu Persaud has specialized training in elections management, He has certificates, he went to several training courses, etc,” Jagdeo posited.
Moreover, Jagdeo disclosed that APNU Commissioner, Vincent Alexander had failed to point out that the candidate- Roxanne Myers- who was given the post of GECOM’s new DCEO was once a student of his.
Furthermore, the Opposition Leader reiterated that the post should have been given to a person who is apolitical.
“Now I’ve see the young lady said she worked well with the Government. We’re not talking about Government. We’re talking about, as I have said before, your political views in Government, working for Government should not matter, if you work, but at GECOM, because that’s a keen contest there, and often controversial in the Guyana’s context, then you should be at least publicly apolitical” the Opposition Leader said, while highlighting that “This candidate has been openly critical of the PPP, openly mobilizing support to vote for APNU,” he said.
“So when I said that in any fair system he should have been the candidate, in any fair system…Now if another candidate, whether there were two of them and both were Afro-Guyanese, whether they had those attributes and another didn’t have those attributes, I will support the one that had those attributes…” Jagdeo explained.
As such, he concluded that the only factor that hindered Persaud from the position was his race.
“…the only factor here is his race. And so the fairness principle was never applied because of that one factor….”
Earlier this month, even though Persaud proved to be the top ranked candidate for the post of DCEO at GECOM, a casting vote made by Chairman of the Commission saw the second ranked candidate, Myers receiving the position.
This action came in light of the recent disclosures made by PPP officials that candidates applying for posts at GECOM were being rejected and accepted based on their ethnicity and political alignment.
Persaud had earlier defended his track record as DCEO stating that “I have always done my work professionally. I have never had racial or political bias in my work. I have never showed any … and I would not want to make a comment that would cast a shadow on my past record,” he insisted.