By Ramona Luthi
Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday asserted that the overlooked candidate for the position of the Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) may find it difficult to become re-employed because of the “hatchet job” that is being done to his character.
His comment comes on the heels of the remarks made by GECOM’s A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Commissioner, Vincent Alexander who was quoted in the media saying that Persaud was not chosen for the position even though he was the top ranker, because he has a history of faking his qualifications and a questionable past performance.
“I believe they not only gave a distorted view of the issues at GECOM but they did a hatchet job on the individual, Vishnu Persaud and I’m very worried that, if this goes unanswered, this person may never find a job anywhere else, having this distortion about his qualification and performance just to justify a partisan, political aim or decision at GECOM” Jagdeo told media operatives during a press conference, while expressing alarm that this Government would “stoop so low in this manner to denigrate this individual.”
Tuesday last, even though Persaud proved to be the top ranking candidate for the post of the DCEO at GECOM, a casting vote made by Chairman of the Commission, James Patterson, chose second ranker, Roxanne Meyers for 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.
Coming to the Persaud’s defense today, the Opposition Leader said that had the man’s past employment record and alleged faking of his qualifications been true, it would have been brought to light years ago.
“Let us examine the history of what took place at GECOM. First of all, Vishnu Persaud, who is no member of the People’s Progressive Party, not even a supporter of the PPP, was there in GECOM from 2001 as the PRO. Vincent Alexander joined GECOM about ten years ago in 2007. In 2014, Vishnu Persaud was appointed the substantive DCEO of GECOM without a casting vote…At that time, Alexander was on the Commission. There was no issue about his performance. No issue about his qualifications,” he explained.
Moreover, Jagdeo questioned whether a bad appraisal was used for disqualifying Persaud in the first place.
“If you argue that the performance was bad, then we should look at the performance appraisal done by the machinery at GECOM. Was there an adverse performance appraisal throughout the entire history in his tenure as DCEO or even before that? Was that used as the basis for disqualifying him, since his past performance sank him? Had that been the case, had he had a bad track record and he faked his qualifications, I don’t believe that they would have appointed him substantively the DCEO in 2014- support from both sides,” he posited.
Persaud acted as the DCEO within GECOM since 2014. However, when his contract expired in the period when there was no Elections Commission Chairman, he was informed that he had to re-apply for the position.
Commissioner, Vincent Alexander has been recorded in the media defending the decision to appoint Roxanne Meyers- the runner up for the position, arguing that “Vishnu emerged with the highest average because the PPP scored him very high, we [APNU] scored him average and therefore he emerged with the highest score.”
According to him, Meyers was more qualified for the position as she held a B+ Master’s Degree average and Persaud holds a D+.
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.
He also appealed for those who were making comments which are false and not factual about his previous stint at GECOM to desist from doing so, as he stoutly defended his performance at every level of assignment.
“I would ask those people who are seeking to cast aspersions on my reputation to refrain from doing so and judge me on the basis of what you know of me and not on what is perceived,” he proffered.