Home Letters Eliminating electoral fraud and financial mismanagement
The 2020 electoral fraud and the terrible financial mismanagement have caused a breakdown in society which must urgently be remedied. we will make suggestions how this could be done, firstly by dealing with electoral fraud and then financial mismanagement.
1. Electoral fraud
GECOM needs to be reformed immediately if we are to hold LGE. It was announced that there would be an international Commission of Inquiry to report how GECOM could be improved. Most of GECOM’s procedures are quite good but they go awry because of the personnel who work them. The following could be done:
(a) GECOM staff mirroring the composition of the population. The staff of GECOM should be recruited on the bases of merit and mirror the racial composition of the population. At the moment, the overwhelming majority of GECOM staff are drawn from one racial group. If they are drawn to mirror the racial composition of the population, fraud would be stymied. Eventually, when things become equilibrial, then there would be no need to think of recruiting on a racial basis.
(b) Staff better qualified, paid and sharper discipline. The staff should be better qualified than the public service and their pay should be higher. Disciplinary penalties should be more stringent and the courts should be more involved in this regard.
(c) Penalties must be a deterrent. Penalties for electoral fraud should be so severe that they would deter others from getting involved. The courts should not fail in their national duty.
(d) Oath of democracy. All GECOM staff must take an oath to uphold democracy and never to undermine it. Betrayal of the oath should attract harsh punishment.
(e) The full force of the law must be fairly used on those before the courts for electoral fraud. This would help to strengthen Guyana’s democracy.
(f) The enormous financial expenditure accorded to GECOM should be carefully monitored and audited to prevent waste and theft.
2. Financial fraud. Financial fraud of the kind recently exposed is due to:
(i) Ministers and public servants have a deep mindset that the State is all-powerful and no one could restrain the State. They also feel that those who operate within the parameters of the State like themselves could do as they like with impunity. They could act recklessly and illegally and there would never be any sanctions.
(ii) Ministers and many modern public servants are ignorant of the financial regulations and the law under which they must operate. This ignorance had led them to act in subjective and corrupt ways.
(iii) After independence, the financial regulations and controls were consciously ignored or broken down and this led to the growth of a culture of financial laxity and bribery which we are now suffering.
This situation could be addressed by:
(a) Widespread public education as to the powers of the State and how it could be restrained. Such education could be done in the schools, the media and the public service.
(b) Reprinting the financial regulations and general orders in thousands of booklets to give every public servant including the regional officers. There should be regular short sessions to discuss and explain these regulations and orders.
(c) Senior officers in the public service must constantly enforce discipline in their departments.
(d) Those persons who are before the courts for financial improprieties will have to allow the law to take its course.