After a period defined by the most volcanic threats to the foundation of our revered democratic principles, a deserving President Dr Irfaan Ali’s PPPC Government has correctly been installed for the next five years.
Although the new Government is well on course in addressing urgent national needs, a new priority is the rebalancing of our perilously fractured footings and the exposed decay of our election system that was so violently abused along the way.
The nation understands that, were it not for the almost global rejections and the harmonized, principled positions by the local Opposition parties, Guyana would have become a doomed pariah state.
Contextually, one easily recognises that the embarrassing roles of key employees and obvious infiltration at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) now demand a forensic analysis before the core issues can be addressed with appropriate constitutional reform.
As a precursor, or perhaps parallel approach, however, the situation necessitates the fully scrutinised examination and absolute cleansing of that institution. No doubt, this would likely be the most prudent approach towards revamping it into a transparent, accountable organisation that would hold free and fair elections.
Our nation can no longer afford the filthy contaminants of the nature of Lowenfield and Mingo, whose self-serving interests have influenced actions contrary to the organisation’s constitutional mandate, based on evidence publicly witnessed.
Given the unapologetic sacrificial mindset of the main Opposition PNC, the Government must not hesitate to have a thorough look at the Representation of the People Act (RPA) along with other pieces of legislation for revision. Certainly, mechanisms must be put in place to cover all the loopholes that were exploited by the thieves at GECOM, who held our country to ransom for months.
The reform mechanisms must, however, not be limited to merely covering the loops, but addressing overwhelming improvements to realise efficiency, efficacy, and consistently satisfactory results that have the confidence of the citizenry.
Further, the staff at GECOM must be people with a high degree of integrity, and there must be strong deterring penalties that are intended to condition the behaviour by staff against participation in electoral fraud.
Notably, the statements of poll verified at the places of polls are almost sacred and much revered documents which, importantly, must be used to strengthen and give legitimacy to the election results. The fact that corrupt GECOM officials, together with the PNC, have to date refused to reveal the originals of these statements for the March 02, 2020 polls is most abominable.
Consequently, consideration must be given to complementing the process with supportive technologically astute mechanisms such as electronic fingerprinting at polling stations.
Further, GECOM must have oversight mechanisms to scrutinise the performance of all Returning Officers (RO), and employment procedures must be put in place to ensure that the best persons are employed.
There must be no more discrimination of the nature of what happened to Mr. Vishnu Persaud. Clear criteria-driven benchmarks should be put in place to inform a fairness and equity employment policy by the Organisation. Further, it is imperative that GECOM publish the names of the permanent staff and the “permanent” temporary staff that are employed, and this should be used to make reconciliations with the employment payment records in IFMAS system at the Ministry of Finance. The revelations regarding the numerous “phantom” workers will be brought to light, and possibly eradicated.
These investigations must expose any GECOM staff involved with electoral offences or wrongdoings during the elections. Some staff blatantly blundered, as the world stood by and witnessed the numerous attempts to steal a Government.
As for the lack of proper financial accountability, GECOM must be thoroughly audited, and the world will have another look at more serious levels of corruption, and possibly, many more may be dragged to the courts to face charges.
The APNU/PNC must stop fooling their supporters with talks which suggest that the election petition will be over soon. It is factual that the world saw the blatant attempt to thief a Government, and their blunt refusal to produce their statements of poll. The Statements of Recount they now want to rely on evidence a clear case to be thrown out. Notwithstanding, it is the view of many that the PPPC’s 2015 Petition must first be heard in the courts.
Attempts by GECOM staff at all levels must never be to delay and frustrate any winning list of candidates at the elections, and all involved in the rigging attempt must be dealt with condignly.
Editor, it took a special brand of grounded foundation, concern for citizen wellbeing, maturity and ethos in a party to overcome the conspirators in and out of GECOM at the last elections. Much of these qualities were inspired in the PPPC by the works of our endeared Mother of the Nation, Former President Mrs. Janet Jagan, whose work at moulding the Party was absolutely imbued in the reactions. Please permit me to recognise that this missive coincides with what would have been the centenary of her involvement, which lives on within the Guyanese people.