Lowenfield’s former assistant makes unsuccessful bid to reverse termination

…no progress on filling additional vacancies in GECOM Secretariat

It has been revealed that Duarte Hetsberger, the sacked assistant of former Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, has met with the Chairperson of GECOM, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, to get his job back.

Former Personal Assistant to the Chief Elections Officer, Duarte Hetsberger

In fact, this meeting was among the things discussed during GECOM’s statutory meeting on Tuesday. In an interview with this publication, GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj explained that the Commission was briefed in further detail on Hetsberger’s dismissal and his meeting with the Chair last week.
“(We discussed) remuneration of scrutineers. The termination of Hetsberger, we got a fuller report on it. The discussion on that is still inconclusive. It hasn’t moved further… basically he had asked to see the Chairman. So, the Chairman met with him last week,” Gunraj explained.
GECOM, meanwhile, has vacancies for key senior positions within the Elections Secretariat, including Assistant Chief Elections Officer, Chief Accountant, Legal Officer, Logistics Officer and Civic and Voter Education Manager. Even though there are shortlists for these positions, Gunraj noted that the Commission has not gotten around to interviewing the candidates.
Last week, Hetsberger was sacked on allegations that he tampered with a computer belonging to the Commission. Hetsberger had served as personal assistant to embattled former Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, who was also fired from GECOM for his role in attempting to derail the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
His termination came after the Elections Commission Secretariat’s Information Technology (IT) officers found that the computer system that had been assigned to Hetsberger was completely wiped. According to a reliable source at the Secretariat, this discovery was made during a routine check by the IT Department.
“The IT people were called to power up the systems, and when they did, they found that it had been reset as if it carried no programme. When they checked to see what happened, they found that all information on the computer was deleted… and since no information was found [on the computer], nobody is able to say what was the nature of the information,” the source had indicated.
Nevertheless, a report detailing this was submitted to the seven-member Election Commission, which took a decision to terminate Hetsberger’s employment effective January 1, 2022.
Meanwhile, Hetsberger, who was initially arrested in 2020 during the Police probe into electoral fraud, was in the news last year after it was revealed that his employment contract was renewed for another three years by Lowenfield just before he was sent on leave and ultimately fired in August 2021.
This raised eyebrows at the electoral body, since the process reportedly did not follow protocol. This publication was told that Hetsberger’s contract was supposed to end on December 8, 2021.
Instead, Lowenfield renewed Hetsberger’s contract in June 2021. Lowenfield’s own contract was subsequently terminated on August 12, 2021, along with his Deputy Roxanne Myers and Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo. The trio is before the courts facing a series of electoral fraud charges.
It was reported that the renewal of Hetsberger’s contract breached a stipulation that requires contracted employees to give notice of their intent to renew their contract three months before it is supposed to expire. (G3)