Home Letters Purging threat to public servants is a dictatorial obscenity
For more than three weeks now, the public was shocked to learn that the Department of Public Service in the Ministry of the Presidency transferred more than $20 million of public funds to the children of Minister Simona Broomes in 2018 and 2019. The Government remained silent until today, June 14, when Joe Harmon, the Director General in the Ministry of the Presidency, who is a former Minister, announced that the funds were part of scholarship arrangements for the adult children. He did not explain why it took almost a month to provide information, nor did he provide information about the scholarships, whether these scholarships were advertised or whether they were special arrangements to benefit the children of Ministers.
The payments were meant to be a secret and, clearly, the APNU/AFC Government was angry over the exposure. Like any brutal dictatorship, there were consequences. A whole department in the public service was fired by the new Minister who replaced Minister Rupert Roopnaraine, and who is also a senior WPA executive. The reason for their firing was that they might have been responsible for exposing the secret. After first denying that any worker was fired, Harmon confirmed the workers were fired, but that the Government reviewed the decision and decided to, instead, suspend the workers until the completion of an investigation. While not confirming that the investigation is to find out who was responsible for exposing the information of the more than $20 million transfer to Minister Broomes’ children, the public knows that this is the reason.
The investigation is another set-up, a farce, an insult to the people, and adding salt to the injury. On June 14, it was announced that the investigation will be done by a senior PNC member, Mr Lance Carberry. This is like putting a cat to watch milk. Having been caught in an act of purging, APNU/AFC reverses itself, pretending to honour the due process. But there is absolutely no impartiality, not even the pretence of impartially, in this obscene, fake investigation. The truth is that there has been an abuse of public funds and APNU/AFC is desperately trying to change the narrative.
As part of the change in narrative, APNU/AFC has their apologists calling for purging in the public service. The call from David Hinds, the WPA member, demanding that all PPP “moles” be purged is an open, obscene, Nazi, Hitlerite threat to public servants. Who are PPP “moles” that Hinds wants to be purged? Persons suspected of voting for the PPP? All Indo-Guyanese people working in the public service? Anyone suspected of being a “whistleblower”? Last week, Guyana and the world observed the anniversary of the brutal murder of Walter Rodney, it is tangible evidence that Rodney’s freedom fighter party has been totally bought out by the dictators they once fought against.
It was nauseating when Volda Lawrence insisted her Government is only obligated to hire “PNC” people. It is even more nauseating now as David Hinds demand a “purging”. Volda Lawrence was repeating PNC’s founding leader, Forbes Burnham’s mantra of party paramountcy. For more than four years now, every step APNU/AFC has made has been designed to restore the old PNC’s philosophy of party paramountcy. Now David Hinds wants to strengthen party paramountcy by layering it with an ugly Nazi, Hitlerite purge.
Essentially, every public servant will now have to openly become a card-carrying member of the PNC, an out-and-out PNC activist. Any public servant who is unwilling to become a card-carrying member of the PNC, who is unwilling to stoop at the feet of the PNC leaders will become suspect, will become deemed a PPP “mole”. The demand for the “flushing” out of alleged PPP “moles” has already driven fear among public servants. In effect, the purging call is a threat to all public servants to carry out all instruction given, no questions asked, even if illegal and even if they are being asked to condone wrong.
It is an open secret – the public servants who were initially fired and then suspended were being punished because the Government suspected they were the source of information that more than $20 million from the public service department’s budget was transferred to two children of Minister Broomes. For such transfers of public funds, there is no right of secrecy. This, by law, must be public information. Whatever reasons are proffered for the transfer of taxpayers’ money to any citizen cannot be shrouded in secrecy. To now spend taxpayers’ money for an investigation of how the information became public is adding salt to the injury.
The threats, the “flushing” out, are all part of a purging policy belonging to brutal dictatorships. Such authoritarian purging has absolutely no place in even a fledgeling democracy. Clearly, there were people bothered by the abuse of public funds and used their right of whistleblowing that all democracies today promote. In fact, in 2018, Guyana enacted whistleblowing as a right of all citizens. Whether the whistleblower is from that particular department or not is no reason for any one of those public servants to be fired or suspended. Not only has the whistleblowing right been abrogated, but the appointment of a clearly biased investigator also renders this ugly incident an obscene, Nazi-like purging.
Dr Leslie Ramsammy