Home Letters Would political appointees honourably demit office?
Whenever there is a change in administration in any country, “political appointees” demit office.
Political appointees were chosen on the instruction of the political directorate, presumably because they have some sense of political, or ideological, or racial affinity with the ruling party and, by extension, loyalty to it. On change of government, they leave voluntarily, without being asked.
Even in a university in America, when a new President takes over, deans and directors of offices submit their resignations, but the tradition has been to instruct them to continue their service unless the President really wants them out.
Would appointees under the previous regime in Guyana submit their resignation now that there is a new Government? The new President should have the freedom to make appointments in important bureaucratic positions, Government agencies, state corporations, foreign missions, and the university. All of these heads and top appointees, including the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of UG, should demit office. The President and his Government should have an input in selection to fill these critically important offices that were made in violation of the spirit of democratic governance.
The President and his Government come with their own agenda. They would like to implement their manifesto or programme the people vote for. They would like to have persons they are comfortable with in critical posts. Rather than wait to be asked to demit office, the officers should voluntarily submit their resignations.
I recall Hydar Ally resigned as PS (to the Education Ministry) when there was a change in administration. If I were appointed to head a department or a management position at UG, I would resign following a change in Government, especially if I were appointed under a caretaker administration. A new President must have loyalists (with competence) heading every department to execute his or her agenda, especially in a country like Guyana, where every major appointment is politically or racially aligned. Even a professional, non-politically affiliated person like me would not fit in with the goal of a winning party, unless asked to undertake a specific task.
Parties and candidate run for office to implement their agenda. What would be the purpose of winning an election if appointees of another party are running the affairs of ministries (or the Government) and the university?
Eyebrows were raised when appointments were made by the caretaker administration after December 21, 2018. I studied comparative and international politics, a field in which I earned one of my doctorates. In my studies and readings, no caretaker administration, especially one that lost a no-confidence motion, ever undertook permanent appointments. They were all automatically considered to be interim or acting, and they all leave office upon completion of the election.
The coalition violated the spirit of democracy and the effects of the no-confidence motion when it made new appointments between December 21 and August 2, 2020. It was rather bizarre for a caretaker regime to make new appointments or renew appointments. To the extent that professional standards are employed in making political appointments, they are limited to technical or program policy expertise. Any other appointment/appointments violated principles, morality, ethics, and decency, if not laws of the country.
What kind of (educated) person would want to retain a post if appointed by an administration that was a caretaker or held power illegally? It would be shameless to stay on. If they are professional and people of integrity, and if they are worth their salt, they would resign. All those appointments were unethical, and the appointees should submit their resignation and re-apply when the positions are re-advertised.
All appointees or those hired between Dec 21, 2018 and August 2, 2020 should do the honourable thing and resign, and allow President Ali the option of retaining or replacing them, including at UG.
As Freddie Kissoon pointed out, UG is in financial and leadership crisis. The Chancellor and VC should offer their resignation to the President. Both were somewhat ‘political’.
The Chancellor, Edward Greene, appointed last October, penned in an article that Burnham made enormous gains in political support in the 1968 and 1973 elections. Anyone of integrity would know that is not factual. Burnham massively rigged the 1968 elections with phantom voters. And in 1973, the army was used to rig elections, opening fire against those who sought to protect the ballot boxes, in process killing two. Greene left out both facts in his writing on Guyana elections, in which he claimed Burnham made gains. Greene should come out and apologise for those inaccurate statements, since he now heads a university. Those victories, as he described them, were frauds.
I am reminded that neither Chancellor JE Greene nor Vice Chancellor Paloma Mohammed, both appointed during the Caretaker regime, condemned the financial abuse at UG during the tenure of the previous Vice Chancellor. (Silence is support for wrongdoing).
They did not even order an investigation or a forensic audit of the many allegations at that institution. One must not paper over complaints. They should step down, and let the new Government decide if they should stay on. A new UG board should be appointed, and it should be charged with selection for both positions.
Also, political appointees in other institutions should immediately submit their resignations. If not, they must be terminated. The law and principles of governance are on the side of the new President.
Dr Vishnu Bisram