GECOM’s current employment approach must be remedied

first_imgDear Editor,The recently published Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) advertisements of vacancies for temporary and field staff, in the local media, makes for very interesting reading. These advertisements signal that GECOM will be employing: Presiding Officers; Assistant Presiding Officers; Poll Clerks; Ballot Clerks and Information Clerks. Significantly, the closing date for applications is stated as August 23, 2018.Not so long ago, very serious and significant questions were raised by public commentators and citizens at large in relation to the need to address a balancing of the GECOM staff composition in the interest of transparency. The many allegations against the GECOM Secretariat were neither insignificant nor shallow, and there is an urgent need to advance mechanisms that would realise much-needed public confidence.Coupled with the almost laughable and extremely short timelines of GECOM’s public notices, answers to legitimate queries have been complex, deficient, and very slow in coming.Under this imposed Chairman, the situation seems to be further denigrating into the abyss of lowness, as it continuously draws too many negative and impassioned comments from observers regarding the way they are handling and processing applications for employment at the Elections Commission.It would be recalled that, only recently, the Chairman, Justice (Rt’d) James Patterson, expressed satisfaction with the work of the secretariat’s staff, although nothing much was said about how he plans to deal with the many known problems created by the same composition in the past. He also publicly admitted the need for a more transparent and objective approach by providing employment statistics of the Commission, which confirmed a glaring ethnic imbalance. This was done when he brazenly rejected a request from another GECOM Commissioner for the issue to be examined.I am in receipt of genuine documents which confirm the blatantly discriminatory, vindictive, and biased measures already applied under the responsibility of this Chairman in processing of the applications for the recruitment of trainers.More than 100 applicants were denied opportunity to get selected in the process, although the other GECOM Commissioners were assured that all the applicants would be called for training and then be given an opportunity to write an examination for possible recruitment/employment. This, by itself, has tarnished the opportunity for the Chairman to indicate an objective measure of balance.Notably, Section 17 (2) of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, No. 15 of 2000, provides that: ‘The Commission shall be responsible for appointing, on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Commission, such permanent and temporary staff to the offices of the Commission as are considered by the Commission to be necessary for the discharge of its functions under the Constitution and any written law.’From the foregoing, it is rational that:1. The Commission (and not the Secretariat) is thus directly responsible for the appointment of all staff, rather than being responsible for the appointment of senior officials who then ’usurp’ the responsibility for the appointment process of staff falling under their responsibility. In clear words, the responsibility for all appointments, both by law and the practical interpretation thereof by officials, rests with the Commissioners themselves.2. The Commission’s actions when appointing staff are governed by their general constitutional obligation under Section 162 (1) of the Constitution to: “act with impartiality and fairness in the execution of its duties”.It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the Commission is directly responsible for the recruitment and appointment of all staff, and needs to pursue this responsibility fairly and with maximum transparency and accountability.It cannot be denied that the absence of a public recruitment policy and the failure of GECOM to develop a set of objective staff selection criteria contribute towards a negative and biased view of the organisation. When made public, as it should be, these criteria will make the process less ambiguous, and provide an employment opportunity for all interested stakeholders.It will also realise an expanded pool of persons with the necessary experience to ensure the balance necessary and availability of the skill sets required. The current approach must be remedied, as it leads to a lack of consistency in the entire selection process.The measures employed under this GECOM must seek to make positive its current image by demonstrating transparency and fairness!Sincerely,Neil Kumarlast_img read more