On December 21, 2010, I read a most insightful editorial in SN about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and although I do not agree with some of the issues raised I do support the view expressed that the ministry is being marginalized. The editorial painted a very dark reason for the government’s treatment of this institution, which given the logic and facts used, does seem to point in that direction. However I believe that there needs to be a holistic approach, and that the government’s actions in relation not just to this ministry but to other state- run organizations should be examined. In 1992 the present administration had the opportunity to usher in a rainbow government, just like Mandela’s South Africa. But it failed to do so, or just did not want to do so; I choose to believe the latter. Instead what occurred was the purging of public office-holders. On this issue I do agree with the editorial; however the government could argue that public office-holders at this point in time did not reflect the ethnic make-up of Guyana. Sad to say, the PPP government ushered in loyalists and friends to most of the high public posts in Guyana, which should shed light on some of this country’s present predicaments.
The PNC administration had used the ministry as a tool to cement itself on the international stage. Hence when the PPP took over, it distrusted its purpose, and orchestrated what it perceived to be the restructuring of the institution. In addition, the Office of the President also usurped some of the functions of the Foreign Minister. The continued appointment of persons who lacked the capabilities to function efficiently as ambassadors and as foreign ministers, only illustrates the arrogance of a government which cannot grasp the benefits of an efficient foreign ministry.
In closing, I would assume that the staff of the ministry would be demoralized after seeing ambassador after ambassador chosen on the basis of their friendship with the government, rather than on merit. Also one could assume that the level of training would not be up to standard, and that in order to discourage smart and radical minds, the remuneration package offered would not be attractive. As a citizen of Guyana, I hope and pray for rationality and a person who would transcend Guyana’s political zero-sum game, but I continue to view a Shakespearian tragedy.