I am now the longest serving commissioner on GECOM, 2007 to 2015. For those eight years I have seen two significant negative phenomena that have raised their ugly heads from time to time at GECOM: the removal of commissioners or attempts to remove commissioners with no explanation to the electorate whose votes the Commission is ultimately intended to guarantee and protect; and political grandstanding by some Commissioners.
The most recent grandstanding is the ludicrous contentions of Benn, Shadick and Gunraj. They have gone public on three issues:
- The preparedness of GECOM for the local government elections,
- The need for more public education on local government and
- The need for the Chief Election Officer (CEO) of GECOM to withdraw his motion challenging the validity of the Petition and submit the Commission to the scrutiny of the Court by allowing the Court to hear the substantive Petition.
On the question of the preparedness, I will not comment. I will lend my effort to GECOM being prepared and allow history to determine the correctness of the Benn, Shadick and Gunraj contention.
On the question of education on the local government system, I agree unreservedly that there is need for much more public education, suffice to say that this has been my view for umpteen years even when in 2008/9 the then Government overruled the Local Government Task Force’s unanimous decision to commence public education with assistance from CIDA.
What is of equal concern is the statements in relation to the Petition.
I find Commissioners Benn, Shadick and Gunraj’s call concocted, conflictual, and hypocritical.
GECOM’s records will reveal that it has no history of requiring the CEO to seek guidance on the construct of any case, once the initial go ahead had been given to respond to any motion brought against it. Once Counsel was retained the CEO/GECOM relied on Counsel to determine its response based on the material facts availed to Counsel and the case that could be built on those facts and the related legal provisions and arguments.
It can be no less than conspiratorial for Commissioners to want to play the role of Counsel and more than that deny the CEO the means of responding that the Justice System avails to him. It is even more glaring that two practicing lawyers would propose such a non-law approach to legal matters. The issue of fee is but a red herring. This has never, never being the concern of GECOM when the beneficiaries of GECOM’s response were those who are now the Petitioner.
Two of the Commissioners who are seeking to determine GECOM’s course of action are members of the list which is bringing the Petition. One is even an originator of the Petition, who withdrew on becoming a Commissioner. There is a clear conflict of interest. How can one be party and have an interest in the Petition and want at the same time to determine the response? This would be the perpetration of crass conflict and a conspiracy to disable the respondent.
In 2006, GECOM, in the person of the then CEO, Gocool Boodoo, admitted, to the AFC, that a seat in Linden had been wrongly allocated to the PPP/C and that the wrong would have been corrected. He however proceeded to announce the known incorrect result and subsequently advised the AFC that their only recourse was to the Court. This wrongdoing was further perpetuated when GECOM, through its Counsel, used technical grounds, founded on the manner in which the matter was filed, to have the case quashed. Now arrive, Benn, Shadick and Gunraj to accuse GECOM of the immorality of not exposing itself to the scrutiny of the Court in a circumstance where GECOM has not employed deception as was the case in 2006.
Surujbally was untouchable in 2006 when he allowed the Counsel and the law their course even in the face of deception. Now that he once again agrees to allow Counsel and the law their course he is declared an enemy of the State, Transparency and Democracy although there has been no admission of wrongdoing by GECOM.
At the end of all of the grandstanding and charade it is the Justice System that must provide the avenues for Motions, Responses and Determinations as is constitutionally mandated.
Concoction, Conflict and Hypocrisy cannot be condoned in the search for Justice and the Building of Democracy.