Any effort to fight corruption must be free from political control

Dear Editor,

It was the APNU and AFC before the 2011 elections and again as coalition partners while in full campaign mode before the May 2015 election, which saw a jumbie behind every bush and screamed corruption. Today, corruption is not about perception but it is real. This is compounded by the manifest acts of cover-up by the executives and their culture of non-disclosure or manipulation of information, and non-answers to questions raised by MPs during deliberations in the National Assembly.

I welcome with bated breath the disclosure in sections of the media on 12th September, 2017, which read ‘UN expert has plans to tackle corruption, drugs and to spearhead anti-corruption projects here’. The UN including the UNODC and its personnel like all other international agencies will continue to play significant roles in Guyana. But I caution these experts and international agencies that they must not be used as a fig leaf.

Any effort to fight corruption must be free from political control, if not, those efforts will be misdirected to shake down political opponents and protect allies. The anti-corruption fight must be led by actors outside of those who exercise discretionary, coercive, or administrative powers. Our current Attorney General is not in any position to lead a fight against corruption. The Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), which is a department of the Guyana Police Force that was established to support and strengthen the investigative capacity of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has now been politicized and used as a tool to target political opponents. It is lacking in operational independence. Guyanese must remember that Mr Sittlington, British expert assigned to the Guyana Police Force/SOCU was physically present when SOCU sought to arrest Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at his office.

This current initiative by the UN expert must not be hijacked by the political circus being led by the current Attorney General. The SARU and now SARA, is another political outfit masquerading under the guise of the recovery of state assets. There have been no investigations by SARA into the notorious Sussex Street Bond scandal, the $632 million drugs procurement scandal, and the $1.3 billion from the Treasury for the construction without any procurement process of the now infamous D’Urban Jubilee Park at Homestretch Avenue.

Would the Attorney General speak to the issue of $500,000 being spent on a monthly rental for a home for a government minister? Would the SARA or SOCU go after the insider trading, and the policy of sole sourcing of contracts that favours friends and financiers of the coalition government?

Therefore, the photograph and the headline and statements by credible international partners must not be misconstrued to suggest that all is well with this current government. I strongly call upon the United Nations’ experts, international agencies, organizations of international reputation not to allow themselves or the names of distinguished officials associated with them, to be used as the clean sheet to decorate a defiled bed. The APNU+AFC should stop hiding and face the light of scrutiny, transparency and accountability. They should answer the people’s questions.

Yours faithfully,

Juan Edghill, MP


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