In the face of concerns that poor health is making him an ineffective Minister and a poor representative of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine has said that he is both fit and capable.
“I don’t believe my health affects anything. Yes, I had some issues and was hospitalized for a few days but those issues have been fully dealt with and I am fully capable of fulfilling all duties,” the long-time politician told Stabroek News yesterday.
Asked about his accomplishments since assuming responsibility for the Public Service in July, Roopnaraine however stated that he was still finding his footing.
“I’m just getting in to it. I intend to meet with all the Permanent Secretary and with the Guyana Public Service Union. In fact I have already contacted the GPSU to arrange a meeting. I am hoping to finish those arrangements by the end of the week,” the Minister noted. Pressed on whether it is a good showing of his talents to have no accomplishments to report after almost a year in a position, Roopnaraine noted that it was not yet a year and that at the year mark there would be accomplishments to report.
Meanwhile, Roopnaraine maintains that the recent concerns raised by members of his party are not enough to warrant a withdrawal from the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition.
In the wake of the state-owned Guyana Chronicle’s termination of David Hinds and Lincoln Lewis as columnists, WPA executive member Tacuma Ogunseye has posited that the party should urgently put on its agenda whether it should stay in the APNU alliance and the coalition government. This position was supported by Hinds, also a WPA executive member with both men arguing that the columnists were victims of a conspiracy to silence criticism of government.
Roopnaraine however is not convinced that these issues warrant a separation but he does believe that they warrant serious discussion.
“The issue I believe is that the leadership of the APNU of which the WPA is a part has not met recently. I don’t think the party has been disrespected. I believe this issue is best laid at the leadership of APNU; it is definitely something to be addressed,” Roopnaraine said.
A letter appearing in this week’s Sunday Stabroek referred to Roopnaraine’s health as a complication which along with political issues within the coalition has led to an intolerable situation.
The letter was written by Rohit Kanhai, a member of the overseas chapter of the WPA and published under the headline `The debate surrounding the posturing of Dr. Roopnaraine is a source of great concern for the WPA.’
Kanhai argues that the abrupt termination of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (WRCoI) posed a serious challenge to the WPA very early in the life of the new government with Roopnaraine’s silence on this matter exposing the WPA to ridicule both at home and abroad while at the same time proving to President Granger that he could rely on Roopnaraine to subvert the will of the WPA.
He further criticized the manner in which Roopnaraine was originally assigned to the Ministry of Education in 2015 without any consultations with the WPA and posited that his subsequent removal from the ministry and reassignment to another ministry in the most bizarre of manners displayed a contempt for both Roopnaraine and the WPA that would have made the Mona Lisa weep.
“Added to all of this is the issue of Dr. Roopnaraine’s health, which has dramatically complicated these matters. The volatile mix of political and health issues has led to an intolerable situation in which one cannot be discerned from the other. It is now obvious that Dr. Roopnaraine’s health issues are being manipulated for political purposes. While there is a genuine concern by the President for the welfare of Dr. Roopnaraine, it obscures the fact that it has also allowed for the manipulation of Roopnaraine to the disadvantage of the WPA. This state of affairs has now reached a breaking point,” Kanhai wrote.