Leadership environment at GECOM that obtained when Persaud was appointed as Deputy CEO should also be considered

Dear Editor,

It would appear from the report on pages 18/19 of SN of Friday, June 15, that a case for/against selection of one candidate for the position of Deputy Chief Election Officer is based largely on prior related experience in GECOM, first as its Public Relations Officer and later Deputy Chief Election Officer, arguably on the basis of a ‘consensus’ (other informed observers would substitute the word ‘conciliation’) at the time and which required no casting vote.

However, what was not taken into account was the leadership environment which obtained at the time – one which in fact exercised critical control of the decision-making process even of the Commission, much moreso of the staff themselves.

So that much of the latter’s performance was directed – to the extent that theirs was more a matter of compliance than of initiative or creativity.

The problem to be addressed therefore is whether or not the records would show that there was any attempt to conduct formal evaluations of staff performances, and by whom, the results of which could now be revisited.

In the absence of such documentation therefore, exactly whatever issues could be raised about the standards of performance of any staff member, would have been a matter of some speculation.

Much of the foregoing assumptions, however, have been addressed by the disaffected candidate in SN’s letter column of Sat 16 June.

Note the following quote, carefully constructed as it is:

“Naturally I have seen all of the Performance Appraisals prepared for me by former Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally under whose direct supervision I worked up to 2014….”

The above indicates a clear accountability malconstruct, since the Deputy should have been reporting direct to the Chief. If the former’s submission is accurate then it confirms the earlier observation about the leadership style then in operation.

In the process however, the impression is given that the Commissioners themselves may not have been privy to the mentioned appraisals – a situation that would have left both parties to merely form impressions – an obviously weak basis for arriving at any trustworthy conclusions.

If also there were at any time any formal queries about educational/professional certification, surely the current technology should render confirmation easily accessible.

However, in the midst of this confused dialogue one must wonder why the Chief Election Officer if in place at the time of the candidate’s performance as Deputy, has not been invited to offer any comment, preferably in writing.

At the time of writing the above, there appeared to be comparative reticence about the relevant qualification, skills and competencies of the purportedly successful candidate. It therefore needs to be understood how the ratings were arrived at – very likely on a party basis.

If so, it is in such a circumstance that a newly arrived arbiter would have refrained from rushing to judgement, as sensitive as he must be, to the degree of transparency and trust implicated in an outcome that was bound to resonate beyond the walls of GECOM.

There was always the organisational requirement to review all the relevant records before investing in a decision that could justify approbation, and forestall recrimination.

However, since committing to the above observations one is disturbed by the subsequent published pronouncements by representing parties involved. For an organisation whose purpose is to operate at the highest degree of discretion and trustworthiness, the disparate attempts at self-worthiness surely subverts the requisite level of confidence a nation is expected to repose in it.

These outpourings of self-justification are troubling signs of the defective constitutional entity which GECOM has been for some time. Who has read the Reports of the various elections Observer Missions of 2006 and forward?

So that this current display of self-defence only speaks to organisational dysfunctionalities some of which have been recorded in a Consultancy Report tendered around 2006.

Yours faithfully,

E.B. John

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