PM’s swift intervention over dismissal of GNNL Finance Controller reeks of double standards

Dear Editor,

The double standards in our political culture continue, reinforcing the importance of having an active, engaged, and vociferous civil society if we are to arrive at the stage where all are held to the same standards and play by the same rules.

Note is taken of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s speedy intervention in addressing the dismissal of the Finance Controller of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL) by the General Manager. There is the inclination to believe that the Prime Minister’s decision was informed by the General Manager’s disregard for the structure under which the organisation functions.

According to the GNNL’s structure the Finance Controller is appointed by the Board. And where the office holder is so appointed by said authority, the said authority is the only one that can bring the relationship to an end. In industrial relations management this would be considered due regard for the process. The Prime Minister, who has political responsibility for the state media, took the right decision to intervene to avoid a legal clash which would have been an embarrassment to the GNNL management and his leadership 

Having examined the extant situation where he saw the necessity of acting with haste it brings attention to a similar failure on his part, when the opportunity arose, in the termination of the relationship between the Guyana Chronicle with yours truly and David Hinds, as columnists. The termination of our contracts was not consistent with due process. I’m on record saying the decision was influenced by political expediency not universally acceptable principle.  The Prime Minister was notably silent to the violation, in spite of public discussions and urging in some quarters for him to speak.

The alacrity with which he moved to address the issue of the Finance Controller highlights the double standards society must rail against. At the same time, it is hoped his inaction on the issue pertaining to the columnists was not driven by who we are, intolerance for independent voices in the people’s media (i.e. state-owned media), political casualties considered not of consequence, the columnists did not threaten or seek legal recourse, or overzealous coalition supporters who want total compliance to government’s actions, even when wrong.

As I’m on the media issue the opportunity is being taken to remind the Prime Minister of his refusal to honour the 21st August 2012 Agreement in returning the television station to the people of Linden/Region 10. The people shall not forget the coalition’s campaign commitment to do so and his failure to so honour. It should be noted even as the Prime Minister stifles Linden/Region 10 he has personally led broadcasting expansion to other communities and regions.

A political reality check to this administration is the following hard analyses. In 2015 the Executive was won by less than 5000 votes.  In the Legislature the coalition secured a one-seat majority. In Regional Government the coalition won only Regions 4, 7, and 10. In 2016 Local Government Elections (LGE) the coalition lost most of the NDCs, coming after national outcries for LGE which were not held for more than a decade.  LGE will be held later this year and National and Regional Election is constitutionally less than two years away.

In principle Africans are not known to be silent or compliant to wrongdoing, regardless of who is in office, and must not be taken for granted. This community has fearlessly stood up to governments, whether it be in their interest or in solidarity with others for the government to do right by all. This activism was also directed to the Forbes Burnham government, a man who continues to be seen as a hero in the Black community.

There are consequences for disrespecting and mistreating people.  People vote in different forms – marking X on the ballot for another party, not going to the polls, spoiling the ballot, or voting for you. Elections are about numbers and smart politics advises you would be mindful of this, always want the numbers on your side, and will do right by the people to ensure it. 

Yours faithfully,

Lincoln Lewis