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Technical Officer, Deputy Permanent Secretary suspended over Culture Minister’s Phagwah speech error

At least two senior officers of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Culture, Youth and Sport have been suspended and a third person has reportedly opted to leave  the job, in the wake of mistake made by Minister Nicolette Henry in her Phagwah speech.

Demerara Waves Online News has been reliably informed that Technical Officer to the Minister, Retired Major Hubert Meusa and Deputy Permanent Secretary, Steve Ninvalle have been suspended for one week with pay.

Repeated efforts to contact Ninvalle by phone and text proved futile. When contacted, Meusa denied he was suspended and said he was at work up to Thursday, but sources said he was not seen at work.

Sources said they have been accused of improperly preparing for the event last Friday, including not writing the minister’s speech well in advance. In that address she had inaccurately described Phagwah as the Festival of Lights instead of the Festival of Colours- an utterance that has sparked off widespread criticism and mockery of the Culture Minister.

Permanent Secretary of the Department of the Public Service, Reginald Brotherson said he heard that Ninvalle was sent home temporarily, but he has not seen any documentation. Generally, Brotherson explained public servants appointed through the Public Service Commission (PSC) have to be disciplined by that body unlike contracted employees who can be sanctioned by, for example, a Permanent Secretary can discipline Deputy Permanent Secretary  after following due process.

Sources also said Public Relations Officer, Mondale Smith, who had live streamed the event on Facebook, was accused of leaking the video to the media and embarrassing the minister. Smith could not be immediately reached for comment to confirm whether he was asked to return a cellular phone to the ministry and whether he has since left the job. One of his more recent Facebook posts reads: “When you push a loyalist to the edge to hide your faults the time comes when the script would be flipped and you will not like the ugly that will follow…Be afraid, be very afraid of what is about to be unleashed like you never imagined! There is a thin line between Love and hate!!! Battle lines are drawn…Laughing as I walk away😈👹… Into the belly of the beast!!!”

  • Keith

    This is a joke, one can understand if the support staff provided the Minister with flawed data e.g. 6% instead of 3% but Pagwah and Dewali are two celebrations that every school child is famailar with and Minister Henry should have corrected as she read the statement. This further highlights her incompetence.

  • GuyanaJustice

    If the event was live streamed on Facebook then the PRO can’t be at fault. Anyone could have saved or downloaded the video before the gravity of the mistake was noticed.
    Who will penalize the minister for not being prepared and for not reading the speech in advance?

  • The Coalition destruction would start from within. Crabs in de barrels mentality.

  • GuyanaJustice

    And how did a known PPP activist Ninavelle become Deputy Permanent Secretary?
    Not because he is PPP, but PS and deputy PS are non-political positions and are normally held by career and seasoned public servants.

  • Madman

    And yet not an apology from the Minister? She should have been the one sent packing.

  • Queen

    Why are the staff being blamed? The Minister responsible for culture doesn’t know the difference between Phagwah and Diwali or she would have torn up that speech and spoke from her head.

  • Michael Grey

    did I read ‘suspend with pay’… that mek any sense???

    • rs dasai

      It makes much sense. Muck up the ‘Hindu’ Religion and Culture and get paid for no work. Is Islam next?

  • Col123

    I honestly don’t see why this unfortunate incident escalated to the extent of serious punishment!…An apology may have been warranted… or what the heck… a drug test!… It seems that every event becomes a big deal.. a simple issue like the red house became a flare up… who is steering this ship?

    • Gtloyal

      Who wants everything government to look bad? If the government is bad, they still have the opposition on the back foot, reacting … not being able to make one decent contribution to anything.
      One wonders if the opposition set waiting for a fart to run to the press and say “Lo, we just had a harmonious fart ….”
      We just have too darn many holidays.

      • Col123

        The buck should stop where it must… at the top… pulling the opposition into this mess is giving them credit for anything!…they have their own belly wuk to manage…the government is doing well with the dead economy..

  • Lancelot Brassington

    The minister should not throw subordinates under the bus for an error of which she was a part. She is seeking to absolve herself by making them the sacrificial lambs.This is reprehensible behaviour. Ms Henry should be summoned by functional superiors and ‘persuaded’ to rescind this decision so that all concerned could move on, exercise greater caution and put proper systems in place to prevent recurrences. Besides, by lynching people she would be shooting herself in the leg because her subordinates would be silently resentful and would not have her back in the future..

  • rudeo

    she is so dumb that her speech had to be written by subordinates weeks in advance?….and on top of that being funded by my taxes to study overseas?….study what?…..can she count?…read?….spell?…..comprehend?….my my…soldier boy really making a mess of his presidency…with no help from the opposition….he has enough of his own surroundees to do that well

  • Kassem_B

    Technical Officer, Deputy Permanent Secretary suspended over Culture Minister’s Phagwah speech error’
    Are these officers on any special paid courses as well to pay this prize?

  • Pat Robinson Commissiong

    It’s worse than a joke, if what I read in one of the daily newspapers is correct. It was apparently, word for word, given the quotes cited, the same speech she read at last year’s Diwali celebrations.
    Now, even if her staff presented her with the same speech ( which I doubt, but that could be just me), didn’t she read it before going on stage to speak? And if it really was the same speech, didn’t it click in her brain that she had read the same words before? Which just might have rung a bell that”Diwali” was the wrong word on this occasion. Ah well, perhaps I’m prejudiced by the muck up at the anniversary celebrations and the plastic plates and cutlery at the state dinner. Perhaps she needs another scholarship, although in what I do not know. Culture, perhaps?

  • SundariSumukhi

    This grown ass woman, lives in Guyana and at her age, and with her responsibilities is CLUELESS to National Holidays? She needs a speech WRITTEN to deliver a message on a public national holiday? Is this is joke?

  • rs dasai

    Not a Pandit was consulted? Islam, watch out.