by GHK Lall
The Chairman of GECOM should be lauded for taking the bold step of quickly releasing those staff numbers and identifying the ethnic composition of the entity. These same numbers tell a clear and frank story: the claim of the opposition is grossly exaggerated and may be the product of hasty honest error; it could be argued also that it is calculatedly false. Now that the numbers are public, this ought to be the end of what can only be described as yet another irresponsible perilous incitation in the public domain. Whereas it should fade from consciousness, seeds have been planted; lingering doubt will remain. Perhaps that was the intention all along.
Forty-six percent (Afro-Guyanese) is certainly a far cry from the pulsating stridency of ninety plus percent domination. And almost one in four (23%) of those allegedly marginalized and denied is very distant from the paltriness of what was left in the wake of that public denunciation from the opposition commissioner which is a maximum five percent, or one for every twenty of the other. Having said all of this, there is the reasonable fear that those who should be listening will not be, could care less. Objectives in mind have been achieved: unsettle, infuriate, undermine, and intimidate. The protestations-vehement and gleeful- are sure to come rapidly and without pause: it is not enough. It is not a reflection of demographics. It is doctored. It is of hewers of wood (nonexecutive and clerical). It is not of meritocracy; can’t be. It does not matter that history, pursuit, and robust presence in the public service point favorably to one group. A can of worms has been opened for both tactical and strategic reasons; worms elude and crawl around. Like a good lie, they are hard to extinguish completely. Facts and truths prevail eventually, but by then it is too late. No one is listening; minds are set immovably. This is Guyana after all, where the new and fresh is what has always been the embraceable beloved old.
My position is simple and clear, as it is unchanging: the best person for the job; the best qualified; the best fit; the best combination of tangibles and intangibles. Intangibles are not so mysterious (or conspiratorial) as they may appear to the uninitiated. To those familiar with such things and heavy responsibilities, they cover a lot of terrain looked for in suitable candidates. They are those elements that go beyond paper including: confidence, initiative, versatility, sense of self, vision and, of course, integrity. Can this person get the job done? Will this person work well with others? Does this candidate have what it takes to lift others up? It is part science and part art form; instinctual, cerebral, practical, even spiritual. Rare candidates take the breath away and blow away; a few make a connection; most cluster at the center. Meritocratic dedication and selection is a test of the principles of those making the final decision. It is not whimsical; and definitely furnishes evidence of seriousness and commitment to organizational reputation and uplift.
Others may hesitate in justified apprehension; I have nothing to gain or lose, save for what should be the ideal embraced. GECOM’s numbers relative to the ethnic composition of its staff are fair to solid and satisfactory. They could be numerically enhanced in any ethnic direction. Such improvement must adhere closely to the best fit model spoken of earlier. GECOM is too sensitive, too crucial, and too scrutinized for matters to depart from acceptable (impeccable, preferably) standards of screening and recruiting and thus degrade into the highly controversial. Everything it does hinges on such purity of purpose and corresponding actions.
Last, some damage has been done; deliberate harm inflicted upon a nation which psyche is frail to begin with and susceptible to any degree of manipulation. The ethnic trumpet blared will not fade; its peals will resonate and reside in many willing hearts, regardless of any numbers presented. For whatever it is worth, public apology should be forthcoming from either the opposition at large, or its challenging commissioner(s) specifically. In view of what is involved, an apology would be the decent and honorable thing to do.It would be constructive, too.