Last Updated on Thursday, 8 September 2016, 22:59 by Denis Chabrol
President David Granger on Thursday criticized the now aborted removal of a television news anchor at Guyana’s National Communications Network (NCN) from reading the news because she is pregnant and he has described as inhumane the one month suspension of a Sport Editor without pay.
“We didn’t think it would have come to do this because as I am concerned NCN was quite out of place , out of order to have the person removed from the job that she was doing,” he said on his weekly programme, Public Interest, in connection with the removal of Natasha Smith. She has since received an apology from Human Resources Manager, Tishika Da Costa and told that she could return to the TV set.
The President was also harshly critical of NCN’s Chief Executive Officer, Lennox Cornette and other persons who had decided that Smith should have been removed from anchoring the 6 O’clock evening newscast. “it is not a power-play. We are running an administration for the benefit of all the Guyanese people and it must not become a platform for one person to exercise absolute power,” the Guyanese leader said.
Granger declined to say whether “something is going to happen” to Cornette, but he hoped that the persons responsible for Smith’s removal and the suspension of Sport Editor, Jocelle Archibald-Hawk, would be more sympathetic. “I can’t say that something is going to happen to him but I hope he or the persons responsible for those two incidents would operate in a more prudent manner, a more compassionate manner,” he added.
The President was also upset that Archibald-Hawke was sent home for one month without pay because she made disparaging remarks seemingly about her colleague because he had asked the Head of State and Government about whether he knew about the Pokemon Go game. “It is inhumane to deprive an employee of her salary without due process. She hasn’t committed a crime. It is not as though as she is a murderer and i think it was inhumane to take away her salary or to suspend her from her job,” said Granger.
Following the dismissal and subsequent reinstatement of four pregnant City Constabulary members as a result of an outcry, government had extended the policy of the Police and Defence Forces to the City Police.
Now, the President said since the incident involving Smith, government has decided to arrive at a maternity policy for all government entities. “We will make a recommendation that there is a generalized government policy.
“In general I would say it’s a function that we recognise and we should reward pregnancy and there should be no obstruction to women being allowed to perform her duties because they are pregnant,” the President said.
Smith was allowed to resume anchoring the news following meetings between executive members of the Guyana Press Association and the NCN’s Chief Executive Officer and members of his management team.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who is responsible for the State Media, has since asked Cornette to apologise to Smith. Cornette has maintained that Smith was not removed because of her pregnancy.