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

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 March 2017, 19:56 by Denis Chabrol

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!!!”