Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday frowned on People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) General Secretary, Volda Lawrence’s remarks that there should be no fear in giving contracts and jobs to her party members.
Speaking at a news conference, he suggested there might be scope for Lawrence to be prosecuted on the grounds of discrimination on the basis of nepotism and party political affiliation.
“This is not the kind of thing you say in a country like ours. In fact, this is illegal. Volda Lawrence could be charged for this because our labour law said you cannot discriminate against people on the basis of their gender, their sexual orientation, their race, their religion…” he said.
The Prevention of Discrimination Act prohibits the elimination of discrimination in employment.
Lawrence has since issued a statement about the importance of facilitating youths in creating jobs. However, she has not addressed the controversial statement in which she told party faithful at an internal meeting last Sunday they should not be afraid to employ party supporters or grant them contracts. Speaking for herself, she has said that her friends are PNC and so only that organisation’s supporters would get jobs.
The PPP General Secretary also argued that even PNCR members who are not Lawrence’s friends also risked not getting jobs.
“You got to be her friend first and you have to have the second qualification of PNC so if you are not PNC and not her friend, you’re in trouble,” Jagdeo said.
The PPP, while in office from 1992 to 2015, had been often accused of discriminating against Afro-Guyanese in employment and other opportunities.
The offspring of a number of then PPP Cabinet members had been employed by the government in high-paying jobs locally and internationally. On occasion when those had been raised by the then opposition PNCR and Alliance For Change, the then administration had contended that brilliant, young Guyanese had been unfairly targeted.