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Commentary: President Granger does not have the political authority to fire Ramjattan or any AFC minister
Published on August 9, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version


By Dennis Adonis

Just over a week ago, I was stuck in the middle of a ‘rum-shop’ argument that practically yielded no winning results on either side of the table.

In reality, I personally have no political allegiance to any party and, generally, do not vote. Hence I would only side with policies, and not necessarily a politician, whenever a political discussion comes my way.

As such, I feel that I can make a fairer judgment of a political situation than a person who is already aligned to a political party.

Dennis Adonis is an international writer at the Huffington Post, LA Post Examiner, and the Jewish Journal, among others; and has previously served as a contributing writer He is the editor-in-chief at the Guyana Guardian, and brings a wealth of content and editorial knowledge in international politics, social reporting, judicial assessment, and technology
So maybe that is why the argument became so passionate that neither side got anywhere.

Now, a group of ardent Granger supporters was adamant that the president can fire Minister Ramjattan over the ongoing prison fiasco.

On the other hand, myself and a visiting political analyst from the United Kingdom, along with a few others were trying to get them to understand that the president cannot fire the minister without serious political implications.

But I forgot that, when it comes to discussing politics in Guyana, we as Guyanese have varying strains of political incompetencies that would make it almost impossible for most of us to fairly examine the evident points of a political discussion.

However, for the sake of this article, I will only highlight two of those flaws.

For me, it is safe to say that two of the most obvious political challenges that the average Guyanese has is (1) the inability to effectively decipher the complexities of a political union, and (2) the DNA-implanted inability to fairly analyze a political situation without being drowned-out by our sympathy towards a favoured politician or political party.

Hence, Guyanese are always willing to avoid thinking too deeply into a political development, or are rather afraid to question the reality of a negative political circumstance that may have to do with the very people or party that they strongly support.

That being the case, anyone who is an ardent supporter of their government would not want to question the competency of any political office holder especially if their allegiance to that person or their party is fortified.

In the same way, Guyanese politicians are always reluctant to upbraid or discipline any person that is supportive of them or their cause, regardless of whatever that person may have done, or whatever scale of incompetence that person may have displayed.

Therefore, if we are to use that as a yardstick, anyone would understand the primary reason why President David Granger would not want to upbraid the minister of public security for his poor oversight of our penal system, or even cause the minister to step down for a repeated act of incompetence (which surrounds his presiding over one of the most deadly prison fires in the world, and the largest prison break in the English-speaking Caribbean).

As a matter of fact, the minister himself had made it clear that he did not burn down the prison; hence he cannot be held responsible for any leadership incompetence or poor policy directives that may have led up to it (sic).

In the same way, one would agree that when the police had allegedly burned Mr Ramjattan’s client’s genitals during an investigation several years ago, Mr Ramjattan would have been wrong to call on the then commissioner of police and then minister of home affairs, Mr Clement Rohee, to resign.

After all, Mr Rohee or the then commissioner did not burn anyone’s genitals. But in spite of this, Mr Ramjattan had repeatedly called for their resignation back then citing the fact that they are the responsible office holders.

Fast forward to today, and assuming that you get the point; one can better understand the contradictory line within the minister’s position on the Camp Street prison fire. He did not burn it, so he cannot be held responsible for it.

Taking Mr Ramjattan’s position into account, I cannot think of another country in the world where a minister would happily continue to defend himself via a portfolio which saw his nation being negatively lined up for the Guinness Book of World Records.... twice. Lord have mercy!

Now, if any intelligent person is to analyze the minister’s position, they would certainly agree that it was ridiculous of him to shy away from responsibility when he is tasked by this nation to ensure that appropriate policy directives are made and honoured so that the penal system can function without the disaster that has now befallen it.

To the more intelligent Guyanese, the minister’s response is beyond comical.

But what was even more comical, was the opposition PPP’s call upon the president to fire Minister Ramjattan or cause him to resign; knowing full well that their request was a near impossibility.

(They should have known this based upon their past political behavioural conduct in similar situations.)

Even if the minister had taken a bottle of gasoline and explosives in front of a thousand Guyanese; in bright daylight, and set the prison alight, President Granger would not be able to discipline or fire him.

I repeat, President Granger would not be able to discipline or fire him.

Of course, you might be asking yourself why. But the answer is quite simple.

If we can go back to the Herdmanston Accord that was signed between the APNU and the AFC, one would be reminded that while there will be unity in governance, the AFC shall remain a separate party with specific control over four ministries within the government, and all of the ministers that preside over them. (If you ask me, this is like having the power to supervise a small cabinet within a larger cabinet of ministers.)

Moreover, the appointment or removal of any minister to/from those four ministries is not politically possible without the approval of the leadership of the AFC, which basically entails Minister Ramjattan and Trotman, among others.

In other words, the president must receive an approval from Mr Ramjattan to fire any AFC minister that is a member of the cabinet, including Mr Ramjattan himself.

And in such a case, Guyanese political culture would dictate that Minister Ramjattan would not approve the firing of himself.

That being the case, President Granger would not have the political authority to remove Minister Ramjattan or any AFC minister if that party’s leadership does not support it.

And while he may have the constitutional authority to do so, the sharpened blades of the Hermanston Accord will certainly trigger a legal crisis and political discontent among each other’s supporters, in as much that it will eventually bring the government down.

As such, the president’s hands are tied to a deal that has technically made him toothless when it comes to oversight and control over the actions of certain ministers of the government.

Therefore, I will repeat that President Granger does not have the political authority to fire Minister Ramjattan or any other minister who is a member of the AFC.

And whether we would want to accept it or not, that is the reality of our current political landscape, and one of the many challenges of a unity government.

(If you doubt me, go and ask the former prime minister of Trinidad Tobago, Ms Kamla Persad-Bissesar about Granger’s possible political dilemma over non-party ministers in the unity government, and she can ‘shine’ you.)

So, if you are one of the persons that are making a noisy call on the president to cause the minister to resign, I will sincerely urge you to save your energy, and use it to plant some vegetables for the holidays.

Even among the worst of floods, you can be more certain about getting a bountiful harvest from some flooded Boulanger plants, than to fruitlessly ask for a resignation that can never occur.
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