GECOM, under the current secretariat, can never be allowed to run another election
One year ago, on Friday, January 10th, 2020, GECOM had its 2020 General and Regional Elections Nomination Day.
It was on this day, around 10.00am, that political parties and the nation as a whole received some ink on the upcoming skull from senior GECOM staff.
In preparation for this day and after being informed that political parties would be admitted to the Umana Yana site, where GECOM would receive candidate lists of the competing parties, on a first-come, first-served basis, two of the newer / less camped parties out in front of the Umana Yana from Wednesday night, three days before the real event.
The New Movement (TNM) first arrived around 6:00 pm, followed by the United Republican Party (URP) sometime between 7: 00-8: 00pm. New United Guyana (ANUG) joined the camp line Thursday morning at approximately 6:30 am. Eventually, the People / Civic Progressive Party (PPP / C) and Change Guyana (CG) joined the camp out later this Thursday.
Note: the ruling National Unity Partnership / Alliance for Change (APNU / AFC) Alliance did not join the camp or line of political parties waiting patiently to register with GECOM.
On the morning of Friday, January 10th- Nominations Day – members of the Guyana Police Force arrived and erected barricades in front of the Umana Yana. They then told all the representatives of the political parties, who kept their place in the line, to move behind the barricades to avoid congestion at the entrance of the Umana Yana. The party representatives did all as was said, with lots of jokes and good humor.
Shortly after, Keith Lowenfield, CEO of GECOM, and his party of staff arrived and spoke to us. He explained the procedure, for registering for the Nominations Day event, was for delegates to go to the Umana Yana guard hut and give information to the security guard who would put it in a book. This would be used to determine the order in which the political parties would enter the Umana Yana compound to register and submit their Lists of Candidates along with the required signatures.
This order was important because if someone signed up for two political parties, the first registered party would be allowed to retain the signature, and the other party would have to find a new signature .
Finding a new signature may have meant that the political party had to go back to the area to find another person to sign on its sheet.
Party representatives hurried across the road and I entered the guard house first. The guard opened the book to receive the information and low and behold, the name of the APNU / AFC representative, Carol Joseph, was already written in the first line and indicates that it arrived on Tuesday at 18:30 hours.
When I objected to this, the Guard just shrugged and gave a look that said “what can I do? I just follow instructions. Don’t quarrel with me. ”
As I was loudly opposed to the guard and the neighboring police officers, along with other party representatives, Mr Lowenfield entered the gate and I called on him for an explanation as to how the APNU / AFC representative could be listed first when they had not arrived until that morning.
Mr Lowenfield replied stating that there was nothing he could do about it and he continued to walk away.
Nominations Day is an event organized and managed by GECOM and Mr. Lowenfield was the CEO of GECOM. So the ultimate authority was with him. He had, therefore, deliberately allowed the name of the APNU / AFC representative to be written in the book before the other party representatives.
At the time, this event may have seemed small but in retrospect, that was the moment when we should have known and prepared for all the upcoming GECOM and APNU / AFC skulls trampling on. Guyana.
I call on the Chairman of GECOM to investigate this and other incidents of misconduct committed by the GECOM Secretariat and its senior staff. Any confirmed misconduct incidents should be dealt with robustly, including dismissal where necessary.
GECOM is no longer a trusted organization and its reputation is well documented. The secretariat of people who are unworthy need to be cleaned. An internal investigation is urgently needed and evidence found can and should be used to dismiss or punish misleading personnel, including the CEO, the DCEO and other senior staff.
I take this opportunity to say that Guyana and GECOM should never be allowed to hold another election, of any kind, under the current management of the Secretariat.