Transparency in recruitment and appointments To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
December 28, 2001

In Stabroek News of December 18, 2001 I would like to refer to the editorial check the facts first.

The editorial deals with the questions raised about the ethnic composition of staff employed by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and refers to the Report of the Audit and System Review of the 2001 elections.

Focus is placed on the human resources and training dealt with in chapter Seven.

According to the editorial although some features of the recruitment procedures were not in its opinion ideal and suggested improvements, the report had some very interesting things to say, dealing with applications for jobs.

It quoted 'the allegations associated with the problems relating to applications and invitations are limited to specific concern and did not contain, despite frequent questions to the political parties concerned, either proof of misconduct or direct linkages to subsequent misconduct by polling staff. No political party was able to show any reason why the administrative blunders regarding application handling and invitation delivery were not equal application, and therefore could have caused prejudice to a particular party.'

While this and other reports are extremely valuable and must be read and taken into account given our racial and political history, they also have to be taken into account as sensitivity and perceptions are extremely important.

Indeed, the editorial itself states 'perceptions are powerful forces and the general problems related to recruitment and selection at various stages of the process provided fertile ground for allegations and suspicions in this regard.'

However the editorial seems to be forcing us to conclude whether or not ethnicity is a criterion for selection.

I donít think that this is where we want to go, but instead have transparency in the entire process of applications, selections and training. We should equally note the following quotations from the report of the Guyana Long Term Observers Group and the European Union Elections Observer Mission on the Guyana Elections of March 19, 2001.

1. 'Equally many of the applicants for the polling station staff, (some 8,400 had sent in written applications) had received neither letter of acknowledgement nor notice of training days,' (Page 14,15)

2. 'It is clear that the process of recruitment and appointment left a lot to be desired. There was little transparency and too much interference from stakeholders. Gecom should look to develop clearer and more effective methods of recruitment and appointment and should include a commitment to equal opportunities to avoid any future allegations of bias' (page 18).

I donít think ethnicity must become a criterion but we want transparency in recruitment and appointments.