NO APOLOGY: Patterson on hiring practices at GECOM

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The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice James Patterson says he has no apologies to make regarding the ethnic makeup of GECOM staff, arguing that competence is the prime consideration in its hiring practice.

At a press conference Friday, the Chairman suggested he would not seek “numerical purity” in the ethnic composition of the staff if persons are not fit for the job.

He denied that GECOM was hiring Afro-Guyanese over Indo-Guyanese.

“That is patently not so,” he told reporters at GECOM’s Kingston Georgetown headquarters.

“We are making deliberate efforts to get the best people the job.

“Sometimes that collides with ethnic quantities,” he stated.

“For example, like in the interior, you don’t expect to find the same racial mix as there is on the coast,” he added.

He further stated: “Our accent (emphasis) is on quality, our accent is on getting the best people to do the job.

“Personally, I would make no apologies for that.”

According to Patterson, in making the choice on who to hire, “quality trumps race.”

“I see nothing wrong with that I wouldn’t quarrel with anybody who disagrees; I speak for myself.”

In July, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) said it was moving to employ a group of former law enforcement officers to aid in the investigation into claims of unfair hiring practices at the Commission.

Opposition PPP Commissioners have alleged that there is an ethnic imbalance in the staff composition at GECOM in favour of Afro-Guyanese.

The Commissioners have already lodged an official complaint with the ERC about their concerns of an unfair hiring practice at the Elections Commission.

The Commissioners – Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shaddick and Robeson Benn – are contending that the top positions at GECOM are mainly held by Afro-Guyanese.

But the GECOM Chair along with the Government-nominated Commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman – have since dismissed those claims, insisting that there is no evidence to support the allegation.

The ERC is intended, inter alia, to promote good relations, harmony, peace, tolerance and understanding between our peoples; provide equal opportunity between persons of different ethnic groups, and proscribe ethnic discrimination.

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