Rule by intimidation

A former senior Minister in the defeated National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, Senator Franka Bernadine is fearful that an atmosphere of tension and fear is brewing within the Public Service.

Sen. Bernadine who was speaking on the weekly radio Programme that is sponsored by Congress, “NDC Heartbeat” claimed that a number of Public Servants have faced victimisation from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell since he assumed office following the February 19 general elections.

She pointed to a continuous shifting around of established and appointed Public Officers since the elections.

In his maiden speech immediately after being sworn in as Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell said there will be no witch-hunt of civil servants, and that people who are working on contract would be allowed to complete the contract.

Sen. Bernadine shared a letter that was sent to her from someone on the sister isle of Carriacou who allegedly faced political victimisation.

The letter spoke of what it termed as being an unfortunate development at the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs.

The writer said that on Wednesday, May 15, 17 workers who are all young people were issued with dismissal letters effective June 2013.

The dismissed workers who are under the age of 35 years were not under the Special Vote of the Prime Minister’s Ministry, and many of them are in essential areas that need personnel.

They include public rest rooms, Paradise Beach, Windward Fish Centre, Public Works Department, Agricultural Workers, and the Marine Protected Area in Carriacou.

The writer further stated that in a number of cases the contract of the workers does not end until later in the year.

“This is the witch hunt that we were guaranteed would not take place,” Bernadine told the host of the programme.

Some critics of the Mitchell government have accused the NNP of engaging in “ethnics cleansing” of NDC supporters from the service and replacing them with their own supporters.

The former Government Minister spoke of Cabinet Secretary, Gemma Bain-Thomas left sitting at home while a Permanent Secretary is currently performing the job.

“We have two Commissioners (of Police), we have two Cabinet Secretaries, we have the Head of the Department of Immigration who lead a programme of reform at that Department resulting in the Department being recognised as one of the best-run Departments internationally was removed from the Department and given a desk at the Fire Station,” she said.

There are unconfirmed reports that Bain-Thomas has been given a new assignment as “Cabinet Secretary” with special responsibilities for Public Sector reform.

Her post is now being filled by Nadica Mc Intyre, a former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and one who is considered to be a loyalist to Dr. Mitchell.

Sen. Bernadine is advising that the NNP rule by intimidation is something that the populace must guard against.

She said during the reign of the NDC Government, Public Servants had the opportunity to function in a professional manner.

She said the Tillman Thomas-led Congress administration gave public sector employees an opportunity to empower themselves to rise to the level of being professional in their work and produce regardless of who is in power.

The former Government Minister who is now one of three Opposition Senators said their role is “to keep a close eye on what is happening.”

She also took a swipe at the perceived failure of the NNP Government to deliver on the many promises that were made to the electorate within their first one hundred days in office.

Sen. Bernadine indicated that before the February 19 General Elections, the NNP was saying that it will deliver, but now that they occupy the seat of government the tune is changing.

“Be patient, it will take time, we have to share the burden, we are living beyond our means, it requires sacrifice on everybody’s part, the economy is still suffering from the ravages of Hurricanes Ivan and Emil, Grenada continues to be very negatively affected by the global economic crisis,” are some of the new phrases she said being advanced by the Mitchell government.


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