As a concerned public officer, I continue to follow the developments between public officers and the Government and to examine the laws which inform the debates.
The fundamental of good governance is that all transactions with and within Government must be guided by laws, rules and regulation. This allows for transparency, consistency and certainty of Government operations. If the State is not operating on these principles, we are slowly descending into a state of anarchy.
The current negotiations for pension and gratuity between the Government’s Pension Engagement Committee and the Public Sector Workers Unions must be anchored in the laws of the land. The basis for the negotiations must be clear to the Government, the unions and the citizenry.
As a nation, we are governed by the 1974 Constitution. This supreme law of the land cannot be negotiated or compromised. The two constitution review processes should have taught us, at least, that the Constitution is supreme and will always prevail.
In addition, whether is by contractual appointment or otherwise, due process needs to be followed in disciplining public officers and by extension applying deductions from their salary. Have we created a lawless State? If the Government is not upholding the Constitution and laws of the land, it has no authority to establish systems to bring the population in line with the laws.
There is also the outstanding issue of the payments due to the former Secretary to Cabinet who was unconstitutionally removed from office and the public service. The Government keeps on flirting with a constitutional matter which was firmly decided by the Court of Appeal.
It is my understanding that in early October of 2018, an Agreement was signed between the Government and the former senior public officer covering compensation due to her for the unconstitutional actions of the Government perpetrated on its behalf by the Governor General and the Public Service Commission.
I am also aware that the Public Service Commission in November of 2018 issued a letter to the former government worker correcting the ills of previously issued letters and stating that the Accountant General had been provided with the authority for the payment of special damages. Issues of general damages I understand are awaiting a verdict of the court.
I recently learnt that after waiting for months without any compensation payments that the former senior public officer is yet to receive her constitutional entitlements. It would appear that administrative constraints, which did not impede the stopping of her monthly salaries, are now hindering the Government from adhering to the decision of the Court. Is it the objective of the powers-at-be to retire the senior public officer into poverty?
Compensation and severance pay are generally paid within one week of the person being off the job and retirees expect to receive their benefit package by the following month of their retirement. No one must beg for their constitutional entitlement or be reduced to a beggar or pauper.
The agreement to compensate the former senior public officer being duly signed by the Attorney General on the behalf of the Government and instructions given to the Accountant General Office to make payments, why to date no payments are forthcoming? Is it that the public service is following the Executive arm of Government and breaching the laws of the land?
The blatant disregard for the legal system should not continue. This is therefore a plea to the Government to honour the Constitution and the laws of the land for the good of the citizens.