Political appointments and victimization

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May 21, 2012

After general elections in The Bahamas there is always a back and forth over the issue of victimization. Some who were employed by the old regime accuse the new administration of firing them just because they politically supported their former bosses.
In The Bahamas there is not a clear enough distinction between the political appointees of an administration versus those who are employed by state agencies to do bureaucratic work, or to consult, on behalf of the state.
Political appointees are people hired by politicians to work for the state, but their duty is primarily to advance the interests of the politician or party who hired them while that person or group is in public office.
For political appointees, when the people who hired you lose office you should do the honorable thing and resign unprovoked by the new administration.
Last week former Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman and candidate Johnley Ferguson complained about how he was treated by the new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration. He was a consultant in the ministry now led by Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government Alfred Gray. The ministry terminated Ferguson after the PLP won the election.
"Johnley is opposed to this government and its policies, so obviously I didn't think he should be surprised," Gray said when asked about Ferguson's complaint.
As a frontline politician, Ferguson should not think he should continue on in the post under the PLP. Similarly, if Gray was a consultant and the FNM won the general election he should know that he should resign.
It is disingenuous for political appointees to cry foul when they are removed because they will not resign. It may be useful for there to be a formal acknowledgement of these political posts so there is no dispute as to what should be done when regimes change.
For permanent and pensionable public servants, the issue is quite different. Once these individuals do their jobs politicians should not molest them. However, the issue of victimization becomes complicated regarding public servants who politicize themselves. These people openly let it be known that they support a side and advocate for this side while on the job. When a new administration comes into office it will obviously be mistrustful of these individuals - especially if they hold sensitive offices.
Some of these partisan public officials are consequently transferred or they are stripped of their portfolios and left with nothing to do, as the new administration does not trust them.

This is the consequence of self-politicization. If the government acted to strip responsibility from a public servant or to demote a public servant because of presumed political affiliation that would be victimization.

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 05/21/2012    Category : Nassau Guardian Stories

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