Former GECOM Chair, Dr Steve Surujbally
August 27,2017 Source
–honest and dedicated despite challenges
FORMER Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Dr Steve Surujbally is advising his successor to uphold the tenets of the very important office.
Surujbally, who served as GECOM Chairman for some fifteen-and-a-half years, said the new GECOM chair must be honest, dedicated and non-partisan at all times despite the plethora of challenges that may arise.
In reflecting on his tenure as GECOM chair, Dr Surujbally examined the achievements under his stewardship, but noted that history will be the final arbiter on whether anything meaningful and of permanent substance has been achieved.
“Our accomplishments, especially in the technical and administrative areas, not only speak for themselves, but are an example and inspiration for Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) in other developing democracies to follow,” Dr Surujbally said. “In fact, we have arguably reached the stage where an application can be made for ISO certification,” he added in a document seen by the Guyana Chronicle.
He also reflected on whether his pledge to be honest, dedicated, impartial and fair has been accomplished. “I have no doubt in my mind that I was always honest, constantly and seriously pursuing credibility for myself and the GECOM family.”
In the case of dedication, the former head of GECOM said he spent long hours researching and analyzing imbroglios and finding acceptable solutions, while neglecting his family at what can be considered crucial moments.
He maintained a non-partisan stance and said, “Of course, this self-perception might not be accepted by all, for whatever unsubstantiated and invented reasons or just following someone else’s maliciously concocted script.”
Surjubally reminded that the afore-mentioned features had to be executed in an environment to which he was forced to recognise and internalise the “the pervasive reality that any incorrect decision, any mistake could have severe even irreversible repercussions.”
“If there is any legacy, it would be simply found in the truism that in the pre, peri, post and inter-electoral periods associated with four elections, including the first Local Government Elections in 22 years, there was no massive turbulence which seemed compulsory at elections in Guyana.”
He noted however that though there was “no blood flowing in the street,” no image-destroying atrocities and only few known cases of destructive vandalism during his tenure, there were scattered and infrequent periods of boisterousness and furore which were contained quickly.
Dr Surujbally lauded the political parties for adhering to the tenets enshrined in the GECOM- sponsored and effected Political Party Code of Conduct, which was signed by all mainstream competing stakeholders.
Noting that the GECOM’s achievements over the past fifteen and a half years have been documented annually, Dr Surujbally said the GECOM chairman and his or her team “can only use the truth as their shield.”
“The chairperson may be blunt with the truth or cosmeticize it, but he or she must never allow utterances to morph into mellifluous falsehoods and ‘alternative facts’…staying on the proverbial “straight and narrow” is made considerably more difficult when there exists an atmosphere of hostility, dislike, discontent and unmitigated and brazenly overt malevolence.”
But notwithstanding that, Surujbally said the new GECOM chairman “must steer the ship of GECOM, during any storm, of which there will be many, to peaceful and acceptable ports using the mechanisms of negotiation, consensus and compromise, while maintaining fixity of purpose.”
He said, too, that when logical suasion cannot be achieved, the chairperson must have no fear exercising his or her casting vote which is permissible by law, as there will always be politicians, private sector leaders, the media and other stakeholders with “perverse and prevaricatory predeterminations.”
The former GECOM chairman said too that attempts will be made to besmirch GECOM’s image through improper and corrupting assumptions and noted the commission’s new chairman must be prepared for such occurrences.
“Despite confronting and overcoming the difficulties associated with incessant fractiousness, it was indeed an honour to serve, for more than a decade and a half, as Chairman of GECOM. I thank commissioners past and present for sharing their wisdom and knowledge, and for offering me options and guidance within the decision-making process…I wish my successor all the very best, even as I feel compelled to remind him or her that the Chairmanship of GECOM is not only an honour and privilege, but more a responsibility and a commitment to our motherland,” said Dr Surujbally.
A new GECOM chairman is yet to be appointed by President David Granger following consultations with Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo. On Friday, Jagdeo submitted a third list to the President after the first two he submitted were rejected.