GUYANA HISTORY NOTEBOOK
Compiled by Odeen Ishmael

 

(Thunder, 30 July 1960)

TOP CIVIL SERVANTS MEDDLING IN POLITICS

In a statement issued to the press the General Secretary of People's Progressive Party asks
the important question whether neutrality of the Civil Service can be maintained it the head of department takes sides politically and poses two alternative positions for BG. However, while operating under the British system "we will not tolerate civil servants meddling in politics.?
The full statement follows:

The presence of Mr. James Ramphal, Commissioner of Labour, at the "Third Force" meetings raises some very serious questions.
Can the neutrality of the Civil Service exist if the head of a Department takes sides politically? In this case, the Commissioner of Labour, who is the Head of a Department within the portfolio of an elected minister, has joined forces with a political group which has one aim, the destruction of the Majority Party in the Government.
No one will dispute the fact that the ?Third Force? was established with one aim ? to unite the political forces to defeat the People's Progressive Party. The known enemies of the PPP are participating in this group. They include in the main, persons who have fought the Party in previous elections and were defeated, such as Messrs. Peter D'Aguiar, R. Ishmael, S. Gangadeen, and others who were expelled from the PPP ? Messrs. Beharry, Bowman, Kayum, and the unclassified Dr. Hanoman who has been disgruntled with the PPP since the suspension of the Constitution in 1953.
All these named have very personal reasons for opposing the PPP, aside from their oft expressed aim of saving the country from the disaster of the PPP. It is clear that they all want to win seats in the next elections, although, if asked, they will probably deny that. Now, where in this line up of hate motivated persons does Mr. Ramphal, an advisor to the Government fit? Surely his presence in this group is suspect.
One must then inevitably reach the next question, and this is, how safe to an elected government is an official who has an avowed aim at destroying the very government he serves.
Can a Minister accept advice from an official who joins forces to destroy the Party the Minister belongs to? Can a Minister feel safe that instructions issued are being followed faithfully? Would it not be logical for a Minister to feel distrust for an official, particularly one who heads such an important department and be unable to work with such an official who has linked with a sinister plan to destroy the political party which is democratically elected and legitimately entitled to form the Government?
In British Guiana, the British Parliamentary pattern has been followed. This pattern embraces the concept of the neutrality of the Civil Service which means that the Civil Service works with the and implements the policy decisions of the political government. Whenever that political government changes at elections the same Civil Service, without emotion, without taking sides, implements the policy decisions of that new political government.
Thus, in practice when the Labour Party won in England, the Civil Service worked in the

great task of implementing the National Health Service and the nationalisation of the railways. When the Labour Party lost in the next elections and the Conservative Party won, the same Civil Service loyally carried out the wishes of the new government whose policy was different.
However, the American pattern is somewhat different. When the Republican Party, for example, wins and takes office, thousands of heads roll and Republican Party supporters move into office in Washington. When the Democratic Party wins, the same re-shuffle takes place, heads roll again. This is on the theory that to get through their policy, the party in power must have the officials appointed by them in whom they have absolute confidence.
In British Guiana, we will have to have one or the other ? either the absolute neutrality of the service or the right of the Party in government to pick its own team of top officers. While operating under the British ?career" Civil Service system, we will not tolerate top civil servants meddling in politics.

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