Political analyst Dr Winford James says the nation needs to do a dispassionate analysis of the position of public appointees who may be blood relatives of MPs. He was commenting on Opposition complaints that Fern Narcis-Scope, new chief elections officer of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) was the first cousin of Minister of Public Administration Maxie Cuffie.
“We can’t blow hot and cold on this,” James said. He said either there is a policy that a person with a relative in political office cannot serve in certain positions, or not.
James said the other side of the coin was that a person should be regarded as employable and not wantonly be denied the chance to access a certain position. “Further, you can have collusion occurring between friends who have no blood ties.” James also wondered whether TT has a code of ethics that bans the employment of relatives of MPs.
Saying the final decision on naming a chief elections officers lies with the President, with the Prime Minister’s role limited simply to voicing an objection to the nominee, he asked whether critics would go so far as to allege collusion between the two office-holders over this appointee.
James was asked if the Constitution was justified in allowing the Opposition input into the selection of the EBC board but not of its chief elections officer, given that the former has a superior oversight role over the latter who is just a managerial functionary of the former.
He said the chief elections officer is a very powerful position which needs “a certain independence of mind.” He said the chief elections officer’s role is prescribed by the Constitution and cannot be changed by the EBC board. The EBC has since stated that Narcis-Scope is not the first cousin of Minister Cuffie.