Senator Caswell Franklyn Speaks – Oh No Mr. Alleyne! The Prime Minister has no Power to Breach the Constitution
My attention has been drawn to an article, “Power to the Prime Minister!” purportedly written by Ezra Alleyne, in the Sunday Sun of August 19, 2018.
Mr. Alleyne referred to an exchange between Senator Moe and me, in the Senate, about the appointment of a person to the post of Director of Communications by the Prime Minister. I contended that the Prime Minister of Barbados has no power to appoint persons to public service posts. Senator Moe disagreed on the point that the person was a consultant and not a public officer. She went on to point out that all prime ministers of Barbados have so far appointed consultants. Apparently, she does not understand that persons can legally be appointed on contract to public service posts but not by the Prime Minister.
I am not surprised that Mr. Alleyne weighed in on Senator Moe’s side but in doing so, he attempted to obfuscate the issue behind some nonsense about the first Prime Minister of England, Sir Robert Walpole, and all other British prime ministers since then appointing consultants. While I can agree that prime ministers of Barbados can arrange to have their permanent secretaries hire consultants, on a contractual basis, I must point out that none of those consultants have ever been assigned to public service posts.
On Wednesday, August 15, 2018 the Senate debated and approved the Public Service (General) Order, 2018 that was made by the Prime Minister in her capacity as Minister with responsibility for the Public Service. In addition to raising salaries by 5 percent that order, among other things: established offices in the Public Service; and determined the number of persons who may be appointed to those offices. Under the head, “Prime Minister’s Office”, the Prime Minister established one post of Director of Communications. That post is therefore a public office and as such, it is subject to section 94. (1) of the Constitution of Barbados, which states:
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, power to make appointments to public offices and to remove and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices is hereby vested in the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission.
It is my understanding that the person who occupies the post of Director of Communications is a non-national who was engaged by the Barbados Labour Party to interfere in the recent elections. It is noteworthy that non-nationals who are alleged to have interfered in the 2016 United States elections have been indicted to stand trial.
My concern is that this present administration is attempting to further blur the line between constitutionally protected Public Service and party politics.
Mr.Alleyne closed his article by saying, “To the victor the spoils”. I would like to point out to him, who fancies himself as a constitutional expert, that public service appointments are not part of the spoils of election victories in this country. To my mind, Ms Mottley’s action, of appointing a director of communications, is an abuse of power that might very well be unconstitutional. It reeks of the corruption that Solutions Barbados and the Barbados Labour Party campaigned against.