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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Zvone Černač: I advise Golob’s government to stop stigmatising people and start dealing with real problems

By: C. R.

At the press conference, the deputy leader of the SDS parliamentary group Zvone Černač spoke about the decision adopted at the first regular session of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia on June 1st, 2022, which instructs ministries, bodies within ministries, and government departments to prepare a list of names of all new employees and permanently and temporarily transferred civil servants from January 1st, 2020 to June 1st, 2022, with the titles, pay grade, and type of employment by Tuesday, June 7th, 2022.

The following is a summary of the statement by the deputy leader of the parliamentary group, Zvone Černač.

Today marks the first week of the new government led by Dr Robert Golob, in which the work of the government was marked by numerous personnel changes. In the first week, Golob’s government made over 50 staff changes. If we compare these changes with the period more than two years ago, when the government was taken over by Janez Janša, there were only 10 of these changes in the same period. If at the time these were the usual personnel moves made by each government when taking office, such as the Intelligence and Security Service, the Director General of Police, SOVA, UKOM, the Government Legislative Service and some others, we have now witnessed significant personnel interventions on many areas, including those where mandates have not expired.

The change of director of the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for the Prevention of Money Laundering is a matter of concern, as we know that an international investigation is underway into strange transactions related to Gen-I led by Robert Golob, and regarding the identity theft on some accounts in Romania. All of this is a topic of concern to the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering, so the express change of director is a matter of great concern.

The government of Robert Golob also replaced the entire board of the public health institute of the National Institute of Public Health. Already at the first session of the government, all four representatives were replaced by cadres close to the Social Democrats or even members of the party. Golob’s government also intervened in the council of the National Laboratory for Health, Environment, and Food, the director of the Directorate of the Republic of Slovenia for Infrastructure was replaced, and a representative of the founder was appointed to the board of the Radioactive Waste Agency. Exchanges were also carried out in all energy companies – in the supervisory board of ELES, SODO, and BORZEN. They also changed directors in the Public Agency for Marketing and Promotion of Tourism, the Public Agency for Civil Aviation, and the Supervisory Board of DRI, which is the largest engineer in the country and performs many important tasks in the field of state and other infrastructure and many others. Together there were over 50 personnel changes.

If we read media headlines during the government of Janez Janša, which made about 10 staff changes in the first week, and the headlines of today’s media, during the government of Robert Golob, which made over 50 staff changes in the first week, we see a significant difference in reporting. During the government of Janez Janša, we read the titles of articles such as “We will be ruled by a selection of Prime Minister Janša’s closest associates”, “Janša took over the repressive apparatus of the state on the first night”, and during the new government we read Golob’s government-friendly articles or as Dr Anže Logar, said “most of the media eat out of Golob’s hand, which they will do throughout their term”, which is very bad for democracy. Negative reporting, which began at the first constitutive session of the government led by Janez Janša, continued by the mainstream media throughout the term. The labelling of individuals, especially members and supporters of the Slovenian Democratic Party, continued, creating a negative connotation, even about people with high professional qualifications. We do not read that today.

There is also no excessive stumbling block in the extremely controversial actions of the highest new government officials. I am thinking in particular of the Minister of Health, Mr Loredan, who is putting direct and immediate pressure on the director of the National Institute of Public Health, Mr Milan Krek, to resign. In a normal, orderly democracy, such a minister would now be a former minister. The NIJZ is an independent and professional institution, which Mr. Krek managed very successfully during the stormy times. Through this successful leadership, he and his colleagues prevented hundreds, thousands of deaths.

If everything that Golob’s government is currently doing was done by a government led by the Slovenian Democratic Party, it is probably not necessary to emphasise what the headlines in these same media would be. We are therefore witnessing double standards in media reporting, which is extremely dangerous for democracy, as the media is one of the most important control mechanisms when it comes to preventing the authoritarian moves, we have witnessed in the last week.

Mr. Golob recently told parliament that the media needed to be depoliticised by the National Assembly, which he said was a parliamentary task. Golob’s government will therefore depoliticise the media. We have come a long way. After all that we are witnessing, the media really needs depoliticisation, which can only be done by those who work in the media. Upright journalists who do not succumb to pressure, and not those journalists who walk between journalism and the parliamentary benches of the national and European parliaments, or between the professional services of parliamentary groups, which are mostly on the left of the political pole.

In addition to extensive staff changes, Golob’s government adopted an unusual decision on the list of civil servants at its first session.

This is not about civil servants tied to the mandate and other staff who are initially replaced by the government, but a list of all employees. I do not think we have experienced this in the history of this country. This decision reminds us of the dark times in our history, when people were first stigmatised through lists of people and later gradually negatively stigmatised day by day, then they were literally glued a sticker, and finally burned. Even then, the media played a key role – if it had been played differently, it probably would not have happened. I deliberately used this brutal comparison, because the actions of Golob’s government in the last week show a state of mind that is dangerous for democracy. The continuation of this state of mind can only be prevented by a responsible democratic society in which the media has a huge responsibility in addition to the opposition. Only in this way can these authoritarian acts, which we also see in parliament, be prevented.

There is no rational explanation for the government requiring ministries to list civil servants. We know what the law says. The organisation of work at the ministry is determined by the head, i.e., the minister, and in the bodies composed it is determined by the head of the body composed, in agreement with the minister and in the services by the head of the service. By law, the head is responsible for arranging the work in such a way that the tasks entrusted to a particular body are organised in the most optimal way. This is called the act of systematisation and systematisation is constantly changing, as the needs of the work change, but the responsibility lies with the head, i.e., the minister. There is no responsibility on the part of the Prime Minister or the Government as such, nor does it have the right to interfere in any way with these relationships, because they are clearly defined by law. Recruitment procedures are clearly and unambiguously defined, and in the event of irregularities, the system for monitoring and sanctioning violations is clearly defined. Already in the candidate selection process, unselected candidates have the right to appeal, view the documentation, etc. If any irregularity occurs anywhere, in the Civil Servants Act, in Article 180, we have the Inspectorate for the Civil Service System, which checks for irregularities or non-compliance with statutory and executive provisions.

The purpose of the decision, which is distinctly political in nature or even of a racist and fascist nature, is only to obtain from the list those whom the current authorities consider to not be of their political provenance. And these are mainly those who are part of the SDS political group, directly or are only supporters. They also want this list to be stigmatised through the media. I kindly advise Mr Golob to put this list in a drawer as soon as possible.

For civil servants, it is not their political thinking that matters, but their competencies. That was the key criterion for me. The main problem in the state administration is not the search for members of the Slovenian Democratic Party and thus negative stigmatisation, but the main problem is to ensure a system so that competent and capable staff will see their opportunity in the state administration because they are currently lacking. This should be the task of every government.

I advise the government of Robert Golob to stop stigmatising people and start dealing with real problems. The government, led by Janez Janša for more than two years in difficult conditions, has laid a good foundation for the future. In the last quarter of last year, we recorded the highest economic growth in the world and the same in the first quarter of this year, when we reached almost 10%. By comparison, neighbouring Italy has negative economic growth in the first quarter of this year.

Source: www.sds.si

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