The personnel policy in Adjara and preparing to launch procedures for a vote of no confidence in the Government of Adjara
On September 8, seven members of the Georgian Dream (GD) faction of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara backed the call for a vote of no-confidence in the Government of Adjara. Aleksandre Chitishvili, member of the Supreme Council and chair of the Finance, Budget and Economy Committee, announced on August 27th his intention to request a vote in the Supreme Council. He claims that the reasons for the vote of no confidence were personnel changes implemented in the Ministry of Education of Adjara, along with the contemplated attack on MP Murman Dumbadze’s team.
After the meeting, Medea Vasadze (GD) explained the reasons for the vote of no-confidence: government politics influencing personnel decisions in the civil service; failure to fully expend funds budgeted for the first two quarters of 2014; and corruption within the government.
According to current legislation, a vote of no-confidence requires support from 14 members (⅔) of the Supreme Council. To achieve the required 14 votes, GD needs either the support of its coalition partners - Free Democratic Party and Georgian Dream Adjara - or the support of the opposition United National Movement (UNM). Free Democratic Party and Georgian Dream-Adjara have stated their objection to the vote of no-confidence. However, the head of UNM party, Robert Chkhaidze, says they will support it.
On August 31st, there was a meeting between Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili and members of the Supreme Council’s GD faction about the issue. The meeting was also attended by Member of Parliament Murman Dumbadze.
In conversation with a TI Georgia representative, Aleksandre Chitishvili stated that Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili does not support the proposed no-confidence motion, but the Prime Minister does not refute the initiative altogether. According to Chitishvili, the PM said “as the government was not capable of finding jobs for job-seekers in Adjara, or finding employment for the party members or citizens, on the contrary, the government made people leave the work places or positions they had occupied before,” there are reasons to lose confidence in the Government of Adjara.
Ketevan Manelishvili, deputy Minister of Education of Adjara; Bidzina Apkhazava, the chairman of the Culture and Monument Protection Agency of Adjara; Merab Nagervadze, the chairman of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs; and Levan Jincharadze, the executive director of Batumi Oil Refinery LTD (a 100% state-owned enterprise) have all been dismissed from their positions.
Gia Tavamaishvili, the Minister of Education and Culture of Adjara, told a TI Georgia representative that the personnel changes made within the ministry were not politically motivated. He further explained that the main reason for dismissing Ketevan Manelishvili, Bidzina Apkhazava and Merab Nagervadze was that they were all given reprimands about their work ethic by himself and the Head of Adjara’s government, Archil Khabadze. However, he also admitted that the reprimands were never provided in writing as per procedural requirements. The Minister has not concretely defined what the reprimands were about.
Gia Tavamaishvili has confirmed that when the aforementioned individuals were nominated for their positions, Murman Dumbadze was actively participating in the process. When TI Georgia asked Gia Tavamaishvili how was it appropriate for an MP to interfere in the personnel policy of Adjara government, the minister’s response was that Murman Dumbadze is one of the leaders of the Coalition and he only gave recommendations to the government.
TI Georgia has spoken with Bidzina Apkhazava, former chair of the Culture and Monument Protection Agency. Apkhazava explained that Archil Khabadze reprimanded him about a building license in the Gonio area one year ago. However, as it turned out, the building license was issued by Adjara City Hall and not by his office. Thus, it is difficult for Bidzina Apkhazava to identify the reason for his dismissal. Up to this day, Apkhazava still maintains his job as an employee of the Culture and Monument Protection Agency and is certain that he will be appointed as a Director of Batumi museum.
Merab Nagervadze, former chair of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, does not rule out court proceedings over his dismissal. He says he has not been provided with an explanation for his dismissal. He stated that if the head of the government or the minister had questions about his work or disapproved of his working methods, they should have put their complaints in writing.
Levan Jincharadze was appointed to the position of executive director of Batumi Oil Refinery LTD in 2012, after the parliamentary election. He has now been dismissed. He is the brother-in-law of Medea Vasadze, member of Adjara Supreme Council. Medea Vasadze explained in an interview with TI Georgia’s representative that Levan Jincharadze was not appointed to his position because of his family ties.
Levan Jincharadze, however, states the opposite in his letter to Davit Baladze, Minister of Finance and Economy of Adjara and Archil Khabadze, Head of Adjara Government where he explains that he was promoted to his job as an executive director of Batumi Oil Refinery LTD based on recommendations from Avtandil Beridze, Medea Vasadze and Murman Dumbadze.
Levan Jincharadze disputes the findings of the 2013 audit report, which was the main reason for his dismissal. He plans to initiate court proceedings. He claims that he was dismissed only because he was a member of Murman Dumbadze’s team. In the order about Levan Jincharadze’s removal from his position there are serious accusations made against him, including: wrongful, ineffective and unlawful expenses of financial assets; flaws and discrepancies in business; and the lack of cooperation and communication with the founding government agency.
Currently, it is unclear what information the Supreme Council has about the alleged corrupt dealings of Adjara Government. Article 123 of the Rules of Procedure of the Adjara Supreme Council requires the creation of a task force for investigating any kind of violations of the law and to execute appropriate and immediate measures if government agencies or high officials are found to have broken the law of Georgia or the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. The creation of such a task force occurs when: (1) there is suspicion of unlawful actions perpetrated by government agencies or high officials which endanger the political, economic or social interests of Georgian citizens; and/or (2) there is evidence of unjustified budget spending. No such task forces have been created at the Adjara Supreme Council to date.
It seems evident that the Supreme Council of Adjara has not suspected corruption within the government for two years; or has chosen not to investigate any suspicions. Thus it seems unusual that these new accusations coincide with altercations between political groups and possible maneuvering for power within the governing Georgian Dream.
A number of questions arise as we analyze recent developments in Adjara, and there appears to be reason for concern about the personnel policy.
The civil service should be transparent, accountable and apolitical. It is inappropriate to appoint government employees through nepotism and family ties. Civil servants should not be appointed to strengthen the powerbase of a politician, to influence the political environment or to undermine the democratically elected government. Moreover, any decisions about the dismissal of an employee should be reasoned, substantiated and based on adequate evidence. Otherwise it may be considered politically motivated.
TI Georgia suggests that:
the Government of Adjara, to improve transparency and accountability, explain the reasons for personnel changes along with dismissal cases.
the Supreme Council of Adjara make all information public, which concerns corruption within the government. Moreover, they should explain what actions they have taken in violation of the law.