Cyprus Mail
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Our View: Jobs for the boys as always at SGOs

IF CONFIRMATION were needed that very little ever changes in the Cyprus political scene, it was provided in the last few days by the party horse-trading over the appointments of the SGO boards. There were party meetings to decide which members they would propose, there were meetings between the leaders of parties participating in the government to agree the distribution of the chairmanships and of course meetings of the leaders with the president who will have the final say.

The names of the candidates were sent to the state legal service for approval and are set to be approved by the Council of Ministers today. There has been much speculation in the media about their composition, one report saying that DIKO had been given the chairmanships of five SGOs, another that DISY had not included party officials in the list of names it submitted, and yet another claiming that AKEL would not object to members of the party being appointed. Oddly, until a week ago, AKEL was saying it did not want its members appointed and DISY was claiming it would not submit a list of proposed candidates.

But once decision time approached the parties watered down their principled stands, as did President Nicos Anastasiades, who had initially supported the idea of non-party appointments. But abandoning the cronyism and favouritism that has been at the centre of political life for decades is easier said than done. In theory, Anastasiades could have announced that he would not be conferring with parties or accepting lists of proposed candidates, but he may have lost the support of the parties backing his government on more serious matters.

Also, we suspect that parties are under pressure from their members to stake a claim in the distribution of the SGO seats and chairmanships. The new DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos, for instance, if press reports are accurate, has used the SGO appointments to assert his authority over the party. Not only had he shown that he had clout by reportedly securing five chairmanships, but he has also proposed the names of people that were loyal to him rather than members of the old DIKO guard. Inadvertently, with this assertive behaviour, he also showed that his leadership would be as interested in securing a big share of the spoils of power as that of his predecessor.

The meritocracy, everyone likes to pay lip service to, remains nothing more than a joke, while the appointments of the boards will be a farce for as long as the SGOs are under state ownership. The parties are so vehemently opposed to privatisation because they want to carry on sharing out board seats and chairmanships to their members as a reward for loyalty.

And in the end the only positive thing the president can say was that “no names were imposed on me by the political parties.” This could hardly be described as progress.

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