Neville Gafà’s story is fast turning into a farce. Now confirmed to be working as a person of trust at the Office of the Prime Minister, he has left many bewildered as to what his job with the government really entails. More importantly, many are still asking about his potential links with a notorious Libyan warlord.
The OPM and Mr Gafà have been trying to take people for a ride. As the episodes unfold, it is becoming increasingly evident that either Castille is covering up for him or that there is more than meets the eye.
It is not a light matter when a government employee says he “bumped” into a warlord on the streets of Tripoli, riven as it is by civil strife.
Puzzling too is his meeting with government officials during a trip he described as a “personal visit”. The Libyan media said he was taking part in the talks as a special envoy of the Prime Minister, but Castille denied this. Up to now, no satisfactory explanation has been given as to how Mr Gafà came to be at that meeting.
Though not impossible, it is simply not credible that anyone would meet Haithem Tajouri, leader of the militia group Revolutionaries Brigade, on a street anywhere in Tripoli.
As Partit Demokratiku general secretary Martin Cauchi Inglott pointed out, Libyan militia leaders are highly guarded and protected to precisely prevent people from “bumping” into them.
The OPM said Mr Gafà had been asked to explain what he had been up to in Tripoli, but while Castille must have been satisfied with the reply, the public continues to be ignored.
Mr Gafà’s story assumes greater interest as he had been identified by a whistleblower as having allegedly charged Libyan nationals thousands of euros for visas to live in Malta.
A police investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing on his part and the Prime Minister has since publicly defended him, saying he has been doing good work.
Mr Gafà was in Libya again last month, this time as part of an official team for talks about economic and commercial relations.
So if, as it now seems, Mr Gafà has been hired as a fully-fledged government representative, why is the government so secretive when it comes to talk about what he really is up to.
At one point, Mr Gafà worked at the Health Ministry, but after his “chance meeting” with the warlord, he was transferred. It is only now that the Prime Minister has confirmed that he is working at his own office as a coordinator.
Speculation and suspicion germinate in an environment where the administration is not transparent enough in its work.
Labour has fallen foul of its own undertaking in this regard as it has been anything but transparent.
There have now been so many instances when it failed to give proper account of deals or contracts that lack of transparency has indeed become one of its most serious drawbacks.
Gafà’s story and the way Castille has tackled it further expose an administration that is growing increasingly arrogant and indifferent to the people’s right to know.
The Emperor’s new clothes - John Vassallo
Pedestrian hit by two cars in quick succession