The cry over this entire country is that the results of the general elections will change politics and power in Guyana. As a corollary, one hopes that the election phenomenon will change all of us, all organizations, all Guyana. Why should the results change the PPP, as a political party, and the government it administers only?
I read the other day that Mr. Mike Mc Cormack, commenting on the budget cuts, said that since 1980 the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) was monitoring national elections. Long before that, Mr. McCormack was the head of the GHRA. As it now stands, Mr. Mc Cormack has been at the helm of this entity for over thirty years with his wife holding an executive the position for the same amount of years. By what reason would the membership retain their head for over thirty years?
I don’t care if Mr. Mc Cormack reacts angrily to this but when I look back on my own life and age, this Mc Cormack thing appears as a national farce. I was a brash uneducated youth when he became the head of the GHRA, look at the decades that have passed and he is still there. When I heard that Mr. Mc Cormack had taken up a more than passing interest in rugby, I assumed that the GHRA would now have new leadership. I was wrong.
This position of mine is simply analytical. As a person so long in an office gets older, energy and passion go, and the organization loses its vibrancy. The GHRA is a caricature for a human rights group. It does nothing, hardly do people hear about it and hardly people seek its help. Ask this writer, Mark Benschop, people in the AFC like Gerhard Ramsaroop, journalists like Dale Andrews, in each week people seek help for human rights abuses.
I have no doubt the editor of this paper gets his fair share of assistance requests. People just don’t bother to look in the direction of the GHRA. I really would like to know in whose name is the GHRA head office in.
I did a column on the longevity of the headship of Guyana Olympic Association and I will now return to it. Mr. Juman-Yassin is about to chalk up twenty years as the President. The General-Secretary, Ivor O Brien, has more than thirty years service in that capacity. This is absolute nonsense.
There must be term limits in the constitutions for all organizations in this country. Guyana may be short of rocket scientist and neurosurgeons but it is overflowing with educated people who know about sports. And what about our sports journalists? Can they pen a comment on the eternal roles inside the Guyana Olympic Association?
It is the same with our trade unions. Look around and you will see that some of our unions are headed by people who are in those positions since Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. I remember Komal Chand taking up the headship of GAWU around the same time McCormack went to the helm of the GHRA. Both are still there.
In the Guyana Public Service Union, the constitution was amended to allow the General-Secretary to run without term limits. This was indeed a return to primitive days.
I was one of the persons who helped to draft the constitution for the University of Guyana Workers’ Union. My request was not only must there be term limits for the chairman but the vice-chairman too and executive members cannot serve indefinitely. I don’t know what the status is with the management committee of the resuscitated Theatre Guild but I hope there are term limits there.
I hope the same for the newly formed Transparency International (Guyana chapter).
Vincent Alexander said publicly there should be only two terms for the leader of the PNC and he is right. I hope the PNC adopts that at its congress in July. I know that the Alliance for Change is having its conference soon and I would urge its members to demand that there must be term limits for the leader, chairman, and general-secretary. The danger is just too great when persons can go on to head an organization for twenty, thirty, or even forty years.
This is unacceptable to the human spirit. It is a vexation to the soul. The most horrifying danger is that the incumbent can use those centuries of power to virtually control and own the entity. This is what Burnham in the PNC and Jagan in the PPP did. Guyana was destroyed in the process.
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