You have autonomy as the CEO for a company branch in Essequibo. You lost an investment of a billion dollars in your area of operation, that is, Essequibo. The head office decided to sustain your branch by writing off the billion you lost. A certain type of reality is now present. You have lost some of that autonomy, because when you want to employ a deputy or make another investment, the head office will want to have a say. You cannot remonstrate with the head office, because it is going to throw in your face the loss you incurred.
This is the analogy that is applicable to the City Council. It suffered a huge debt with the major garbage-collecting companies. Needing the cash, the companies withdrew their services, throwing City Council’s solid waste removal system into confusion. The Granger/Nagamootoo government stepped in and paid the companies. In the act of paying the debt off, the APNU+AFC regime showed the face of hypocrisy.
If the State can pay off the debt of City Council, then why can’t it intervene in other areas where the City Council’s incompetence, corruptibility, nepotism and destructive nature have been on display since the local government poll last year?
It was Fareed Zakaria, academic and CNN commentator, who in his famous article argued against the traditional definition of democracy that we all came to accept. (“The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” Foreign Affairs. Nov/Dec, Vol.76, No. 6, 1997, subsequently made into book form, “The Future of Freedom.”) Zakaria posits that a country can have free elections which makes it democratic, but ends up electing a dictator. His point was that you cannot use elections as your standard bearer to define if a country is democratic.
The Local government election that brought into being the first democratically elected council for Georgetown since 1995, has not brought democracy to Georgetowners. On the contrary, it has failed to consolidate democracy. Every conceivable caricature that a government can practice, even if it is elected, can be seen in the exercise of power at City Hall. Yet there has been no intervention by the Prime Minister and/or the President. Forensic audits are falling like mangoes from a tree on a GuySuCo estate compound, but there hasn’t been one done at City Hall as yet.
It is against the background of this particular omission that PPP leaders can go to their constituencies and cry witch-hunt. Forensic audits are in perfect order at the institutions where there have been such investigations, but why not City Hall? Why no central government investigation of corruption at City Hall? Is the APNU+AFC regime telling us that there have been angels at City Hall since 1995? Only a moron would say yes.
If there is any evidence of hypocrisy in the APNU+AFC regime it can be found at City Hall. The Town Clerk has more than a year of accumulated leave but will not take it, even though there is an established deputy Town Clerk that could carry on. Central government issued an edict that accumulated leave must be taken.
The perennial excuse is that the government does not want to intervene in the affairs of the Council. Well, we certainly have to deconstruct language to understand the relationship between City Hall and Vlissengen Road where the presidential complex is situated, and which also houses the Office of the Prime Minister, whose portfolio is governance. If the State can pay off the debts owed by City Council, why then the same State cannot order a forensic audit?
We come back to the Prime Minister. Officially, he is charged with the portfolio of governance. One would like to think that in the scheme of things, he has some form of jurisdiction over City Hall through the Ministry of Communities, in the absence of a fully functioning Local Government Commission. What is the Prime Minister’s position on the recurring incompetence at City Hall?
I will continue my assertion that there is no other country with an ocean of incredible negatives like Guyana. Last week, a councilor at one of the statutory meetings said that it is the council that makes decisions and policies, and the Town Clerk carries them out, but she accused the Town Clerk of making decisions that the Council only hears about afterwards. The Deputy Mayor expressed those identical sentiments two months ago.
So who did we elect in Georgetown to make policies? The councilors or the chief clerk of the Council, who is the servant of the council? Make no mistake; the Town Clerk is the boss of bosses at City Hall. Only in Guyana, maan!
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