The following are the Regional Executive Officers of Guyana’s ten administrative regions:
Leslie Wilburg – Region 1, Barima-Waini
Rupert Hopkinson – Region 2, Pomeroon-Supenaam
Dennis Jaikaran – Region 3, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara
Pauline Lucas – Region 4, Demerara-Mahaica
Ovid Morrison – Region 5, Mahica-Berbice
Kim Williams-Stephens – Region 6, East Berbice-Corentyne
Roderick Edinborough – Region 7, Cuyuni- Mazaruni
Gavin Gunga – Region 8, Potaro-Siparuni
Carl Parker – Region 9 Upper Essequibo-Upper Takutu
Orrin Gordon – Region 10, Upper Demerara-Berbice
The Regional Democratic Councils (RDC) is the supreme local government organ in Guyana’s ten administrative regions. The RDC is a mini-government. It has vast responsibilities. The provision of health, education and infrastructure all within the regions fall under the RDCs. The RDCs also assist the lower-level local authorities such as village councils and neighbour democratic councils. In addition, they are assigned agency functions for some government agencies and ministries.
The RDC’s therefore should ideally reflect, as far as possible, the ethnic make-up of the country. This will help encourage social cohesion, something that the government says it is interested in having.
Each Regional Democratic Council is headed by a Regional Chairperson who is an elected official. Given this fact, one can appreciate that the hands of the government are tied when it comes to ensuring ethnic and gender balance of the Chairpersons of Regional Democratic Councils.
However, the same cannot be said of Regional Executive Officers (REOs). These are appointed positions. The REOs is the Accounting Officer and Clerk of a region. The REO is akin to a Chief Executive Officer.
Here again, however, the government has failed to ensure ethnic balance in the appointment of Regional Executive Officers. At the least, the government could have ensured greater Amerindian representation, particularly in the appointments of REO’s for Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9 where the Amerindians form the largest ethnic group.
The Alliance For Change (AFC), in this regard has been a major disappointment within the government. They hold 40% of the seats in Cabinet. It should be more vocal when it comes to ensuring that these appointments reflect greater ethnic balance. But it seems as if cat got the AFC’s tongue.
The AFC can no longer use the excuse of being off-guard when it comes to state appointments. Just after the May 2015 elections, there was a public outcry over the ethnic and gender imbalance of appointments to state Boards.
At the time, the AFC claimed that the process may have been rushed. AFC leader Raphael Trotman has been quoted as admitting that the various boards lacked gender and ethnic balance.
The AFC therefore was fully au fait with the need to ensure greater ethnic balance in appointments. The AFC therefore cannot claim that the appointment of Regional Executive Officers was rushed. It therefore must explain whether it was consulted on these appointments and what was its position; and if they were not consulted why they had not objected to the lack of ethnic balance in the appointment of Regional Executive Officers.
The AFC owes the nation an explanation as to how it plans to ensure ethnic security in a divided nation when it has not been able to prevent these imbalanced appointments. If the AFC is being bullied within the government, it should come out and say so and then remove itself from the government.
The AFC has been allocated 40% of the seats in Cabinet and in the National Assembly. It can use its position within Cabinet to speak out in favour of greater ethnic balance in state appointments. It must not be seen as complicit in imbalanced appointments.
The AFC is not powerless. It can exert pressure on the government even if it is ignored. Recently, a government motion – misplaced as it may be – was defeated in the National Assembly because two AFC Ministers abstained. With the government only holding a one seat majority in the National Assembly, the AFC holds the balance of power within the National Assembly even though it is on the government side. It can bring pressure to bear on the government to remedy the imbalance in state appointments.
Right now the APNU+AFC is smelling ranker than the PPPC. If you compare the ethnic balance in Permanent Secretaries between the PPPC and the APNU+AFC, the PPPC was far more balanced.
The PPP had appointed more African Guyanese as Permanent Secretaries than the APNU+AFC has appointed Indians. Under the PPPC, the following African Guyanese were appointed as Permanent Secretary: Emil McGarrel, George Jarvis, Joslyn McKenzie, Trevor Thomas, Delma Nedd, Leslie Cadogan, Lorraine Baird, Alfred King and Angela Johnson.
The APNU+AFC promised change. Most people thought this meant change for the better.
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