Jul 31, 2021 Letters
On November 4, 2018, the Guyana Chronicle carried an editorial, “The Importance of our Local Government System.” In that piece, the editor sought to highlight the careful thought that was expended in the preparation of our constitution, and the pivotal role the Local Government System was destined to play in ensuring inclusive and participatory governance. Suffice to say, we are far removed from this ideal and the PPP/C has constantly spared no effort in guaranteeing that our local government system is degraded, undermined, and reduced to an unspoken whisper.
This is particularly evident in the current demise being faced by the Woodlands-Farm NDC in Mahaicony. For two months now, the council voted to have the chairman removed. The regional chairman, PPP/C MPs, the Minister of Local Government, and other minds in the ministry tried to challenge the validity of the motion on the grounds that it was not presented correctly, in that standing orders were not followed. Firstly, following my election to the NDC, standing orders were never followed, and were set aside. Moreover, there is hardly any NDC in this country that follows the standing orders. They soon discovered that this argument could not hold water. Let me explain. Standing Order 7 sets out the guidelines on the presentation of motions. However, Standing Order 26 clearly states that while other standing orders could be suspended, Standing Order 7 could only be suspended if two-thirds of all voting members are present at the time the standing orders are moved to be suspended.
The day the motion was moved, the requirements of Standing Order 26 were met, as 11 of the 14 voting members were present. Moreover, the chairman knew that the motion was coming and had been visiting councillors and soliciting their support. No one, not a single councillor, has any confidence in the chairman. The ministry has for the last two months been dragging their feet on the matter, even informing the defeated chair that he is still the chairman, and no one can remove him. To paraphrase the words of Hon. Gail Teixeira, “If a president could be removed by a confidence vote, then what about a chairman?” They have even gone further to instruct the overseer to exercise her power to recognise him and override the council. This is a slap in the face of democracy.
On July 29th, 2021, the council voted at a special meeting to have the chairman removed as a councillor for being in contempt of council. This charge was brought against the chairman because he failed to follow the directives of council, stating that he will sign only the documents he chose to, further, he deliberately altered a decision of council stating that his powers as chairman overrides the council.
If our country is to develop, it would take concerted effort by every community. That is the purpose of the Local Authorities – providing an organised means of developing our country. The Woodlands-Farm NDC is controlled by the APNU+AFC and I rather suspect that this is a deliberate effort to make the party look bad since the chairman is another Charrandass, elected on the APNU ticket in 2018. I weep as a Guyanese for the future of our country. What better, however, could be expected from a government with the worst possible track record on local government?
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