Kaieteur News – Next Monday’s local government elections represent a moment of truth for the Guyanese people. If the PNCR does well, it will be a moral indictment of the nation given its role in the attempt to benefit from rigged general and regional elections.
If the PPP/C does well, it sends the wrong signal. It will embolden them to continue to betray the public trust by selling out the country’s patrimony for a pittance. The main political parties are mobilizing their support bases to turn out next Monday. And in the process the smaller political parties and individuals are being sidelined and rendered ineffective. This has been the tragedy of Guyana, including at the local government polls in 2016 and 2016 when the individual candidates and small parties fared poorly.
Citizens are being wooed to vote. But there are citizens who will reflexively vote also because they feel that they have to keep opposing factions out. Hatred and dislike for the PPP/C is no reason to vote for the PNCR. Similarly, dislike and hatred for the PNCR is no reason to support the PNCR. There are in fact more reasons not to vote next Monday than to cast your ballot in support of either of the country’s two main political parties. Not voting will send a strong signal to these two political titans that they should not take their support bases for granted. It will also be a demonstration of people’s power. Next Monday, the citizens of Guyana can send a powerful political message to the country’s political leaders that they, the people, are not powerless and will not be taken for a ride.
Our political leaders need such a wake-up call. They needed to be reminded that their duty is first and foremost to the citizens and not to themselves, friends and cronies. A boycott of next Monday’s local government elections will be the most powerful signal yet from citizens that it can no longer be business as usual when it comes to the manner in which the country is governed and in which the interested of citizens are safeguarded. These elections will change nothing. The same old rigmarole will continue. Citizens will not enjoy any appreciable benefits in the quality of services officered. In the past, the electorate was promised improvements. Where are those improvements?
Boycotting the elections can help break the stranglehold the country’s two main political parties have had on the country’s politics, including its municipalities and neighbourhood democratic councils. For too long, this stranglehold has held this nation in a vice. GECOM has been running advertisements encouraging citizens to vote. In these ads, GECOM has been emphasizing that these elections will allow citizens to have a say in matters that affect them. But how true is this? How many citizens actually get to play a role in the decision-making of their communities? People’s lands were sold in one area to corporate entity and it had to take protests for the transaction to be reversed. How many town hall and community meetings are held to allow citizens to have a say in how their communities are governed?
Citizens elect representatives but then have little say in what happens. Did the citizens of Georgetown approve of the parking-meter contract which was signed? Boycotting the elections would represent a protest against citizens’ alienation from decision-making. Boycotting the elections can also be seen as a demand for the system to be revamped. The local government system does not work. In the towns, the constituencies are too large. Every ward should be represented on the council. There also have been calls for a return to village councils rather than pooling villages together and calling them neighbourhood democratic councils. Staying away from voting next Monday can send a signal that the system does not work and needs to be revamped. Boycotting the elections will also send a message about the erosion of public trust. It will remind our politicians that they are there, not to feather their own nests and ambitions, but to serve the public. In this way a boycott will help to restore public trust and redefine the relationship between citizens and their elected representatives.
If, however, you don’t wish to boycott the elections, if you feel somehow that it is a moral obligation to vote, at least send a signal that you are tired of the political divisions and political polarization. Vote for the small parties, vote for the independent candidates. In so doing, you will be fulfilling your moral duty while issuing a wake-up call to the country’s two main political parties that they should not take you for granted, that trust needs to be restored, change needs to be pursed and that citizens demand and expect better from them.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
Jagdeo will make ayo sell ayo bodies to feed ya’ll pickney.
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