‘Outgoing NTC chair has harmed his public image’ – Mervyn Williams

─ responds to Fredericks’ accusation of govt failures

DPI, Guyana, Friday, August 3, 2018

“Former Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Joel Fredricks has done great harm to his own public image by reporting inexactitudes and using them in an attempt to discredit the Government of Guyana.”

This statement was made by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Ministerial Advisor, Mervyn Williams, in an official response to Fredericks’ accusation of government failures. During the recently held NTC Conference, the outgoing chairman said the government “failed to keep several promises including addressing land rights, the lands commission, revision of the Amerindian Act, granting of the title for the land for the NTC Secretariat and the renaming of St. Cuthbert’s Mission to Pakuri.”

Ministerial Advisor, Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Mervyn Williams

Williams also said: “He [Fredericks] has committed another grave sin: by using the public podium to attack a sitting Head of State [President David Granger] in his presence and using untruths and making claims which he knows that he cannot substantiate.”

On the issues of land rights, Williams explained that in fulfilling a 2015 commitment made to the NTC, in March 2017, the president established a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to address this matter. This COI was rejected by the NTC under the Chairmanship of Fredericks without the suggestion of an alternative mechanism for the achievement of same.

“The COI has since proceeded to address the other components of its mandate and will shortly report to the President.  Meanwhile, the Indigenous Peoples population has lost this opportunity to have the very important land issue investigated beyond the scope of the Amerindian Land Titling Project (ALT) and titles fast-tracked.  The newly elected Executive Committee’s leadership on the matter is eagerly awaited.”

With regards to the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006, Williams said that the consultative process leading to the strengthening of the Act is ongoing. The process commenced with a consultation in Santa Rosa, Moruca, Region One, in April.

The Presidential Advisor said: “At the time of Brother Joel’s (Fredericks is a Pastor) attack on Government, there were at least two completed rounds of consultations.  There was a deferral of additional rounds of consultations to accommodate the NTC conference attendance.  The process has since resumed.”

In 2017, President Granger had committed to assisting the NTC with land for the establishment of its secretariat. Williams recalled that Fredericks was briefed by the Ministry of the Presidency on what steps he was required to take to conclude the process for the issuing of title; he did not take those steps.

The consultative process to obtain the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the general village population on the renaming of St. Cuthbert’s Mission to Pakuri concluded on July 15.

“Brother Joel was still Chairman of the NTC on July 15th 2018.  He ought to have known…He should have been informed by his Vice Chairman (Lennox Shuman), the past Toshao of that Village that there was a General Village Meeting on July 15 at which the residents roundly rejected the call for a name change. It is the will of the people that, the name of the Village shall remain St. Cuthbert’s Mission,” Williams concluded.

By: Synieka Thorne

Image: Department of Public Information

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