Ministry of Communities, Saturday, November 10, 2018
The Ministry is heartened at the ruling of the High Court in the action brought by the Peoples Progressive Party member, Ms. Bibi Shadick, with the sole intent of thwarting the holding of the first consecutive local government elections in Guyana’s history. This constitutional right to elect local leaders, waywardly denied by PPP for over two (2) decades, was yet again under threat.
The PPP has demonstrated by its every action both in government and now in opposition that it sees no relevance for the system of local democracy and is misusing the LGEs process as a barometer for 2020 General and Regional Elections. It was this centralist and dictatorial approach which underpinned the PPP’s action of imposing 38 Interim Management Committees (IMCs) during its tenure instead of holding elections as constitutionally prescribed. Democratically elected representatives of the people were replaced with handpicks amenable to the dictates of central government to manage the affairs of communities countrywide.
The Ministry, therefore, views this ruling as a victory for local democracy and a validation of the new course of local government under the David Granger lead administration. This system which has been exhumed by this administration has suffered years of intentional neglect and its capacities severely degraded to the point of dysfunctionality.
In keeping with the ‘Capital Town’ vision articulated by President Granger at the commencement of the 11th Parliament in which each of our ten (10) regions will have a ‘Capital Town’ which will serve as the engine of development, delivering a wide range of public services, the four hinterland administrative centres namely; Mabaruma, Bartica, Lethem and Mahdia were elevated to the status of township. This policy is geared towards ensuring the development of our hinterland regions and closing the gap in the conditions that exist between the coastland and hinterland regions. With the activation of the eight new NDCs, as challenged by Shadick, approximately 91 % of the electorate will now fall within LAAs exclusive of Amerindian neighbourhoods.
While, admittedly, local government may lack the glamour and high stake of national politics, it is a very impactful, incredibly important part of the political dispensation of this country. It provides citizens access to improved public services and the opportunity to be involved in the task of managing and developing their areas and monitoring the delivery of those services.
The Ministry is vindicated that its efforts geared at rehabilitating and extending the system of local government are in accordance with the law. The Ministry will continue and redouble its efforts at fast-tracking government’s strategic embrace of decentralisation and people’s empowerment with the aim of ensuring that each part of Guyana develops. We hold firm to the view that once provided with the necessary support and resources, people are best able to manage their affairs.
Now that the unrelenting attacks of “gerrymandering, tinkering, plot to undermine the PPP stakes at LGE, no consultation and even to damage local democracy” levelled by PPP has been proven to be baseless, Guyanese are urged to seize this empowerment opportunity.
Let us give the system of local democracy a chance to work. Ensure that your community gets the best leadership possible that will propel its development by voting on Monday, November 12th.