‘Business Page’ in this past Sunday Stabroek noted how the government has undermined the regional administrations and the local democratic organs across the country. For more than ten years, it has failed to pass the necessary laws and to establish the Local Government Commission required by the Constitution of Guyana to allow for operational and financial autonomy of those bodies. In that column I reminded readers that Article 12 of the Constitution states that “Local government by freely elected representatives of the people is an integral part of the democratic organisation of the State.” Instead of democracy, the PPP/C has restored party paramountcy in its vilest form.
One day after the column appeared I learn through the online news medium Demerara Waves that during the PPP/C’s electioneering campaign in Region 9 this weekend, that party’s regional headquarters was the location from which hundreds of persons were paid $20,000 in cash. The ostensible purpose of the payment was “flood relief.”
It is entirely irrelevant whether the recipients were told that the money came from the public Treasury and not the PPP/C. Each of the ten administrative regions has its own office, staff and transportation facilities. It is wrong, and egregiously so, that public funds are disbursed from any party office. I would like to think – though with this dishonest government and its political arm the equally dishonest PPP/C, no one can be sure – that following the flood, a proper, auditable system was used to identify eligible persons for “flood relief.”
Yet, this government, which for years had robbed the Amerindians of their entitlements under the Amerindian Act 2006, heartlessly made the flood victims wait for five months until the PPP/C elections entourage rolled into town to make the “flood relief” payment at their party’s office. I would not be surprised if the payment was deceptively an inducement to the poor Amerindians to attend the PPP/C rally and had little to do with “flood relief.” It is after all, how the party has commoditised the Amerindians of this country, particularly since 1992. It is about paramountcy of the party which Guyanese had deluded themselves had died in 1992. In fact paramountcy has matured into a semi-criminal enterprise.
This is just the latest case of the government using the prorogation of the National Assembly as a cover to continue misusing, mismanaging and misappropriating public moneys in a crude and shameless vote-buying national exercise. Even as the non-government parties campaign to unseat the PPP/C, they should remain alert to and oppose all the abuses which are coming to light.
As a member of civil society and of the Committee for Human Rights and Free and Fair Elections, I hope that Gecom, the Electoral Assistance Bureau and all those who will pronounce on the November 28 national and regional elections are taking note of these malpractices. The stage is being set for massively unfair elections.