Local Government and You!
Granger led APNU/ AFC coalition is hard at work in conjuring up contemptuous bullish approaches, that they hope will stifle and resign the Guyanese citizenry into a docile mode of passive acceptance.
The nation can, however, take solace from the feedback of the majority, that this time around their pursued ‘accept and get on with it syndrome’, will unequivocally, not be allowed to happen!!!
Citizens continue to witness the almost daily flagrant abuse of obligations by the leaders of the coalition towards the implementation of key Constitutional Commissions.
Only recently, Granger’s violations reached a higher level when he eliminated every shred of decency expected of a Head of State operating in the interest of citizens. It came pouring over recently when he publicly and shamelessly coaxed the North American Chapter of the PNCR to adopt approaches of the past to keep the party in power.
The President should be wary that there are many among us who experienced the stifling 70’s and 80’s, administered over by the PNC’s ruthless dictatorship policies.
Let it be known, therefore, that everything will be done to prevent such curses on our beloved country and fellow citizens from ever occurring again, by undemocratic approaches!!!
Notwithstanding, however, citizens must recognize that even as this APNU/AFC coalition attempts to stretch the tolerance levels of the majority beyond the maximum limit, it is necessary to point out that the need to allow the civil and judicial processes to be exercised must also be allowed in addressing these signals. They will be challenged and exposed without fear and with unquestionable boldness, because our country is deserving of the freedoms earned.
As it relates to elections matters, there is general awareness that the 2016 Lo- cal Government Elections is still largely un-finished; that serious problems in several Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and Municipalities exist, which would significantly impact any upcoming elections.
Important also is the big problem with the register of registrants which has to be resolved, as thousands of Guyanese are not registered at the place where they are living.
Further, it is crystal clear that a new house-to-house registration exercise is way overdue. Hence, it is imperative that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) go into full operational mode, immediately.
The strategy of the Granger-led Coalition fuelled much delay in the past and now spews much contamination that they are aware will be challenged, into what must represent the most transparent measures realizing the choices of citizens.
The unilateral, unconsti- tutional and controversial appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM will be a serious matter for the ‘Court’ and this process will be a deliberate effort by the APNU/AFC Government to interfere with the functioning of GECOM.
As it is, GECOM is dead with respect to functional transparency and nothing is happening in respect to elections preparedness and readiness. But citizens have to be viper patent as these maters have to be addressed in due time even if delayed. It must be made clear to this Granger-led Coalition that the Burnham era election approaches is also dead and gone. Rigging of elections will not be condoned and all the ‘unfit and improper staff’ at GECOM will have to be removed and a proper sanitization done to reflect a balance.
It is unacceptable that despite confirmation of serious misappropriations, corruption and blatant pilfering at the GECOM Secretariat reported by the Auditor General, the same persons will be approved to oversee the systems of voting. Rationally, the cleansing should have commenced before the millions of dollars were approved by parliament for the same corrupt persons to steal.
The use of the term ‘bitter and contaminated’ in describing the level of accountability and transparency at GECOM is mild and indeed an understatement. Even after the significant procurement breaches reported by the Audit Office; the Minister of Finance recently reported that GECOM did not submit a procurement plan, which was a requirement according to the 2018 budget circular. It is the same questionable characters, overseeing the process and who will be involved in monitoring election matters.
Further, there are still serious allegations involving the spending of more than one hundred million dollars in the purchasing of materials that were not used in the 2015 and 2016 Elections. Many serious pending issues include:
- Several senior staff members are still at the GECOM Office ‘liming’ and collecting ‘fat’ salaries.
- The fact that inside confidential sources is calling on the Auditor General Office to expose the millions of dollars that was paid out to phantom workers.
- That not only are there reports of discriminated employment of persons to work at GECOM, but the ‘pay sheets’ are heavily padded with names of families and friends.
The public is calling on the GECOM Commissioners to get rid of those at the Secretariat, including the Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield, the Manager of Administration and Support Services, Michelle Ward and the Chief Accountant, Joseph Eastman, who were allegedly involved in the financial and procurement irregularities at the Election Body.
For the 2018 fiscal year, Parliament approved $192.8 million on Capital works and it is hoped that the monies are properly utilized. Overall, $2 billion was approved for GECOM and the administration is also expected to explain what they will do with the millions of unspent monies for 2017.
It is of note that allocations include $21M for the upgrade of the IT Office and a further $7.2M for the purchase of 40 Desktop Computers to replace the current system in Region #4.
Inside sources are questioning the purchase of these computers and the development of the IT Office, which did not function during the 2015 General and Regional Elections and 2016 Local Government Elections. Much more will be written of GECOM spending and pilfering
Guyanese at home and in the Diaspora have recognized and are already condemning ‘Rigged Elections’ approaches touted and implied by Granger’s attitude. The mere actions of this government are synonymous with deep seated fraudulent intent, for the upcoming 2020 Elections.
All must be alerted to guard against any of the beaconing dirty signals. Further, institutional arrangements must be put in place and the many local and international organizations must be fully alerted and be ready to overlook in ensuring free and fair elections in Guyana.
It is very clear that the litigation process was deliberately orchestrated by the APNU/ AFC so as to create confusion and frustrate the work of GECOM. Guyanese must prepare to stand up and fight against ‘rigged elections’.
(This article was prepared by Neil Kumar, Ms. S & Mr. A)