Supreme Court of Judicature (Appeal) (Amendment) Bill3109 07 Feb, 2013
Mr. Morian: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to speak on the Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Bill 2013, Bill No. 3/2013. It would be remiss of me if I do not correct some of the anomalies which I have heard from my learned Friend that both of us did the walk-around in Linden. First of all, he said that every person in the House is fully well aware of why these Elections are not held. I am not aware.
Secondly, he said that the Government should have used its five-seat majority to have this business completed a long time ago. But the Government was more preoccupied to use its five-seat majority to do other things that were even contrary to law. My good Friend spoke of Cap. 28:01, but he forgot that Cap. 28:01 also spoke of the Local Government Commission. We have waited long for the Local Government Commission to which the Hon. Minister, as you serve that position to function as the entire Commission...
The approaches to the IMC are not democratic. The good Minister, my Friend, said that the process started with going around to communities and having discussions. If we all could remember, in Kwakwani, persons rejected the whole process because their names were placed on documents even without having the knowledge of what an IMC was or is. These were the approaches in Kwakwani. If there is a democratic process, one would expect that the allocation of seats will continue just as how they were before, but it is not so.
We are, yet again, here to amend the whole process. This is a challenge to the human rights of all Guyanese. We have signed on to Conventions on Human Rights that permit us to choose our own leaders every four years, three years or whenever, but our human rights are being trampled by the Government right now. Whatever you call it, when you walk into a community and you rape my right by deciding who should be in power, what has happened to my human right and human dignity which give me the authority to choose who I want to lead me?
The Hon. Member, Ms. Vanessa Kissoon, spoke earlier concerning the employment situation as it relates to contractors. We are in Region 10. We have Local Government Authorities in Region 10 but because of the emasculation of the local organs we have total confusion because the Ministry of Local Government manages everything from Georgetown, against the rights and the wishes of the people of Region 10. Where is the democratic process?
My expectation today is that the fact that there is a Select Committee working the process, the motion for us today should have been to give the Committee a certain deadline, not to ask for postponement. There should not be a motion for postponement and prolonging; there should be a motion to speed up the process.
As my good Friend said, there are 71 supposedly Local Government organs, 65 NDCs in six towns. As I said before, these bodies were democratically elected, but the Local Government Minister and his colleagues did a Nicodemian visit. For those who do not k now the Bible, what that means is to come in at night by stout; Nicodemian: while men slept, and one wakes up and finds that there are institutions set up. My Brother and good Friend, democracy 101 simply starts by saying “for the people, by the people”. When I wake up overnight to find that there is an institution, what happened to my one vote? Why was my vote not counted? I submit today that the IMCs are illegal entities based on the process. I use Kwakwani as my area of pointing reference. People came in... What is funny is that we have persons purporting to be authority on Local Government business. We have persons purporting to hold some special knowledge as it relates to Local Government. I have news for those persons. I have spent 20 years also in Local Government. I am saying that, in Kwakwani, the rights of people... That is why we rejected it and will continue to reject it.
I would like to issue a caveat here - or if should I morph it openly and call it a warning - that there is a national outcry, upsurge and interest from the people to see the democratic process live again. This cuts across all parties, whether PPP/C, APNU or AFC. The Guyanese people are seeking a democratic process to live under. Under the PPP/C’s approach to Local Government, democracy is dead. We of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Guyanese people condemn this lawless approach on undemocratic impositions on the Guyanese people.
The list of malpractices, misdemeanours and undemocratic impositions on the people of Guyana cannot continue. While we are in Guyana here, it boggles the mind that we cannot manage, in a democratic process, about 750,000 people. It is very sad. What is more striking is that with all our pump and make belief knowledge, we had to be extolled concerning democracy by four persons from North America and one from the European Union, calling for Local Government Elections. I cry shame on the Government. Are we so mentally incapacitated that we cannot run a country of 750,000 people and produce a democratic process?
I wish, therefore, to put the PPP/C on notice that APNU, in support of the Guyanese people, will not sit idly by and allow important aspects of Local Government reforms to be circumvented, watered-down or misrepresented.
Our demands are consistent with the democratic process that we strive to honour. We of the APNU, in the commencement of the Local Government reform process, are asking that the books of the NDCs and the towns be added to it. It is very important. We are also asking that a deadline be set for the holding of Local Government Elections and this must not be beyond November, 2013.
What is striking here is that with all of the high-sounding language, one does not sense an urgency, on the Government’s side, to move this process forward. If there are hiccups or shortcomings on either side, I would like to see those shortcomings brought into the public domain. The people of Guyana need to know who is holding up the process. My good Brother, Friend and Hon. Member said that the hold-up is over here. What I would like to see is all the mechanisms that form part of the hold-up be published. Let the Guyanese people be acquainted with what is holding up the process. Together we can work to take this thing forward.
Between now and when the elections are held, we expect that the whole Nicodemian excursion stops. It is time for this madness, as I call it, this craziness that we call IMCs and the formation ‘Cs’, to stop. Was it so hard, my good Brother and Hon. Member, for you to come to Linden and call the folks and say to them that the present situation is not working so tomorrow we want to hold an election in Region 10 and we want the people to come out and vote? That is what we want to see, but, instead of that, people were placed... Mr. Speaker, trust me, if you go to Kwakwani, the persons that they put in place are not functioning because most of them do not have a clue of what an IMC is or what Local Government is.
APNU demands full Local Government reform before the holding of these Elections. We want reforms before the holding of these Elections. They call it rambling, but if I should repeat myself, the Hon. Minister should have come to this House and should have said that the whole process is in breach and he is moving a Motion that no longer beyond this time will be Local Government Elections. They do not come with so much meandering to postpone.
I got this from NCN, dated February 2, 2013; you are going to hear who is doing this at the end. “Plans are moving apace for the hosting of the long-awaited local government elections.” This was at a press conference by the Hon. Minister of Local Government. That was from NCN, dated 2nd February, 2013.
Like I said, we support the Bill which calls for these Elections to be held within the prescribed time by law. We support the holding of Local Government Elections within the specified timeframe. Today, I urge all those who are working on the legislation, the reforms and all of the necessary mechanisms to make certain that Local Government Election is held in 2013 to do so with haste and with speed because come November, 2013, the Guyanese people expect to have Local Government Elections.
Thank you very much. [Applause]
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