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Election is but one element (the representative element) of Democracy, albeit primary/foundational. Like the foundation of a decrepit building, it may be of little, or no use, if the superstructure of the building (the responsible and responsive elements of the Democracy) is not in place or is dysfunctional. If the foundation itself is faulty, then the entire building may be of no use, even if it has a monumental and grandiose appearance. Those metaphors and analogies may provide an appropriate framework for the evaluation of Guyana`s Democracy.
Democracy is intended to be a system that allows the people to exercise their sovereignty, directly or indirectly, and in doing so preserve their innate/natural rights and their other rights as prescribed by public policy. In most instances, size has curtailed the operationalization of the people`s direct involvement. The people have therefore been unable to be directly involved in the decision making processes. However, inclusion through mechanisms such as decentralization have been developed to involve as many people as possible, in the decision making processes.
Ever since the abolition of slavery and the emergence of local governance, in the form of the Village Movement and the subsequent local government bodies, the people of Guyana have sought to institutionalize their involvement in the decision making processes. In that way, they embraced Democracy. Central to that effort has increasingly been the engagement of local officials to manage local affairs at the behest of the elected local representatives.
In 1969, the Municipal and Districts Councils` Act was passed, that Act provided for the establishment of a Local Government Service Commission. It was intended that that Commission would have insulated local officials from central and political control, thus ensuring transparency as they deliver services to the people. That Commission was never established and that aspect of the democratic machinery was still-birthed. In 2013, as a sequel to the constitution reform process of 1999-2001, provision was made for the establishment of a Local Government Commission with responsibility for staffing, regulating and resolving conflict within and among local government bodies. However, not until 2017 was the Commission constituted. Unfortunately, the composition of the body made a mockery of the noble intent. The Commission was partially stacked with failed, politically biased and incompetent former local government officials. The life of that Commission came to an end in 2020. The bellowing of the democratic intent that emanated from the August 2020 installation of a new government provided some hope that alas that element of the Democracy would have gained ascendency. To the dismay of many, the Commission is still to be reconstituted, however the Minister in that sector has taken it upon himself to usurp the functions of the Commission thus subverting the democratic institution while regaling himself in Caesar`s garbs.
This is but a microscopic example of the continued stymieing and trampling of democracy throughout the 182 years during which the ex-enslaved, among others, sought to charter a democratic course. The effigy of democracy remains as unreachable as a silhouette on the horizon. Déjà vu seems to be our most prevalent cord as the cry for “demo kratia” is drowned out by the thunderous applauses at the successive Emperors in their new garbs.