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I recently came across an article accompanied by a picture, in the media, reporting on the Minister of Infrastructure`s meeting, with the Regional Executive Officers (REOs) of all ten regions, to discuss the infrastructural works to be undertaken in the regions. That article and the matter reported on may be seen as a depiction of the Government at work in pursuit of its development agenda. However, anyone who is acquainted with Guyana`s system of Governance will be able to see through the charade and recognize that the meeting was a mockery of Democracy in the name of Development. Here are my reasons for this conclusion.
- Guyana has elected regional democratic organs whose members have the responsibility of overseeing the administration of certain public affairs in their respective regions. Public Infrastructure is one of those areas for which they are responsible. They also have the responsibility for propositioning the Central Government for resources, for them, to do works in the regions, as well as propositioning the Central Government on what should be done by the Central Government in the regions. A meeting with the REOs, whose role is to superintend those works on behalf of the Regional Democratic Councils, effectively facilitates the by-passing of the people`s representatives in the decision making and administrative processes, thus making a mockery of Democracy in the name of Development.
- At the elections for regional democratic councils, different parties won in the various regions. In that circumstance, parties and by that token councils other than those controlled by the ruling party do not have other mechanisms for communicating with the
Central Government on behalf of their constituencies. Therefore, by-passing them is an act of exclusion thus undermining the carrying-out of their role and excluding them from governance in blatant violation of their right to be included; and Good Governance principles.
- This disposition is neither an oversight nor an error. In Region 7, the party in Government is the APNU-AFC, however their nominee(s) to the Regional Tender Board have not been included, although the central authority which finalizes the composition of those boards has no discretionary power in the matter. It has been reported that when their exclusion was queried, the response given was that the APNU-AFC had done the same for that region when they were in government. What is not said is that through a majority vote the APNU-AFC determined the nominees at that time. In this instance, the majority vote has been deemed irrelevant as “last lick” politics kicks in.
All of the above supports my abiding view that our democracy is dysfunctional. What is there in a democratic system that in its very operation undermines its inherent intend. What is there in an electoral system that throws-up/produces the antithesis of its intent? Democracy is about people`s involvement in the decision making in the conduct of public or collective affairs. No democracy exists or is restored if that fundamental is not at the core of its outcomes.