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There is a seeming shift in the dynamics of the body politics in Guyana. Natural leaders are emerging and taking the place of the established political leadership and activating civil society. This could only be good for society because it would create the necessary activism essential to ensuring democracy and nation-building.
The Washington based nonprofit public policy organisation, Brookings Institute, reminds ‘Civil society [is] an essential ingredient of development.’ George Ingram, Senior Fellow- Global Economy and Development, Centre for Sustainable Development, the author of the named article said civil society is “an important source of information for both citizens and government. They monitor government policies and actions and hold government accountable.”
Ingram went further in saying “they engage in advocacy and offer alternative policies for government, the private sector, and other institutions. They deliver services, especially to the poor and underserved. They defend citizen rights and work to change and uphold social norms and behaviors.”
Few would honestly deny Guyana does not have an active civil society. It is not lost on many Guyanese that some who are/were activists and promote themselves as members of civil society when one government is in power, would go silent when another is. This is a deficiency in Guyana that should be addressed with deserving urgency because it hinders development.
The More Developed Countries (MDCs) in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica have very active civil societies. The other MDCs have moved ahead and left Guyana behind. This is not a good place for Guyana to be nor a good feeling.
Guyana was once the intellectual pearl of the Caribbean, led in the formation of the trade union movement, agitated for internal self-government, and so many other feats related to human and governmental development. Guyanese were once the trailblazers of the British West Indies.
Inertia from civil society, in any society, is not good for national development. An apathetic civil society helps to facilitate a lethargic opposition, create and bolster arrogant governments. Neither position is good for Guyana, not at this phase of development when Guyana has emerged as an oil and gas nation.
In situations like the above the masses, particularly the vulnerable, will suffer. People need to be speaking out more, become members of civil society organisations or start forming organisations and advocate for what is good for Guyana. Guyanese need accountable government and opposition, security and prosperity. Civil society is important to achieving these.