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After only two years of being in executive power the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime has taken Guyana back to the outdated system of power hoarding and centralised governance. This unfortunate state of affairs is part of the PPP’s determination to undo and reverse every initiative of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC). The PPP regime’s act of reverting to the old system is also a result of the innate nature of that party to control every facet of the lives of citizens; such is the natural tendency of all autocratic regimes.
Guyanese will recall that the APNU+AFC government had stated its intention that power should be decentralised. The previous administration had expressed the intention that the government should be brought to the people. The principles of the deconcentration of government power, delegation of official responsibilities, and devolution of administrative functions were not inventions of the APNU+AFC administration, instead, those principles are required by law; they are mandated by the Constitution of Guyana.
Article 13 mandates that, “The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”
In other words, the main purpose of government is to include Guyanese in the processes of government. It follows, therefore, that the PPP regime, in reversing the APNU+AFC’s decentralisation trajectory, is acting contrary to Guyana’s supreme law.
Citizens will recall that during the APNU+AFC’s truncated term in office, two Local Government Elections (LGE) were held. The first one in March 2016 after the PPP — in its previous incarnation — had flouted the constitution for some two decades by refusing to hold LGE. Article 71 (1) of The Constitution instructs that, “Local Government is a vital aspect of democracy and shall be organised so as to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live.” LGE became due at the end of 2021, however, the current PPP regime has made no moves toward honouring the law and holding LGE.
The timely holding of LGE by the APNU+AFC administration was not only a clear demonstration of that administration’s respect for the rule of law, it was also concrete evidence of that government’s commitment to give power to the people. It was proof that the APNU+AFC was on the path of decentralisation of political power away from Central Government.
Another manifestation of the APNU+AFC’s intention to devolve administrative power was the establishment of four new capital towns. The establishment of the municipalities of Lethem, Bartica, Mabaruma, and Mahdia was intended to bring better services to the people of the various regions of Guyana. It was the stated objective of the previous administration to have a Capital Town in each of Guyana’s ten regions. But the PPP regime — being the autocratic monstrosity that it is — halted the process when it took power in 2020.
According to a report by the Centre for Strategic and International studies, “The implicit rationale for decentralisation is this: If a government can perform closer to the people it is meant to serve, the people will get more out of government and, in turn, will be more willing to accept that government’s authority. The rationale is compelling, and scholars agree that a decentralised system of government is more likely to result in enhanced efficiency and accountability than its centralised counterpart.”
It is most unfortunate for Guyanese that the PPP regime has continued the autocratic, power hoarding, centralised approach. This centrist form of governance was the one used by colonial powers. It is saddening that the PPP has taken Guyana backward. At this point, Guyanese should demand that Guyana is once again placed on a forward path. It is the duty of all citizens to ensure that our country moves ahead once again.