Guyana: Losing hope in the Local Government Elections – By Leonard Gildarie

Leonard Gildarie

It has been a tough year for me. I am due back at work after three weeks of leave. I kept abreast of the headlines, but did not delve too deep. It was a necessary therapy after a gruelling couple of years.

Local Government Elections were held across the country, and if the political pundits are doing their work, the analysis of the dismal results should throw up some deeply worrying indications.

According to reports from the Guyana Elections Commission, just over a third – about 208,000 of the 573,000 eligible voters turned out to place their X, choosing who they want to manage the various communities and municipalities for the next few years.    

That 36 percent is 10 percent less than the 2016 votes – that translates to about 30,000 less votes. It also meant that of the 573,000-plus voters, just about 48 percent turned up. I will allow those figures to sink in.

For many, the status quo has not changed much. Georgetown, Berbice, Linden and the forgotten Essequibo Coast stayed true to the beaten path of party voting.

The independents tried valiantly but failed to dent the GPS course that has been ingrained in the people. It appears that people are just not interested in Local Government Elections. And there are a few reasons for that.

People are saying that they are being fooled again and again. The few candidates that come knocking disappear into the woodwork after elections. How projects are born and handled become a mystery.

We forgot about the core reason of asking to be elected…to serve, and instead concentrate on doing party work. I am not interested in your agenda.

People pay their taxes and rates, depending on what is being demanded, and expect service. I am not interested that people are not paying. That is your problem. You asked us to put you there so that you can find the solutions.

It can be concluded that the interest of the voting citizenry has slumped to alarming levels for the policy makers and other would-be politicians – that is if you are serious about the strategic importance of numbers.

If you cannot attract the people’s confidence….then you are in the wrong business.

I have decried time and again the management of our local authorities. We need to remind ourselves of the importance.

Central Government is given monies to spend for the year. The regional councils and the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils then recieve these monies. It includes annual subventions and allocations for capital projects. It has been known that many councils are ill-equipped and corrupt. A number of them plainly sabotage the council to make it look bad.

The reports coming from Regions Two (Essequibo Coast) and Five (West Berbice) suggest that those councils were hamstrung by infighting. Projects were stalled, walkouts were common, and the public bad-mouthing made its way to the news.

And at the end of the day, the councils equipped by and large with new powers to make decisions on revenues, failed to capitalise.

In 2016…after two decades, we had elections. It was hailed by Government and the diplomatic community as a major development and an opportunity for local governments to turn communities into examples of what quality living should be.

Alas, the bureaucracy, sloth and mindless don’t care attitude continued.

We therefore should not celebrate the results of who won which constituency.

We all failed in staying away; returning the same sweet-talkers to office and not demanding more.

I believe that little has changed. Georgetown will remain the same and the councils, ignorant of their power, will bide their time for their political masters, waiting for the next elections.

I gotta ask y’all…who is the tail and who is the dog…and who is wagging who?

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