What took place in Kwakwani this past week makes quite clear that politics is raising its ugly head in the government of local communities. The only persons who were aware of the inquiry by the Ministry of Local Government were the supporters of the People’s Progressive Party.
Even though the date on public notice was May 11, the community was not informed about it until May 22. And it was advertised as a public meeting (not inquiry) on our local television to be held at the sub-region boardroom of the RDC.
Anyone familiar with Kwakwani will know that the workers’ club is the place that is used to hold public meetings, and the boardroom of the RDC would not have been suitable to hold such a meeting.
As an elected councillor and concerned resident, I was not surprised by the PPP supporters gaining control of the NDC, as a lot of promises were made during the 2011 election campaign, one being the total domination of the Kwakwani community.
To prove that it is only power these supporters are interested in, I will present some facts that can be checked in the attendance records of the Kwakwani NDC. The PPP contested the local government election against a community-based group and won 3 of the 15 seats.
After the first year in office, one of the members was elected to the post of vice-chairman.
This member was only been available to attend meetings when the chairman was absent.
The other two members were the first set of councillors to stop attending meetings, thus reducing the number of councillors.
Editor, I can say without fear of contradiction that the Ministry of Local Government contributed significantly to the state in which the NDC found itself. Since 1994 after the local government election the council has been requesting the valuation and revaluation of properties in Kwakwani, so it can garner enough revenue to carry out some of its basic functions (properties were last valuated in the early 1980s). So in 2012, more than half the community does not pay any form of rates and taxes and the community is expanding, while no resident pays $1000 per year as rates and taxes on his property. To compound this situation, the entire subvention of $3 million is controlled by the office of the Regional Executive Officer, who, over the years, can be considered to have had a programme to keep Kwakwani underdeveloped.
I will continue to insist that my community is severely short-changed when items on our bills of quantities are purchased in Georgetown and trucks from Linden are hired to transport them to Kwakwani. These items can be sourced right in Kwakwani and it would be a form of supporting local businesses.
If the Ministry of Local Government is serious about ensuring that the Kwakwani council especially function and serve the residents, it first has to give the council the necessary support which will enable it to adequately sustain itself fianacially, and allow the council to pay a decent wage and not the $5000 a fortnight presently being paid to some workers. Then it must allow the residents to elect their own representative who they will know will work in their interest.
It is time we recognise that the time for business as usual is over, and that residents are not prepared to take hand-picked leaders and representatives. We know who our leaders are and who can do a good job in representing our cause.
No IMC can transform Kwakwani unless the ministry is going to give them what they were not giving the elected representatives.