I should like to highlight two issues that were discussed at the last sitting of the Regional Democratic Council Meeting of December 14, 2012.
The first has to do with Parishara Village in the North Rupununi. Earlier this year, village elections were held across the region. Parishara nominated a certain gentleman to be their Senior Councillor to represent them on the Village Council of Nappi/ Parishara/Hiowa.
The regional administration was swift to inform the Village and the gentleman that the nomination was invalid and that they should nominate someone else. The reason proffered was that the man was under investigation by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for some alleged malpractices that were committed while he was Toshao way back in 2006. The investigation was conducted in 2006. Needless to say, Editor, the village and the gentleman are still awaiting the findings of this investigation.
The village refused to participate in the elections. An officer of the region subsequently took a police rank to Parishara in an attempt to intimidate the villagers into participating. Again the villagers stood their ground. For them it was this gentleman or nobody else. The administration’s choice was elected with very limited participation – his relatives and a few of his friends. Obviously, the villagers refused to recognise the elections.
This matter was raised at a previous sitting of the RDC, and with a majority, the PPP side of the council, voted down the proposal to settle Parishara’s problems once and for all.
At the sitting of December 14, a letter from Parishara was read to the council informing us that they have conducted their own elections and the officers so elected will be the village’s representatives. The PPP side of the council was swift in condemning the actions. What’s more, the Clerk of Council, who is also the Regional Executive Officer, informed council that she will have nothing to do with Parishara.
The opposition side of the council objected to the jaundiced remark of the Clerk and vowed to be on the watch when developmental works are being apportioned in the region. The remark was condemned for what it was.
The other issue had to do with a recent protest by the students of the leading school in the Rupununi, St Ignatius Secondary. The students had protested when their headmistress offered her resignation over her dissatisfaction in the way the regional authorities handled a matter of the disciplining of a teacher who was obviously disrespectful to the school, the students, the community and the headmistress.
At the RDC, the PPP took the position that the headmistress was to be blamed for the entire episode and questioned whether we are breeding a nation of protesters. It was pointed out that the children have a right to protest, as a form of expressing themselves in accordance with the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child. This was more necessary since their attempts to have an audience with the Regional Education Officer were bluntly refused. The same officer had refused to meet with the parents the previous day concerning the same issue.
Editor, the regional administration is seriously lacking in the resolution of conflicts. They view every action opposed to their ineptitude as political. They cannot understand that the region has evolved from radio sets to BBM, where information is shared in an instant; and that information is being used to enlighten communities. Gone are the days when the only newspaper available was the Chronicle. We now have access to Stabroek News and Kaieteur News. We also have an educated, vibrant opposition which is resolved to ensure that the affairs of the region are conducted in a professional manner. We are undaunted by the criticisms levelled at us.
Kudos to Parishara; kudos to the students of St Ignatius Secondary. They have taken a stand, and it is hoped that the revolution will spread to other communities.
Carl A Parker