Local gov’t polls vital to racial democracy – David Hinds

Dr. David Hinds says that Local Government Elections is imperative if racial democracy is to be realised in Guyana.

While making a presentation yesterday afternoon at the “Conference on the State of Black Africans in Guyana,” at the African Cultural and Development Association in  Thomas Lands, Hinds, an Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, said that placing more

Dr. David Hinds
Dr. David Hinds

power in the hands of the people has to occur if there is to be Racial Democracy.

During his presentation, titled, “African Guyana and the Struggle for Racial Democracy,” Hinds argued that the government is responsible for distributing resources for consumption by its citizens. In Guyana though, he postulated, government distributes these resources unequally and it is the African communities which are usually left wanting.

The ability to affect the way in which these resources are distributed, he said, is dependent on who holds political power, and how much. Hinds said that Guyana is considered to be a democracy, but said that a democracy assumes that the society in which it exists, shares overarching values. In such a society, he said, the inclination by one group to assume power and control the distribution of resources does not exist.  He said that racial democracy demands that the values of each group have value and meaning, but “in Guyana the values of Africans, Amerindians and even some Indians do not have meaning.”

“In Guyana this (racial democracy) is not the case,” he said, and added that if there is to be equality and self-determination, “shared governance is imperative, a fundamental requirement.”

“This can be won in our community by way of the hosting of Local Government Elections,” said Hinds, who added that the people, once empowered would have the ability to do something about the conditions meted out to them.

He said a man living in Buxton was best placed to decide who should represent the village at the political level, as opposed to the government through an Interim Management Council (IMC) or even an opposition party through their nominations.

A section of the audience during yesterday’s Conference
A section of the audience during yesterday’s Conference

Noting the importance of local government elections, he denounced recent statements by AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan that he would be  prepared to have Local Government Elections with the existing laws.

The four local government bills, deemed important for bringing about local government reform and local government elections, were recently brought back to the national assembly, but its discussion were deferred after the subject minister Ganga Persaud refused to initiate discussions on the bills.

Persaud, as well as other members of government, had said that the move was taken because the combined opposition changed the order of business.

The bills are slated to be discussed in National Assembly during this week’s sitting.

In the meantime he said, “We have to put fire to our leaders not to cave in on these bills.”

Until such elections are held though, Hinds said, there is no reason why people from African communities cannot begin organising themselves. He said that under Guyana’s laws there are provisions to reinstate the village councils which once existed, in spite of the politically erected local governing bodies.

Once this is done, Hinds argued, the lands and other resources which once belonged to the village will also belong to them. All that is needed for this to become a reality is the requisite amount of signatures.

He also said that community groups need to start “doing things,” as opposed to waiting on the government for assistance. “Join something, go back out into your community and join something,” Hinds urged those who turned up to listen to the various presentations.

He said that the people can have the power to force government to consider their values and their needs.

“This government has plenty money, plenty money, and the only time they bring it to us is to bribe us, we need to stop this by sitting down at a table with them and demand our share,” Hinds argued.

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