The PPP does not want its NDC chairmen, councillors to cooperate with central and local government

Dear Editor,

In the media on August 28th 2017 Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo declared that he disagrees that PPP/C NDC councillors are uncooperative, and stated that they have valid reasons for not participating in events. Then he absolved himself by guilefully stating that the PPP/C has declared its willingness to work with both the local and central government officials, although he went on to defend the NDC chairpersons and councillors who he said, “have their opinion; they are on tight schedules and are constantly engaged in the people’s work.”

I beg to differ. The PPP/C never wants to co-operate with the local or the central government, and there is ample evidence to support this. I know for a fact that every NDC and RDC Statutory meeting is preceded by a caucus where PPP officials will come all the way from Georgetown to direct councillors what to say and do at the meetings. The political spin is always preferred and it’s always about making the government looks bad.

Based on information these councillors have been directed not to attend certain events organized by the government and to boycott the use of Regional flags. They were also directed not to raise rates and taxes at the various NDCs although the rates and taxes are ridiculously low. An annual rate/tax of $80 is paid in prime housing areas with many rich residents living in huge houses. This has starved the NDCs of the revenue which they so badly need to develop their communities. There is hardly any improvement in these NDCs. If it were not for the CIP workers who are paid by central government then all the drains in the NDCs would have been clogged up and all the areas overgrown with bushes. Chairpersons and councillors must tow the party line or else they are threatened with serious disciplinary action and face the possibility of not being re-elected.

Mr Jagdeo claims that these persons are “constantly engaged in the people’s work”. Again I beg to differ. Many residents don’t even know their councillors, although they are living in the same area. Many persons from different areas visit my office on a daily basis and asked me to resolve various issues affecting them, and make it clear that they do not even know who their councillor is. So the excuse of “tight schedules” cannot hold water.  They are uncooperative as directed. I will agree that they have “tight schedules” at Freedom House to attend caucuses and party activities.

Whenever the government tries to train these chairmen and councillors to become more efficient and to deliver a better service to the community, the PPP reverses this training and makes it counterproductive. It is always about finding the political twist to garner political mileage, never development.

It must be recalled that for 23 years the PPP never held any caucus because they never wanted councillors to have any input. Chairmen and councillors remained in their respective positions for years and years since no local government elections were ever held.

Mr Jagdeo is taking the high moral ground speaking about the Local Government Commission, but the PPP government killed local government democracy from 1994 to 2015, a period of nearly 20 years. Our Minister of Communities has made it clear that the LGC will be operative this year, so I see no reason for Mr Jagdeo’s politicking.  At least it will not take two decades. He must understand that this government brought back to life our local democracy and will never do anything to stifle it.

Mr Jagdeo also took a cheap shot at President Granger, accusing him of wanting people “to pay homage” to him and wanting “PPP councillors to wear shirtjac suit and tie” whenever he goes to any Region.

This statement is totally untrue and there is no evidence to support this. Councillors must dress appropriately as a matter of respect for the Head of State so where is the problem if a councillor wears any of the attire mentioned. I saw many PPP councillors wear their red shirt whenever Mr Jagdeo visits, or when they attend any function at Babu John or elsewhere.

Are we to assume that they were directed to do so by Mr Jagdeo? What about the garlands which always adorn the necks of Messrs Jagdeo, Ramotar and other PPP officials? Were these not directed ‘to pay homage’ to them? PPP organizers will ensure that they get party members to elaborately prepare these garlands. Also sometimes ‘money garlands’ were used as well.

I must also add that the majority of these councillors are hardcore PPP members or supporters who have no independent will of their own, yet Mr Jagdeo claims that they have their ‘own opinions’.

The PPP controls most of the Regions and the NDCs and they must understand that when they imposed their political agenda on these Regional Chairmen, NDC Chairmen and councillors, they are retarding the development of these Regions and communities. Guyanese are not that naïve to blame this government when they know who controls these Regions and the NDCs.

 

Yours faithfully,

Gobin Harbhajan

Regional Democratic Councillor

APNU+AFC

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