I do not have a problem with the objective of the consultation process, which is to democratically choose the Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons of the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils as outlined by Mr Yusuf, and I do not for a moment doubt that the consultation for his NDC was democratically done as was intended. However, what I am aware of is that this process is not democratically done in all the NDCs controlled by the PPP.
As a councilllor of the No 52-74 NDC I have a keen interest in what is going on in my NDC and those around, since I do communicate with elected officials from the other NDCs. On Monday 6th November a consultation was held at the Crabwood Creek NDC and this was in no way democratic. At this consultation Mr Jagdeo’s ‘lieutenants’ were present who tried to influence how people vote. They want people whom they can control.
At the Crabwood Creek NDC consultation, a number of PPP members who are not councillors were invited, in addition to residents who are against the current Chairperson Ms Ramela Bhadrasain. About 10 residents had staged a protest some months back against this Chairperson. These PPP members were allowed to ‘elect’ the previous Chairman who was booted out last year because of alleged corrupt practices.
The normal practice during this consultation would have been for the current Chairperson to address the consultation team and give reasons supporting her re-election, but instead the PPP members who were there began verbally attacking the Chairperson. The selected invitees then began chanting that they wanted the previous Chairman. These PPP members then proceeded to nominate the previous Chairman. This nomination was supposed to be done by the councillors. However, the councillors were not allowed to give their views during the consultation process. The councillors supportive of the current Chairperson were not allowed to speak. Is this democracy?
At the consultation at the Port Mourant NDC, the current Chairman, Mr Imran Khan was outvoted by an NDC councillor, Mr Narinesammy, for the post as Chairman but the current Chair-man is the favourite of the ‘lieutenants’. Will this nomination of Mr Narinesammy be allowed to stand?
It seems to me that if the councillors are headstrong and independent minded then it is difficult to influence them on how they should vote, and I agree with Mr Yusuf that councillors will be more supportive where it is found that the Chairperson is doing well or badly. In his case his councillors supported him because of his exemplary performance, but in the case of the Port Mourant Chairman, he has been embroiled in too many controversies and has lost the support of his councillors. What about the Crabwood Creek’s NDC consultation? This is a clear case where the Chairperson, being an independent minded woman was the victim of an undemocratic process.
I want to remind these PPP officials that I was a member of the PNC and was a candidate at the local government election held under the PPP, so I know the strategies and guerilla tactics which are sometimes deployed by the PPP. I am also privy to news leaks from the Freedom House at No 63 Village and would like to take this opportunity to give Dr Jagdeo a bit of advice: put these ‘lieutenants ‘ on a leash or lose the next general election. They are outdated and their guerilla tactics will only force PPP members and supporters away.