Reliable registration before November?

When the dead and donkeys voted

`I’m a Berbician’

I’m offering most brief commentary on the lead caption about national registration for electoral purposes because it is easy for me to predict what a sensitive and contentious national issue this will soon become. (Ha, see how I can often pre-empt others? Without the “recognition”?)

Two preliminary considerations up front: firstly, to me one major sustained sign of our delayed development is how we cannot routinely execute swift or sudden elections.  Numerous and varied are the reasons advanced just before any and every elections cycle; societies with larger populations and electorates are ready within weeks of a decision – Venezuela, Brazil, Jamaica. Is it a case of superior “resources” only? Or continuous systems always at the ready?

Secondly, I’m standing by for his Excellency’s Chairman of the Elections Commission to respond fully to the PPP’s Doctor Jagdeo’s Registration Concerns. That Chairman – like another Chairman – GHK Lall –  apparently loves his language. But I ask Justice Patterson, with my respect intact, to address the issue in a manner that non-tertiary-educated voters like me can appreciate.

The PPP, Lists, Civil Society…

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) –for decades a victim of mass-scale electoral fraud and vote-rigging until that Party itself became accused of the same around 1997 to 2006 — has already registered public concerns as the Local Government poll looms. (I’m reasonably certain I read that Minister Bulkan has advised that these elections 2018 will be held in November?)

The PPP has attracted a rather pointed and caustic response from the General Secretary of the People’s National Congress (PNC). Not on behalf of the whole APNU or the AFC. (It is expected that they will, almost naturally, “follow the leader.”) Frankly Speaking, I find that both the PPP and the PNC have valid arguments for their respective cases.

Based on previous actual experiences, the PPP is right to remind all about the “cleansing” of dead persons’ names from the list of Registered Electors. The Party has already discovered valid glaring discrepancies on such listings recently issued by Justice Patterson’s staff. As it is, dead folks still have a chance at voting!

The PPP is trumpeting the role of the General Register Office (GRO) in removing the deceased from the voters list.

But the GRO falls under the Department- Ministry “Citizenship,” headed by Minister Winston Felix, out of the Ministry of the Presidency. The PPP is certainly no fan of Felix. Only recently he explained the activities of some registration individual in the North West who seemed to have attracted suspicion from Dr Jagdeo’s monitors there.

After GECOM’s latest cycle of “continuous” registration of citizens, inclusive of subsequent claims, the PNC wants “verification” by way of painstaking countrywide house-to–house registration. On its own, that method is very sound and desirable but in our circumstances and realities, it will take months because of funding, training, logistics, the movement of residents in certain locales, the hours appropriate for visits and a whole host of Guyana-oriented challenges.  No wonder the PPP is accusing the PNC of wanting to delay both sets of imminent elections. Of course PNC Gen-Sec Amna says nothing of the sort! PNC/APNU has nothing to fear after three years of solid achievements.

But “house-to-house” is really up to Justice Patterson’s GECOM. He has little time for accusations/allegations of fraud at his outfit before his debut, or from the PPP. Wonder how he’ll cast his vital vote on house-to-house if it comes to a Commission decision? PNC’s Amna has promised: No delays. Stay tuned. Because if voters do turn out, the local polls can be great indicators.

Dead and donkey-voters

Younger Guyanese might hardly know that under Mr Burnham’s PNC, there was overseas voting. As Americans and some other nationalities still do, Guyanese residents abroad were given good time to vote for their choices in Guyana’s elections -1968/1973? (I heard that it was a Clifton Mortimer Llewellyn John idea.) Some governments argue that overseas voting keeps their Diasporas connected and involved even though those citizens and voters have elected to actually live elsewhere. The arguments are interesting- especially when those voters enjoy dual citizenship.

However, arising out of complaints by the PPP’s Dr Cheddi Jagan- whose Party was truly battered by rigging right at home- the BBC and other investigators in Britain investigated the authenticity of the overseas electoral list and the existence of “Guyanese voters” there.

Man! That was sadly serious. And funny! Hilarious, but not to the PPP! It was found that many were the names of persons who had long died. Some addresses were open fields where horses and donkeys grazed peacefully. In our golden old age now, some of us could claim that one or two PNC victories were assisted by donkeys! I know that current PNC leader, His Excellency, will never countenance that sort of thing now. And his GECOM chairman.

“I’m a born Berbician!”

I’ll return to this (oblique) viewpoint (?) soon. It’s just that I overheard a proud female New Amsterdam-born Berbician sharing and wondering on the consequences of our imminent oil-and-gas production and sector.

As an aside, I know from experience that Berbicians in New York (especially?) would declare that “I’m a Berbician” even before revealing “I’m a Guyanese.” I would admire their fierce pride and love for their Eastern County though they’ve left it physically.

So this lady was wondering, “What’s in the oil discovery for Berbice?” Well, the revenues and the wealth fund will benefit every citizen here right? Including Berbicians. But she pointed to all the on-shore preparatory facilities that are being readied at Ogle, Vreed-en-Hoop, Houston – Demerara.

Will Berbice and Essequibo enjoy direct opportunities? I couldn’t discuss. I have to research further. Even as Berbicians boast about their world-renowned writers, jurists, trade unionists and cricketers. And Cheddi and Moses et al.

What do you think?

1. Would His Excellency accommodate 1000 Venezuelan refugees if the United 

Nations gives us a structured “small piece”?

2. Ow man. Magistrate Daly sentenced the 65 year old to one year for having just the

improvised pipe for smoking.

’Til next week


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