Two recent occurrences motivated me to carefully re-read the provisions of the Laws of Guyana that provide for the establishment of the Elections Commission and the Local Government Commission.
Those occurrences were: 1. The Leader of the Opposition’s public statement that he had instructed his representatives on the Elections Commission to ensure that certain concerns are addressed; and 2. the holding of a press conference, by three members of the Local Government Commission, at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
Both of these bodies are provided for in the Constitution and in each instance the Commissioners are appointed by the President in keeping with the requisite legal provisions. In no instance are any of the commissioners/appointees referred to as representative of anyone.
These commissions are responsible for national, regional and local elections; and regulatory and staffing matters of the local authorities, respectively. Given the political nature of the matters which those bodies are intended to adjudicate, it stands to reason that those bodies should be impartial and non-partisan in what they do and how they are perceived. That can hardly be the case if on the one hand they are publicly portrayed as being under the direction of one of the partisan actors of the affairs in which they are the adjudicators, or are hosted by such an actor to make public statements about the body which should be non-aligned. But that is exactly what occurred.
Therein lies one of the pathologies of our political system and our manner of governance. There is utter disregard even for the appearance of good governance; and disrespect for impartiality in the conduct of public affairs, to wit, affairs that must be conducted impartially and in keeping with the principles of good governance if they are to gain national acceptance.
While I am a proponent of constitutional reform, it is apparent that equally important is the question of our political culture, which seems to reek of disrespect for the universal norms of good governance and the rule of law.
Unless this pathology is acknowledged and addressed we are condemned to be a backward country, and a hindrance to national mobilisation and ultimately national development.
The Opposition Leader has quite rightly called for gas and oil to benefit from good governance and impartiality. This call may not be taken seriously, coming from him, unless he demonstrates an understanding and commitment to those very things by his pronouncements and more specifically his actions.