Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Interim Management Committees
(Aired 8 December 2005)

     On the 29th November 2005 I was called by a friend and I was told that there was going to be an inquiry into the running of my neighbourhood council by the Ministry of Local Government, I said that I had not heard about any inquiry and told me that the local government officials themselves were only aware that there was going to be this inquiry, since when they turned up at the village office a few days ago they discovered a note pinned to the door telling them that it will be conducted on the 30th November 2005. 

    I do not like Collymore's interpretation of the reasons for appointing an Interim Management Committee especially in my neighbourhood and since he is essentially a lawless, devious man using the very law he himself is breaking to execute PPP agenda without any regard to what the real situation is, I decided to attend this meeting.

   First of all we were told that there was a typewritten petition signed by around 43 people in Goed Fortuin Village protesting the functioning of the Malgre Tout Meerzorgen neighbourhood council.

   Apparently at the last local government election held in this area since 1997 the PPP won 11 seats and an independent party won 4 seats. That makes a total of 15 councillors, but at the present time only one PPP and one independent councillor are functioning the others having opted out of the council for reasons known only to themselves, but paramount among the reasons for dropping out was the fact that they considered attending meetings a waste of time.  

   But let's go back to this meeting, the inquisitor, I am calling him this since that was what it looked like to me, who came from the Ministry of Local Government, read all the sections of the act which gave him and Collymore the right to investigate and dissolve [if necessary] the neighbourhood council if this inquisition decided, in their view, that the allegations made in the petition were true. 

   He then asked those assembled [20 people] to commence giving evidence, I interrupted and asked him if it were not better to tell those assembled what exactly the complaints were, before he started to take evidence and he agreed, he then proceeded to read a document allegedly from one of the villagers which laid out numerous complaints and breaches of the local Government act which the neighbourhood council was allegedly committing.

    Ladies and gentlemen I am a manager, I hire people like Adam Harris and Nills Campbell, highly literate media workers, I see applications from people who have graduated as students of the University of Guyana with degrees in communications and this letter of petition seemed to be too well crafted and was clearly written by a highly literate person who knows the local government act implicitly, but on questioning the authenticity of the letter I was told that it was written by one Ramraj a rice farmer living in Goed Fortuin, who said publicly that it was he who wrote it, now I do not believe in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy either, so unless we put this Ramraj in a room with the Local Government Act and make him write this complaint again under test conditions, I will not believe that he wrote it! It was written by someone else probably at the ministry in Georgetown and given to this Ramraj to pass around to get the 40 odd signatures. Now I want you to understand that there is noting wrong with this, no law was broken, so since this Ramraj says that he wrote this masterpiece of argument which Doodnauth Singh himself would be proud of, then so be it.

    Since all I was hearing was legal jargon, about this and that section of the Local Government Act 28.01 which were being breached, I asked the inquisitor to state plainly what the problem really was, he finally said it that there were only two councillors when there should be 15 and that was the core of the problem.

   They then commenced taking the evidence, it shortly became clear to me that this evidence taking was turning into a farce and a racial matter with the usual we [Indo] and them [Afro] Guyanese hurling insults at each other, so I decided to leave, but in departing from this meeting, since I am resolved not to stand up anywhere and listen to one race hurling insults at another, I made it clear to the inquisitor that I will probably challenge Collymore in Court for breaking the constitution and that I considered everything that was going on at this inquisition, wrong and illegal. I told the inquisitor that what we were seeing where was not the fault of the people assembled which I perceived not to be indo or afro Guyanese but victims of Collymore and an uncaring government which was breaking the constitution itself and that was what was causing these problems.

   Ladies and gentlemen Mr. Collymore took an oath of office as follows, and I will quote it for you "I, Collymore do hereby solemnly declare that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the People of Guyana, that I will faithfully execute the office of Minister of Local Government without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that in the execution of the functions of that office I will honour, uphold and preserve the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana" end quote.

   This oath of office does not mandate Collymore to enforce the local government act which he is so given to quoting, it mandates him to enforce and uphold the Constitution of Guyana, the highest law that exists in the land and he has broken this very Constitution he swore to uphold by not holding local government Elections since 1997. Whatever the reasons it was not held is irrelevant, since it was he as the Minister of local Government who was mandated by the constitution to hold Local Government elections and he has not done it for nearly 7 years. That makes him a law breaker!

   These IMC's are bad news I have in my possession some documents which concerns one Charles Roberts a sergeant of the constabulary of the Rose Hall town, who was appointed by the town council before Collymore put an IMC in place there, and without going into too much detail since this matter has now entered legal circles, Collymore may have dismissed this man illegally and unconstitutionally, he may have lied in his letter to Roberts dismissing him by telling him in writing that at a meeting of the IMC which had been convened on a certain date it was recommended to him that the man be dismissed, in fact there is evidence that no such meeting ever took place, and after looking over the documentation sent to me I have no question in my mind that Collymore concocted an IMC meeting which never occurred, and took actions to dismiss Roberts based on decisions which in fact the IMC did not make. And that makes him devious! This is the kind of person we have in this country holding high office! I started this commentary by accusing Collymore of being lawless and devious, I expect that some people would have been outraged by that, but I think that I have made my point.     

    If only two members are functioning in our Neighbourhood Council why can't the PPP nominate 11 new members in accordance with their seats at the last democratic elections and the independent political group nominate their 4 new members and let the business of the neighbourhood council continue without putting in place an entity which will be perceived to be representing the interest of only one group and would probably lead to more racial strife, which we certainly don't need in Guyana today.

  Incredibly on inquiring who this Ramraj was, who was alleging that he wrote this letter of complaint which was signed by 40 odd people, I discovered that among the people who do not pay their rates and taxes, he and his brothers who own rice lands at Goed Fortuin owe the Meerzorgen Malgretoute neighbourhood council nearly 5 million dollars but he is still complaining that things are not right. If I owed this huge amount in back taxes I might conspire with Collymore to put a friendly IMC in place myself. But then again, probably not!