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
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!