Stabroek News. September 20, 2009. Editorial | 18 Comments
So finally the President has shown the ruling party’s hand. The citizens of Georgetown have to endure the piles of refuse and the serious health hazard that these represent, because the denizens of Freedom House or the Office of the President or both want an excuse to impose an Interim Management Committee on the capital. The theory is that by demonstrating that the Mayor and City Council can’t manage the city, we would all be amenable to an IMC, which would then proceed to clean up GT – backed by ample resources from the central government, of course. After that out of gratitude, we would all traipse cheerfully to the local government polls and vote for a PPP council.
On Friday the President called a sudden press conference in which he said that if PNCR Leader Robert Corbin agreed, an IMC could be in place “tomorrow.” Technically, he doesn’t need the PNCR’s agreement; it’s just that Georgetown has not traditionally been a PPP preserve, and the party does not want to be accused of acting in authoritarian mode. Perhaps they feel that Mr Corbin may be ready to co-operate with them at this point, as he did in the case of Linden, where he acceded to the removal of the town council and the installation of an IMC. The fly in this particular ointment, of course, is that Mayor Hamilton Green now sits as a member of the central executive of the PNCR, so it is difficult to see Mr Corbin abandoning his senior party colleague for Mr Jagdeo.
It is true that Georgetown had an IMC once before, but that was prior to the 1994 elections. It must be noted too that despite the fact that this PPP/C committee cleaned up the city with some vigour, courtesy of funds from the central administration, it did not have much of an impact on the voting habits of the residents.
Two things about the current situation bear repeating: the first is that the M&CC has very little power under the law, and the second is that the city’s revenue base is too slender to allow the municipal authorities to discharge their functions adequately. While the government has spent the last fifteen years blaming the council for the capital’s shortcomings, as was said last week the person with the most power in relation to the municipality is not the Mayor, but the Minister of Local Government.
This has even been acknowledged by government spokesmen, although not directly in relation to Georgetown. In a letter in our newspaper published on August 22 this year from Mr Clinton Collymore, it was stated: “Minister Lall in his capacity of Local Government Minister is by the very nature of his office, already in full control of every single NDC in Guyana… This total control is by virtue of laws passed by the dictatorial PNC regime in the 1969-73 period, when Burnham ruled.” While he is talking of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils here, with some qualifications it applies to municipal authorities as well.
While the council prepares the budget, and has oversight committees, it does not actually handle the money or have any direct control over the municipality’s senior officers. Power in relation to the latter lies with the Minister of Local Government, who is the only one who can suspend or fire the top officials if they are not performing or if they are corrupt. The Mayor has no authority to discipline the senior staff. This has enabled the President in the past to bypass the Mayor et al, and just deal with the Town Clerk and senior officials directly when he has wanted some project carried out. And for all the government’s complaints about inefficiency and corruption at City Hall, it took years before it exercised its considerable powers and moved to do anything about it.
This is not to suggest that the M&CC is blameless, or that given more authority it would discharge its duties more competently; it would not. It is simply to recognize that its ability to act is severely circumscribed, and that in critical areas Minister Lall has more leverage in city affairs than does the Mayor.
We will repeat too what we said last week about financial resources; the M&CC does not have sufficient revenue to carry out its functions. In a sense that was by implication conceded by the President on Friday when he listed all the things the government had paid for in the past. Even if the council was the most efficient body in the hemisphere, it still would not have enough funds to run the city. (The rates are too low, and as elaborated on last week, there is no effective sanction now against defaulting ratepayers.) Mr Jagdeo’s present grouse (excuse?) seems to be that the council has been given money by central government to cut the grass and it cannot even do that properly. But that is irrelevant to the present crisis, which, as everyone knows, has come about because the M&CC cannot pay its contractors to remove the garbage.
So we have a situation where central government habitually allows crises to develop (it likes the garbage ones best, for obvious reasons), then complains about corruption or incompetence or inefficiency at City Hall, before stepping in eventually to ‘save’ the citizenry. However, to put the health of residents at risk for as long as two weeks for the sake of a political advantage appears extraordinarily cynical.
Since the aim of the latest drama is to install an IMC, one can reasonably conclude that the ruling party would want it in place for long enough to demonstrate the wonder of its works. As such, therefore, it is also reasonable to conclude that contrary to all its protestations that it wants local government elections held soon, it may not at all be averse to a delay. The government holds the election purse strings, for example, and it has not yet explained why De la Rue, which had been contracted to produce the ID cards was not paid until June 11 (it needed 90% up front), when it was known that the period of production was four months. There were other delays too, which could not all be placed at the door of Gecom.
Could it be that what it really wants is for local government elections to take place at the same time as national elections? If so, it should come out in the open and say so, and let the matter be debated publicly in a rational way.
At the time of writing it was not known what the President offered in his meeting with Deputy Mayor Robert Williams and city officials yesterday. One can only hope that he will indeed spare a thought for the health of those who have to live in the capital and come to some arrangement to solve the immediate crisis. As for the longer term, something else needs to be in place, and that something is not an IMC. Hopefully, Mr Corbin will see the current ruling party manoeuvres to get a management committee installed for what they are – a form of blackmail.
Finally, the President’s refusal to include the Mayor in his meeting with the city officials does him no credit. It doesn’t matter what he thinks of Mr Green the man, as head of state he is required to show the office of Mayor public respect.
18 Comments (Open | Close)
18 Comments To "Blackmail"
#1 Comment By Marc(Welcome to the Garden City) On September 20, 2009 @ 7:40 am
Editor:I guess you love your garbage so much that its starting to manifest in your editorial.The city stinks and it is the responibility of the M&CC to keep it clean so stop putting a political spin on this stinking affair,the city is being cleaned up at present thanks to the Presidential intervention and thats what matters.This “Garbage City” affair is about incompetence and not about votes.The IMC works,you yourself said so in this article.
#2 Comment By LIND On September 20, 2009 @ 9:22 am
HAVE THE LOCAL GOVT ELECTIONS. THAT IS WHAT JAGDEO AND THE PPP ARE AFRAID OF ..HAMILTON GREENE WILL WIN THE MAYORSHIP AGAIN…IMC SHOULD BE PUT IN PLACE FOR THE CENTRAL GOVT BECAUSE OF CORRUPTION /OPPRESSION/ DISCRIMINATION/ROGER KHAN/ EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS/TORTURE/CLICO /NIS/DOLPHIN SCANDAL/LINDO CREEK/DRUG DEALING BARONS AND SEXUAL PREDATORS THAT ARE IN HIGH PLACES…THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND IT IS A VALID REASON FOR AN IMC TO REPLACE THE PRESENT CABAL.
#3 Comment By Sase Singh On September 20, 2009 @ 9:23 am
I really enjoy these “focused and factual” editorials on Sundays. Bharat Jagdeo created Mayor Green and tolerated him all these years so why all of a sudden, Mayor Green is bad. Mayor Green is a creature of Jagdeo. If Jgdeo was serious about Georgetown, he would have dispensed the services of Hamiton Green since then, why now?
All the iniatives at fund raising y City Hall were ignored by The President. THIS IS LIVE BHARAT JAGDEO – SQUEEZE YOUR POCKET AND THEN CRITICISE YOU. He did it to so many PPP cadres.
His turn will come when he does not have control of the purse string of Guyana and PPP anymore and his turn will come when the PPP will put him out in the pasture to dry out and then he would really feel the true impact of how he has inconvenience thousands for his personal agradisment.
This is exactly how Stalin operated in the Soviet Union.
He will instruct officials to go after Ramjattan, Trotman, et all but he will never send them by Corbin because he is the biggest fan of Corbin. Jagdeo without the PNC is nothing. He has a vested interest in preserving the PNC. Look out AFC, over the next 2 years, you will be under the microscope and you will feel the full brunt of the state. Police will be used against you, other officials will be used against you, you will be taken to court for libel, slander. The same will be done to Stabroek and Kaietuer News. It all in the book Hegemony or Survival.
It sicken me on how messed up these people are. I pray for 2011 to come fast so that we can a stable head like Luncheon or Ramkarran as our head of state. Time is up for the petty minded in charge, it is time for real men to take charge of Guyana.
#4 Comment By Raj On September 20, 2009 @ 10:05 am
Congrats SN. This is one of your better article. Move this quality of writing to your news section and Guyana will grow into a better society.
#5 Comment By Stakeholder On September 20, 2009 @ 10:26 am
Great editorial. What might also be in the mind of the President and his strategists is that the Georgetown garbage situation would not play too well in the international arena where the President is proud of the recognition he is getting as an environmental steward. Of course the folks in the international arena are not aware of the corruption, discrimination and dictatorial behavior over which the president presides at home.
#6 Comment By Marc(Clean City By Presidential Decree) On September 20, 2009 @ 11:24 am
Stop being bitter, the President has finally learned to be the type of leader the lawless Guyanes people deserve.Being strong like Burnham is the only way things can get done in Guyana.
#7 Comment By George Bell On September 20, 2009 @ 1:13 pm
Why don’t you tell everyone, why you are so bitter. You are probably the only person who has ever actually applied for the job as Minister of Finance. You sent in CV and references. Because you did not get the job, now PPP bad. You are delusional. Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping that your enemy dies.
#8 Comment By SKY On September 20, 2009 @ 3:13 pm
Great editorial and also great comments (mostly).
#9 Comment By Danny DeAbru On September 20, 2009 @ 4:52 pm
BLACKMAIL! Nothing in this article adds up to blackmail.Political strategies.GT needs a ‘cake shop’ government,then all the persons who are not satisfied & has easy access to air their discontentment would be happy.The mayor has no shame.
#10 Comment By yasuman71 On September 20, 2009 @ 6:09 pm
Marc, please don’t start another Bastille Day here. We may not always agree with the SN editor, but we must show decorum in return for the forum only SN has generously given us.
Citizen Marc, redirect thy lance to there brawling Brandon!
#11 Comment By L. C. Lee On September 20, 2009 @ 6:48 pm
I am so sorry for us, our president is prepared to gamble with our lives to achieve political “success.” This is why Guyanese are disrespected at airports around the world, we have and continue to degrade ourselves.
#12 Comment By Keck and Kwence On September 20, 2009 @ 7:10 pm
Very brave editorial; thanks for call it like you see it. The actions of the “imperial president” and the PPP cabal is blackmail pure and simple.
#13 Comment By Berbician On September 20, 2009 @ 7:33 pm
I spent 3 weeks in Guyana last month,the STENCH in the CAPITAL Georgetown was most disgusting!!
Surprisingly the residents are oblivious to the stench.The cleanest drain in the city is in front of City Hall,yet the canal on the avenue of the Republic has about 8 feet of silt inside.
Your Editor in chief considers it blackmail when Govt ask for changes in return for help,this only confirms what is already known,
that is,stench in the capital in good for BIG Business.
#14 Comment By michael tannassee On September 20, 2009 @ 8:12 pm
….burnham was only strong as green an de police an de army mek ‘e ! beyond dat he was just de regulah thug dat he was ,,
ah hare dem seh ,, dat yuh can duh as much as yuh like ,, but nat as lang as yuh like ,, caz if to anyone anything dem doin is nat enuff dem ,, “time” is clearly nat pon dem side ! caz all good things must come to an end !……. aks burnham he gon tell yuh !…..
#15 Comment By Cochore On September 20, 2009 @ 8:24 pm
Excellent analysis here Stabroek News, thank you very much for laying out the pertinent facts in a time line about the complicated relationship between the Central gov’t and the City/Local gov’t.
Very fair and very balance in identifying the strategic moves of a cunning leadership, who deliberately implement childish schemes to game the Georgetown citizenry into voting for them at election time. This is cheap politicking at the expense of a Public Health disaster.
Once again great job Ndugu, however, I think that another interesting topic to explore in an editorial would be to figure out how one elected public servant decides in public that he does not want to work with another duly elected public servant for the benefit of the electorate. What is the protocol, relationships and responsibilities for diplomacy and cooperation between elected Public Servants, if any at all.
#16 Comment By Sase Singh On September 21, 2009 @ 2:04 am
Dear George Bell:
If you read carefully my article. I never said the PPP is bad. I still believe that the PPP will get the largest chunk of votes come 2011 and the best the AFC can do now is to work hard to become the main opposition.
The problem in Guyana is not the old head in the PPP like the Luncheon’s and the Ramkarran, it is the inexperience political tactics that is making the Government look foolish. I am convinced that the older head are waiting out this period of tribulation.
Now let me put a myth to rest. A lie repeat a million time will become a truth for some people and your statements are a blatant lie that I applied with CV for Minister wuk. In my books people like Rajendra Rampersaud were more qualified than me politically and worked more with Dr Jagan to understand what he wanted. For me, Rajendra Rampersaud should have been the Minister of Finance ages ago.
I am not bitter, I am disgusted by the waste of time and money that is currently occuring. I saw Cheddi Jagan worked, I know what the PPP is capable of and thus I am disgusted that all that great potential is being put to waste. You have a situation where Guyana is no longer important to the leading cabal, it is all about friends and family.
This is why I am disgusted because country is not being put first. The minute Guyana is put first, then I will fade away since I am very happy with my current life and do not need any Minister wuk to secure self satisfaction. But until this cabal continue to play games with every little aspect of Guyana for their personal agrandisment, I will write and it is affect them becuase what they are doing is wrong. They will hide and write foolishness under phantom names like George but I always remember a saying that Jagdeo said to Ramjattan, when you come to crab march you must get mud on your skin. What George and the other do not know, I am immune from the mud.
#17 Comment By Sase Singh On September 21, 2009 @ 2:14 am
you raise a very ethical point. The people of GT elected Green (my views on Green and the PNC is public knowledge) and thus until the people elect another Mayor, he is the duly recognised Mayor.
How does it work when one elected official refuse to work with another elected official at the expense of the citizens of the city?
This is quite an interesting concept? Please note this is not the first time that the city is allowed to stink and then some political gransatanding is done. It will be done again so look out for another stinking session next year.
#18 Comment By amenra[jackass seh de wurl na level] On September 21, 2009 @ 5:33 pm
Stakeholder they know now, because we were there protesting him, you can see the shame and embarrassment on his face, we had our placards and we highlighted all the attrocities that is taking place under his watch.
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