Home Letters Controversial lands CoI straying from gazetted Terms of Reference
The controversial Commission on Lands has commenced public hearings, and it is not surprising that it seems to have strayed from its gazetted Terms of Reference.
The objective of the Commission, as gazetted on March 11, 2017, is: “To examine and make recommendations to resolve all issues and uncertainties surrounding the claims of Amerindian Land titling; the individual, joint or communal ownership of lands acquired by freed Africans; and any other matters relative to land titling in Guyana.”
“AND WHEREAS the status of lands that were purchased by the freed Africans around and after 1839 and formed the first villages in Guyana have not been accessible to their descendants for various reasons. Lands, which were acquired by freed Africans and were the subject of joint or communal ownership or of individual ownership are now subject to much uncertainty.
“AND WHEREAS other matters relative to land titling have arisen and are unresolved…”
Under what rationale is the Head of S.O.C.U. appearing before this Commission? This is the body that is mandated to work with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to address money laundering and the financing of terrorism. What has this got to do with Amerindian and lands purchased by freed Africans, or any other matters relating to land titling?
One expected to see many of the African non-governmental organizations lining up to appear before the Commission with regard to the issues concerning land purchased over 170 years ago. More especially, as the 1980 statute enacted (after the 1980 Constitution) under the PNC government took away the communal lands in those villages and put them under the control of the Regional Democratic Councils, and not under either the Village Councils or the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils. Instead, we have seen the Head of S.O.C.U being the “piece de resistance” before the Commission, waving audit reports!
Clearly, the emerging objective of the CoI is to go on a “red herring fishing” expedition to validate the Government’s witch-hunting agenda. The focus of this CoI appears to be “Pradoville 2” (this name is non-existent on any land record). Having failed so far to go after former President Jagdeo, the Commission is now being used as the conduit for yet another such foray into misinformation and disinformation.
Since the Commission appears to be going on such a “fishing expedition”, l would like to propose that it investigate the lands and properties acquired between 1965 and 1992 under the PNC government. Let us have full disclosure and examination of the lands and properties that that Government and its party officials acquired, for example, the huge piece of land allocated to the PNC Headquarters in Sophia; the land for the former Vice-President and widow of Forbes Burnham in Durban Backlands; the Government-owned property sold for a song to a PNC Minister in Bel Air Gardens; the land that the former Minister and later former Leader of the Opposition and executive member of the PNC owns on the Demerara River; and several other large tracts of land acquired by leading members of the PNC in the areas of Region 10, etc. – just to name some key ones.
And the Commission may also look at lands and properties now being acquired by members of this present Government.
Gail Teixeira, MP