Fixing what’s broke…


…in local govt

Brian Hunt, up to recently Deputy Head of Mission at the US Embassy, took the time to deliver some home truths to the political players in Guyana just as he departed our shores. As one who was involved in almost every political initiative during the three years…one can safely say his opinions were “informed”. In his sweeping desiderata for Guyana, he advised “decentralisation” of the powers of central government.

Was he…gasp!!…calling for “Federalism”?? Wasn’t that what those discredited troublemakers from ROAR were calling for until they were blue in the face? They’d sounded like the fella from yore who was crying in the wilderness for years about “one who was to come”. Was Brian that “one”?

After all, we’ve just had the first Local Government Elections in Guyana in 23 years. And this was what both sets of politicians (forget about the AFC – they’re dead as a Dodo) had been swearing would deliver “decentralisation”, nuh? So, surely Hunt couldn’t be talking about that arrangement, since he’d been intimately involved in getting that consummated.

Naaah! Even in the short time since the elections, Hunt had ample time to figure out that nothing substantive will change in the distribution of power under the present arrangements. Just look how Georgetown’s Town Clerk – a creature of the Minister of Communities – has been throwing his weight around. And all the ELECTED local councilmen and councilwomen’s opinion hasn’t been worth a bucket of warm spit! Notwithstanding his title, the Minister of “Communities” is still a part of CENTRAL Government – where ALL powers still reside.

Another clue on change would’ve been the “Local Govt Commission” that was supposed to change the locus of power away from the Minister of Communities into the hands of the members of the Commission. This is now supposed to be in place by next month. But what exactly will change? The Minister of Communities is appointed by the President – and so will the MAJORITY of the members of the Local Government Commission! As we say in Guyana, it’s six of one or half a dozen of the other!!

So, we return to what looks like Hunt’s cryptic endorsement of Federalism for Guyana. You see, Hunt, like all Americans, understood “decentralisation” to mean “federalism” for 240 years. That is from America’s birth in 1776. Hunt knows that only in “federalism” are the powers of the local organs of Government enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution spells out the specific powers of every level of government.

And if anyone from “above” tries to stick their nose where it doesn’t belong…the courts can cut it off!

Off with their noses!!

…in education?

The Learning Channel was a wonderful innovation the last administration introduced to utilise modern telecommunications technology to deliver our education curriculum to our students in the far-flung hinterland. And as a bonus to this on the coast. The TV part wasn’t that new…but the transmission certainly was. “Uplinking” and “downlinking” signals made it seem as if we’d caught up with the Star Trek generation of “Beam me up, Scotty!”

But one thing the PPP didn’t do was to use the channel to peddle Government propaganda. And let’s not get into that tedious discussion to parse the difference between “propaganda” and “information”, bottom line is , the name “Learning Channel” describes perfectly what the initiative is all about. For our children to be assisted in “learning” their schoolwork.

Did the Minister of Education agree to this subversion of his responsibility to shape our youngsters’ pliant minds?

But more to the point, didn’t the Ministry of Information learn anything from their attempt at subverting the Chronic?

…in governance

The phrase “abolishing winner-takes-all politics” has been around even longer than this country’s been independent. So why hasn’t it been put into place yet?

Because some folks aren’t convinced they won’t then “lose corn and lose husk”!