GPA elections: 10 media houses call for release of voters’ list amid serious concerns over transparency

…GPA cites ‘confidentiality’ in refusal to release list
At least 10 local media organisations have signed a petition calling on the Guyana Press Association (GPA) to release the voters’ list ahead of the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday.
In the petition, which was sent on Thursday, the media houses expressed “serious concerns” about the AGM, which will be held at the Theatre Guild in Kingston, Georgetown, particularly about membership and the voter’s list.
They explained that in the past, it has been the practice of the GPA to register members and collect their dues on the day of elections in cases where dues had not been paid. In cases where new members who met the eligibility criteria to vote, that is, three working years in the media, wished to sign up and pay the required dues, they were allowed to do so. This way all members eligible to vote could only be known on the day of the elections itself.
“This year, the GPA Executive abandoned that convention and set May 6th as the date for the payment of dues for EXISTING members and have said registration of new members will be approved by the new executive. This decision effectively denies membership to many who are working members of the media for three years (and more) and who wish to participate in the elections,” the petition detailed.
To this end, the media houses said in the interest of transparency and accountability and to ensure the integrity of the GPA as well as to eliminate any concerns about the credibility of the list of voters, they called on the GPA Executive to immediately release the list of all members eligible to vote at the elections on May 14.
The current GPA Executive is made up of Nazima Raghubir, who is the incumbent President; Denis Chabrol, Svetlana Marshall-Abrams (Secretary) and Rawle Toney.

Meanwhile, the GPA Executive, in a statement on Thursday, was adamant about not releasing the 110-member voters’ list, claiming that some members have requested confidentiality prior to Sunday’s election.
“The Executive of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) today unanimously reaffirmed that the names of the 110 members who are eligible to vote for office bearers would be made known on Sunday, May 14, 2023 at the General Members Meeting and Elections, by the Returning Officer, Attorney-at-Law Ronald Burch-Smith. This is to preserve the confidentiality of a number of members who have requested that their membership remain confidential prior to the elections,” the missive stated.
According to the GPA, the entire process was discussed ‘openly’ and ‘frankly’ by the Executive and no concerns were raised about the integrity of the process. It was noted too that Raghubir recused herself from the meeting when the names of the eligible voting members were presented to the Executive by the GPA Secretary.
The Association went on to say that “Eligible members shall be allowed to vote in accordance with the GPA’s Constitution for office-bearers to be elected by secret ballot. Every effort has been made to ensure that the elections will be free, fair and transparent. We have invited a number of observers for Sunday’s process”.
The GPA stated that in addition to continuous registration, based on the now more-than-one-month-old notice for the meeting, numerous media workers have completed their registration and updated their dues. It added that a membership drive was conducted and direct visits to media houses were done as well as options for bank transfers and payment by mobile money.
The GPA further pointed out that while biennial elections, which were last held in 2018, were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant restrictions, registration and renewal were always open throughout that period.

Despite this, however, several media workers and media entities have indicated that they were not aware of the membership drive. Moreover, some reporters working in the outlying regions such as Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) have also complained about being unable to clear their dues or being allowed to register in order to vote at Sunday’s AGM.
The 10 media houses that have signed the petition are: Guyana Times; LRTV (Berbice); Info10 (Linden), Guyana Standard; News Room Guyana; National Communications Network; MTV News Update; iNews, TVG (Evening) News and the Guyana Chronicle.