Home Letters Unilateralism in clear disregard for some GECOM Commissioners
The David Granger-led APNU/AFC coalition is continuing with the dodging manoeuvres, as they try desperately to delay the inevitable and urgent Regional and National Elections. So too, is the inclined Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which seems to be unable to disassociate itself from the sleightful hands and ‘game playing’ influences left by the now removed Chairman, Ret’d Justice James Patterson.
Recently, public notices revealed that GECOM Secretariat secretly revised several Registration Divisions around the country. Suddenly appearing in the Guyana Official Gazette are several GECOM Orders under the hands of James Patterson. In particular, Order Number 15 of 2019 dated May 15, 2019; Order Number 24 of 2019 dated June 13, 2019, and Order Number 25 of 2019 dated June 14, 2019, seek to inform of a move by the Commission to sub-divide several long-standing and well-established electoral Divisions. It is of significance that GECOM operated these areas unchanged for decades, and these matters were never discussed in the meetings of the Commission.
The grave consequences of such unilateralism in clear disregard for at least some Commissioners, emphasises the sinister and lack of a transparent approach in Patterson’s biased behaviour. The man had been operating as a god unto himself, which is apparent due to the fact that GECOM made these orders well after March 21, 2019, and within the period of the CCJ considerations. It certainly smacks a similar disrespect shown by senior members of the Granger Government and the related or influenced unpardonable sins that the GECOM Secretariat continues to commit.
There were simply no consultations with relevant stakeholders in arriving at these decisions. The situation begs the question: what is the legal basis for these orders, particularly, since James Patterson placed them in the Gazette after December 21, 2018, and subsequent dates. It is imperative that all stakeholders in the upcoming General and Regional Elections have a thorough look at all the registration districts, registration areas, registration divisions and registration sub-divisions.
A careful look at the boundary maps now printed in the Official Gazette compared to what was there for many years is certainly a revelation and a recipe for serious manipulation of the next elections. For example: in the registration district for Region Four or the Demerara-Mahaica region, East Bank, Registration Division 412212 there were four sub-divisions. Namely, A, B, C and D. Currently, the Official Gazette shows additions of two extra sub-divisions with the additional E, and F totalling six sub-divisions in the Mocha /Arcadia area. In Division 412234 there were five sub-divisions 412234 – A, B, C, D, and E, which is now increased to include sub-division F, based on the publication in the Official Gazette.
While these are only two of the numerous changes made around the country, the rippling effects will certainly now create serious questions and deep suspicion of what is taking place at GECOM. The splits are making possibilities of highly questionable gerrymandering. The new developments will lead to the putting together of new lists in all the sub-divisions, in alphabetical order most important is the six-digit number. The lists will have to be reflective of the specific locations and will lead to the difficult task of finding suitable polling places.
Further, it follows that for each polling place, GECOM will have to recruit additional polling day staff, which means extensions into additional training of a substantial amount of new staff. It has been reported that one family member of a big one at GECOM has made public statements of looking for polling day places and that the costs in addition to the ‘drawbacks’ would be very high.
A careful look at the new sub-divisions is also a matter of serious concern, particularly when one looks at security and the locations. Access to some of these locations is worrying as in some instances, people will need 4×4 vehicles to reach. Others would necessitate the use of regular vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, and to move by foot, boat or by air. In one specific area, stakeholders are questioning the situation of ingress and egress, gates, fence, doors along with emergency exits. Some areas are currently without electricity, phones and other needs and amenities, such as water and toilet and washrooms.
The usual squandermania situation at GECOM Secretariat suggests at these specific moves are designed to principally create the framework for the drawbacks, which represents the position, regardless of the numerous audit condemnations. It is all about thievery and profit for the boys and matters not about all of the confusion it creates.
While GECOM is involved in all these new arrangements, the No-Confidence Motion certainly must be followed by elections within ninety days and the Secretariat must not make it unnecessarily strenuous on political parties. The requirements must be in keeping with the arrangements that we had in 2011 and 2015, as the gerrymandering situation is some instances is clearly unacceptable.
Our columnists have observed the less than good faith approach advanced by President Granger in his submission of eight names for inclusion in the considerations for a new Chairman of GECOM. His meanderings even include removed octogenarian James Patterson, which speaks to the callous candour with which the President wants to treat the intelligence of the Guyanese people. Although he and his cabal are showing that they don’t care at all, it is all the more confirmation of the level of untrustworthiness in this cabal. The people of Guyana must remove this cancer from our presence.