Citing continued failures and shortcomings in the management of the Regional Democratic Council’s affairs, the Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillors on the Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) RDC have expressed their lack of confidence in the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) elected Chairman, Captain Daniel Seeram, and Vice Chairman, Samuel Sandy.
Last week, the AFC representatives on the RDC laid formal notices of “No Confidence” in the Region Four Chairman and Vice Chairman.
However, the AFC said during a statutory meeting on Thursday, the acting Chair disallowed a reading of the motions on the grounds that the office of the Chairman was not served with a copy of the motions nor did they conform to the stipulated timeline.
Notwithstanding disagreement on the interpretation of the acting Chair, the AFC said in a subsequent statement on Thursday that its Councillors would seek to remedy these defects and table the motions at the next statutory meeting of the RDC.
Despite the APNU/AFC being elected leaders in September 2020 to manage the affairs of Region Four – Guyana’s largest region, the minority party in the Opposition coalition pointed out that several issues have persisted over a year later and this highlighted the fault lines within the Council and its ability to discharge responsibilities to serve the communities in the key geographical region.
“The AFC Councillors have highlighted several grave concerns including the suspension of the Regional Administration of Committee meetings without any word to Councillors which has created chaos and information short flows frustrating the work of the Council and causing the Council to move a motion for its reinstatement,” the statement from the party detailed.
According to the AFC, the alienation and exclusion of its representatives by the Chair, who is a former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) member, is evident in the fact that he currently holds Chairmanship of key committees including the Tourism Committee, which to date has never met.
Moreover, it was noted that Seeram is currently the sole representative on the Sea Defence Board of the Public Works Ministry; the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA); the Board of the Agriculture Ministry and the COVID Task Force of the Office of the Prime Minister.
“This action deviates from the historical norm of sharing these positions with other Councillors and the spirit of partnership which is fundamental to the APNU+AFC coalition. It is necessary to note that the Personnel and Human Resource Management Committee also has not met for over eight months… Among other issues, this has resulted in 14 healthcare workers’ contracts not been renewed and two nurses not being paid for several months,” the AFC highlighted.
It was also outlined that the deterioration of the relationship between the Region Four Chairman and his Vice Chair on matters of principled approach and operations, which permeates every statutory meeting, is a major source of discord that impacts negatively on the ability of the Council to function effectively.
Currently, these deficiencies have resulted in several contractors not being paid for close to six months owing to the failure of the Vice Chair in convening meetings and signing off requests in a timely manner. As a result, employees of these contractors are not being paid.
“AFC Region [Four] Councillors recognise that these fundamental differences in approach and operations make it difficult for the citizens of our most populous region to receive optimal services given the current structural differences which must be solved urgently…
The Alliance For Change is keenly aware that its primary obligation is to serve the people of all communities in Guyana and to identify a progressive path that ensures the provision of better services to the residents of Region [Four],” the missive on Thursday detailed.
The AFC’s motions of no-confidence in the APNU RDC leaders come against the backdrop of a falling-out between the two coalition parties over the election of the Region Four Chairman and Vice Chairman last September.
Based on agreements between the two coalition partners, the AFC would get the Vice Chair positions in Regions Four and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
AFC had nominated Neilson McKenzie for the Vice Chairman position, while APNU nominated Samuel Sandy and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) nominated Desmond Morian.
Voting was along party lines, as APNU and PPP cast their 14 votes each for their candidates and the AFC, with its five votes, backed McKenzie.
However, the APNU-elected Chairman, Seeram, used his deciding vote to elect Sandy instead of AFC’s candidate.
AFC General Secretary David Patterson, who had helped craft the agreement, had subsequently resigned over the breach of the agreement by the APNU, which has a history of infringements against its smaller coalition partner.