If you believe the rhetoric in the dailies, from the letters’ pages to their page 3 coverage, you’d think it’s the dawning of “the age of electoral reform”. Everybody and their uncle want it. Trouble is, the “it” isn’t singular, but multitudinous…and that’s where the “trouble” becomes real, not just a figure of speech!! Now, maybe you can’t blame folks for thinking like this after the stunt the PNC under Granger tried to pull over by Ashmin’s last year.
But, frankly, while your Eyewitness thinks electoral change may be necessary, he firmly believes it’s not sufficient to fix what ails our body politic. Take, for instance, GECOM itself, which consists of a Commission and a Secretariat. Some argue that the Carter Formula of having 3 Commissioners selected by the Govt and 3 by the Opposition guarantees deadlock. But what’s the alternative? Public Servants, like in India, thought not!! We pick folks from “Civil Society”.
Do the Guyanese people have any confidence in these self-selected and self-appointed folks who believe they know better than the rest of the masses? Who vets them? Who says they won’t be as biased as the political Commissioners? At least with THEM, we’re dealing with known quantities – plus the buy-in of the political parties who’re vying for power!
The Carter Formula, after all, does have a tiebreaker to the built-in deadlock in the form of the Chair. At least it should theoretically be easier for the parties to decide on the bona fides of one person, rather than seven!! Theoretically! Cause we saw the struggle over the selection of the last Chair, didn’t we? And we’re getting to the heart of the matter. The Heart of Darkness, so to speak!
Granger absolutely refused to acknowledge the spirit of the Carter Formula – which is to try to select someone who’s least objectionable to one’s partisan interest. And as such, hopefully, would best serve the national interest. But Granger showed that he is irremediably inflexible when it comes to compromises – it’s either the PNC way or the Highway! So, your Eyewitness doesn’t see any real resolution on the composition of the GECOM Commission.
So on to the Secretariat. Here we saw the same challenge posed above playing out at another level with the hired help. To wit, how to prevent bias in the said help performing their duties on Election Day and afterwards. In a country as polarised as Guyana, there’s no screening process that’s gonna separate the (PPP) wheat from the (PNC) chaff.
And we know that by the question in your mind, dear reader. Why did your Eyewitness write (PPP) wheat and not (PNC) wheat!!
The divisions go THAT deep!
Yeah, even more than electoral change, everyone wants Justice. But, also, like electoral change, everyone has their own idea of the Justice they want – the one that benefits THEM!! Take Granger’s statement that he doesn’t believe the CCJ should have final judicial review over our election-related disputes. Notice that he doesn’t mind all other matters – criminal and civil – over which the CCJ has appellate jurisdiction. They can decide, for instance, on the most arcane matter concerning our almost unique Roman Dutch law in land (only South Africa shares it with us!) but not elections?
So what’s unique about our electoral law that the CCJ can’t pass muster? That esoteric mathematical principle that insists 33 isn’t the majority of 65 as the PNC proposes? Ah…we’re getting to the nub of the matter, aren’t we? The PNC and their “Highway” rule!! But there’s another even more insidious implication to Granger’s declaration: that the Appellate Court of Guyana will see things electoral the PNC away!
And that’s not exactly an endorsement for our judiciary, is it?
There’s gonna be a webinar on Fintech. So, what’s “Fintech”? Well, as a combination of “finance” and “technology”, you get the idea?
Maybe they’ll suggest Banks quit asking for envelopes as proof of address?