EYEWITNESS: Missing the point…

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…about sovereignty of the people

One newspaper reported that the Government’s appeal on “the third term case” was coming up in a month, to set a date for the substantive hearings by the CCJ. Your Eyewitness is quite sympathetic to the desire of the popular press for snappy headlines, but, in this case, they’re doing a great disservice to a fundamentally critical point — which should be quite apparent in the times we’re experiencing.

The greatest danger Guyana faces today is the PNC-led Government’s determination to reprise the dark days of the Burnham dictatorship.

What else could Granger mean when you conjoin his actions with his VOW to fulfill the “legacy” of Burnham? And in case some of you, dear readers, are too young to have personally experienced the first iteration of that legacy, just remember Guyana was literally plunged to the bottom of the Caribbean barrel — economically, politically, culturally, and every other “ally” you can think about!

But what is the strongest bulwark against such a dictatorship? An informed citizenry which understands it’s the ultimate possessor of sovereignty and power of its country.

Not the Government officials; they’ve merely been placed in positions of authority to run the state on our behalf. It is “we, the people,” who constitute our governments – but we retain the ultimate power over them.

And how do we know this? Well this is where the case that is coming up before the CCJ comes in. Lots of folks say that since the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, that document is the last word about who’s the boss. Chief Justice Ian Chang — later confirmed by then Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh — pointed out the flaw in that proposition, and why we need to be careful in understanding what’s at stake in front of the CCJ.

The Constitution has clauses that specify how its stipulations can be changed – generally, by votes of varying majorities in the Legislature. And this is what can present a clear and present danger to our freedom. Should the majority in our Parliament — for instance, as happened in Germany with Hitler — pass an “Enabling Act” that gives their party leader the powers to pass laws on his own — in other words, become a “constitutional” dictator?

Chang and Singh said, “NO!” There must be a referendum of the PEOPLE to make changes to what is called “the basic structure/nature” of our Constitution. The “third term” possibility is only the instance – here, the unfettered right of citizens to select their candidates for office — that triggered the fundamental question as to where sovereignty lies.
Power to the people! No dictator!

…on Judicial appointments

Once again, we’re jumping into the morass of making appointments to fill two of the highest offices in the Judiciary. And the problem arises because of our Constitution! On one hand, the “separation of powers” doctrine is undoubtedly part of the basic structure of the Constitution — that the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary should function independently of each other — yet our Constitution gives to the Executive the power to appoint the aforesaid top Judicial officials!!

Art 127 (1) said quite clearly: “the Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.” While everyone gives lip service to the notion that the judicial appointments shouldn’t be “politicised”, it’s useless to debate whether the two abovementioned leaders in the Executive are not being “political” in their choices. And this is why we’ve had the last two incumbents “acting” for over a decade

So how do we break the logjam when Prezzie wants to appoint an Ex-GDF squaddie as Chancellor?
A Judicial Ombudsman?

…on sugar workers’ suicides

After the first two suicides by fired sugar workers, GuySuCo rolled out a “social resilience programme”! Wouldn’t a job programme before the firings have been more humane?
But then, it’s all politics, isn’t it?

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