Guyana on the move

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OVER the last three years there appeared to be the unfolding of a silent revolution in the Republic of Guyana. A revolution is usually characterised by sudden, radical and sometimes violent changes. But, in Guyana, there is the creation of a new social order that is soft or gradual which is changing the way that the state is governed.

Since May 2015, we witnessed comity in how the executive, legislature and judiciary function. This is a classic case of a break from the past where the separation of powers was undermined. Now, Guyana can say with confidence that the financial independence of the legislature and judiciary has been guaranteed.

The silent revolution is changing the nature of the media, which are open and free, and freedom of speech, association and assembly have been restored. Over this period, new local government elections were held after over two decades. And the legal architecture has been built to allow credible procurement, lawful financial transactions with clean money and the acquisition of assets by legitimate means. The silent revolution is clearing the stream of business and justice of corrupt practices and influences. Violators, even in law enforcement agencies, have been placed on alert that there is zero tolerance for bribery, fraud and ‘shake-downs’.

The clout of the narco-underworld, that had once extended to law enforcement via ‘death squads’ and summary executions, has been trimmed though not totally eliminated. Armed bandits, who once had unrestricted and unrestrained rampage, are on the run. And pirates, who once harassed our fisherfolks, are on the radar of our security forces which regularly patrol our sea coast and riverine areas.

When this government took office, it was at a point where citizens felt that the previous government had mismanaged the economy and there was growing contempt for citizens by top officials. This was a period of rampant corruption, death and phantom squads, during which a Minister of Home Affairs was fingered and said if he had to do it all over again, he would. Hundreds of dead bodies were dumped around the country and the Coroner’s Act was not activated.

Georgetown, once proudly known as the Garden City became the garbage city. The City Council became a pawn of an ugly politics that saw central government withholding its financial obligations for its buildings. Then Local Government Minister, Kellawan Lall boldly announced that he would be glad if the city suffers a health crisis. There was no regard for the structures or management of government. Regional and neighbourhood democratic councils not controlled by the PPP/C saw discrimination in budgetary allocation and move to undermine, break up the councils, or impose Interim Management Committee. Freedom of speech, including dissent and protest, and respect for the role of independent media were assaulted. However, the silent revolution is reflected in the orderly and law-abiding processes everywhere in Guyana, where leaders are required to observe respect for accountability and transparency in the execution of their official functions. The silent revolution is shaping anew public buildings, open spaces and our infrastructure. There have been critics, some arguing that there have been too few and too late, but they cannot deny that Guyana, once again, is on the move.