‘We will fight a hard campaign’
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Bharrat Jagdeo
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Bharrat Jagdeo

–PPP/C plans to contest in all Local Authority Areas; confident of track record of progress, delivering betterment, Jagdeo announces
–as uncertainty looms in opposition’s camp

CONFIDENT of its track record, the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) is promising a robust campaign, and a determined fight at this year’s Local Government Elections (LGE), for which the party plans to contest in all of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAA) across the country.

During a press conference at the party’s headquarters, Freedom House, on Thursday, PPP/C General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo said that the party is in the final stages of putting together its list of candidates for the LGE, with plans to launch its campaign early next month.

According to Jagdeo, the party has been seeing a huge influx of persons wanting to join ahead of the LGE, and as such, is not only confident of its chances in its customary strongholds, but is optimistic of even making inroads in some of the opposition’s hotspots.

“We will fight a hard campaign in every single one of these areas. There are some areas where we have never won, and we are hoping, politically, that the people will give us an opportunity to prove we can,” Jagdeo said.

He highlighted that Georgetown is one local government organ that the party has its eyes on. Georgetown’s Mayor and City Council (MCC) has historically been controlled by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), and is currently under the control of the PNCR’s cognate, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

However, the state of the city under the PNCR’s unbroken management continues to get called into question time and time again, as Georgetown continues to descend into an increasingly deplorable state.

Over the years, the garbage situation in Georgetown has worsened, reaching crisis levels in numerous instances, while the Council has also failed to deliver in line with its responsibility of taking care of the city’s roadways and drainage systems.

Mismanagement of the municipality’s funds has become commonplace, with the lack of accountability and transparency at City Hall making it impractical for Central Government to be able to continue to directly hand over money to the municipality.

The city’s citizenry continues to become increasingly disenchanted with the PNCR’s management, which has seen the PPP/C increasing its members on the municipality’s 30-seat Council.

According to Jagdeo, should Georgetown citizens put their trust in the PPP/C, they can expect greater accountability at the City Council, and better stewardship of the municipality’s funds, which would support an increased flow of revenue.

“Right now there’s no accountability there; you give them money for one thing, and they spend it on something else,” Jagdeo lamented.

With the PPP/C having gained increasing support at successive LGEs since 2016, Jagdeo was very upbeat on Thursday as he discussed his party’s chances at this year’s LGE.

The party, despite its confidence, will not be taking an easy win for granted, and is still looking to hit the ground running during this campaign season.

“We are not one to gloat about what likely outcomes will be; we believe in working hard for all of these communities. Our biggest concern is complacency in the party.

People believe that we will win the elections already, [there are] some areas where there is no other party contesting. But turnout at Local Government Elections has always been a factor in the elections. But no doubt the PPP will do well in these elections,” Jagdeo said.

The PPP/C’s optimism is also supported by the continued state of uncertainty brewing over the PNCR’s plans for the LGE. Earlier on Thursday, at a virtual press conference held by Leader of the PNCR, Aubrey Norton, the party continued to be cryptic about its plans.

“Norton said they’re working on a dual approach. The ambiguity is not because it’s a strategic thing it’s because of the difficulty they’re facing on the ground to put together their lists. In 2018, they spent tons of state money, had entire state media at their disposal, and still couldn’t contest every part. We contested in every single local government body [in 2018] and we intend to do the same again,” Jagdeo affirmed.

He sees this as the PNCR clutching at straws to gain support for the upcoming polls, and has turned to old tactics of resuscitating the party’s oldest members to rally support.

“If you go back and look at the history of Guyana around elections season they all become active. They live in a historical era of being not just complainers, but a history of anti-national sentiments. They are jealous of young people inheriting this country because they live life in bitterness, they don’t want to see the progress. They lack integrity,” Jagdeo said.

The LGE has been set for June 12, with Nominations Day, the day the parties officially catalogue their candidates, being set for April 12. The LGEs are open to all political parties as well as independent candidates who can contest individual constituencies within LAAs.

According to Jagdeo, similar to the PPP/C’s 2018 approach in as much as possible, the party will be looking to source 50 per cent of its candidates from the party’s civic component.

“A lot of ppl want to be part of the civic component. They can be accommodated… our model is a big model,” Jagdeo said.

The civic component of the party refers to persons who do not have membership cards with the party, but believes in the party’s principles, align with what they stand for and they want to contribute to the communities.

The PPP/C has over 80 clusters or groups across the country, which are fielding the suggestions of candidates that will be submitted by the party for the respective LAAs.

Jagdeo said that some names are still being finalised; however, the clusters were already given specific criteria to guide what to look for in determining who will be the candidate.

He highlighted that one instruction that has been given is that persons looking to contest will be barred from bidding for contracts in their LAA.

“We gave each of the clusters a list of criteria that the party would like to see in the candidates. One of the criteria is that they will not be able to tender for contracts in the area in which they are councilors. We’ve had instances in the past where we found councilors tendering for contracts in their own NDC or municipalities so that is a prohibition now. But you can tender anywhere else,” Jagdeo said.

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