Friday, August 25, 2006

SASOD Endorses Civil Society Committment to Good Governance

Members of the organizations listed below wish to record our disappointment that once again we are approaching general elections without the long-promised constitutional and electoral reforms in place which would make them secure and meaningful. Creation of appropriate electoral constituencies, equal representation of women with men and a candidates’ list which allows voters to know clearly for whom one is voting, are some examples of agreed reforms. Rather than usher in a new and dynamic democracy, elections under our system are a discredited and demeaning ritual.

A related source of disappointment is the seeming willingness of the diplomatic and donor community to travel the same road in spite of their own analysis of the need for implementation of the promised reforms. Calls for peaceful behaviour would be more convincing if accompanied by acknowledgement that the electorate has been short-changed with respect to reforms. Citizens are not prone to electoral violence by coincidence, but by repeated failure of political leadership in general to deliver on their promises.

Pinning hope for change on third party politics rather than constitutional and electoral reform has created a belated need for a flurry of programmes to pacify frustrated citizens, as if they, rather than bankrupt political systems, are the cause of Guyana’s problems.

Failure to implement electoral laws is symptomatic of the broader governance experience of the past four decades. Reforms widely agreed as necessary with respect to the Constitution, the economy, development, the hinterland, the justice system and a host of other pressing needs remain uncompleted from one year to the next and one generation to the next.

However, criticism of the past performance of others should not deflect from, nor excuse our own failures in the civic sector to engage more effectively and consistently in governance processes in our local communities and at the national level.

A first step in correcting this malaise, therefore, is directed to civic, religious, professional, philanthropic, community-based, trade union and cultural organisations to assume greater responsibility for the quality of democracy, development and well-being of our own society. Following this commitment, a process of full consultation among all signatories on the way forward will be set in train. This commitment is inspired by Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution which states:

“The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”

While committing our organizations to encourage the peaceful resolution of the up-coming election, we do so in a spirit of making it the last to be held under a political and electoral system so demeaning and undignified.

African Cultural Development Association, Airy Hall Development Group E'bo, Amerindian Peoples Association, Anglican Church in Guyana, Ann's Grove Development Committee ECD, Ann's Grove Football Team #2 ECD, Ann's Grove Line Star United Football Club Britannia Jamaat ECD, Church Women United -EBD, Church Women United - Guyana Community Based Rehab-EBD, Common Ground

Cullen Women & Youth Development, E'bo, DeWillem Community Council ECD, Guyana Association for the Visually Impaired, Ebenezer Youth Fellowship WCD, General Workers Union, Guyana Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, Guyana Citizens Initiative, Guyana Human Rights Association, Guyana Council of Churches, Guyana Trades Union Congress, Help & Shelter, National AIDS Committee

Pomona Women & Youth Reaching Out, E'bo, Red Thread, Rights of Children (ROC), Spring Garden Mandir, E'bo, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, St. Ann's Orphanage, Sunflower Women & Youth Group, Essequibo, Station Road Tuschen Jamaat WCD, Two Friends Dutch Four Community Group, Tuschen Old Road Jamaat WCD

Uitvlugt Ocean View Jamaat WCD, Uitvlugt Pasture Jamaat WCD, Ursuline Sisters in Guyana, Vilvoorden Women's Group E'bo

YMCA - Albouystown, Zeeburg Jamaat E'bo