Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 June 2016, 8:22 by Denis Chabrol
Political analyst, Dr. Henry Jeffrey believes that the diverging views of Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan on the intended parking meter project signals a possible rebirth of the Alliance for Change (AFC), at the level of the City Council – a view opposed by Freddie Kissoon.
“It could possibly be a rebirth of the AFC to keep themselves in the process at City Hall,” Jeffrey said.
Other sources have confirmed to Demerara Waves Online News that following the now rescinded resignation of Nigel Hughes from the post of AFC Chairman, a section of that party has been taking very strident positions on local government issues in the City. Hughes has since provided legal representation to a number of Stabroek square businesses, met with vendors to organise them in an association and harshly criticised City Hall for the manner in which the vendors have been booted out of areas where the had been operating for decades.
Going into the 2015 general elections, observers said the AFC had helped to create the perception of mass national unity to unseat the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), but the turnout at AFC public meetings and votes in PPP strongholds was poor. A similar performance was recorded at the Local Government Elections held earlier this year.
Duncan, a member of the AFC – one of the parties in the APNU+AFC coalition – has voiced strong objections to the companies approved to provide parking meter services in Georgetown. The companies are National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions.
However, Mayor Chase-Greene who is a member of APNU has pushed ahead with plans to have the project in operational mode later this year. She is currently leading a team in Mexico, where they are discussing plans related to the project.
Duncan’s position on the issue was subsequently endorsed by fellow AFC member Ruel Johnson, who serves as Cultural Policy Advisor to the Minister of Education.
And with these opposing views emerging from the coalition party which currently holds executive office, Henry Jeffrey believes that it is indicative of a possible rebirth of the AFC,in an attempt to be integrated in the decision-making process at the level of the council.
“The issues at City Hall are a result of the chaos already taking place there… and everything points to a process-problem at that institution” Jeffrey told Demerara Waves Online News. These issues, he alluded to, also include the recent eviction of Stabroek Market vendors from traditional vending spots with short notice from Town Clerk, Royston King.
Jefferey expressed the view that “nothing is done through a sensible process” at City Hall, which has lead to the currently development at the local government institution.He went on to further suggest that if Duncan was involved in discussions which lead to the agreement to have such a project, then he should not be “making noise” about it now.
“If he wasn’t apart of the process then those who made the decision to have the parking meter are the problem. If however, he apart of the democratic process and his view was outweighed, then he has not right to come out in the streets and make noise about it” Jeffrey said.
To support his contention, the former Minister under the PPP administration said that when he was with the party, he opposed many policies, but when his opinions were outweighed, he lost the right to complain about the issue.
Meanwhile, political activist Freddie Kissoon is of an opposing conviction. He does not believe that the ongoing issues at City Hall are political in nature, but rather a reflection of the dynamics of the city council.
“To me it has to do with the dynamics of the council and not necessarily politics” he said.
According to Kissoon, the Deputy Mayor’s statements, which oppose the two controversial companies identified to spearhead the project, is reflective of the views of most Guyanese. He reasoned that Duncan is of a “new breed” and has examined the issues which have plagued City Hall over the years. And given his relatively young political career, Kissoon said that Duncan is continuing his push for transparency and accountability at a local government body which had been accused of lacking same.
“There is that old culture in the council… The Town Clerk acts without approval from the council, the Mayor seems to be making her own decisions and it appears as if Sherod [Duncan] opposes these kinds of activities which lack transparency” said Kissoon, a former Political Science Lecturer at the University of Guyana and an AFC campaigner for the 2015 general elections.
Weighing in on the issue also was General Secretary of the opposition PPP, Clement Rohee who agreed that the Deputy Mayor is “sticking his ground” and that the existence of a coalition at the level of council is no more.
To support his view of the Deputy Mayor, he referenced the fact that Duncan had devoted much time during the Local Government Elections campaign, speaking about accountability and transparency at City Hall.
“He [Duncan] has taken a strident position on the [parking meter] issue and we have to wait to see what will be the outcome” the opposition party’s General Secretary said.
He also suggested that there is no coalition existing at the level of the council since most of the councilors contested on their own popularity within their constituency.