Government should take decisive action to ensure free and fair GCB elections

first_img(Letter to the Sports Editor)In 2011,former Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang,in his ruling on the Angela Haniff vs GCB application for an injunction,stated that the Government through its Ministry/Minister of Sport,should install an Interim Management Committee (IMC) as a short-term measure and legislature as the long-term remedy for the escalating cricket crisis. This effectively placed the responsibility on the ‘Government’ to resolve the lawlessness that had taken over the very essence of our cricket.Sad to say,that to date there has been no improvement. Both governments, the PPP/C and the APNU/AFC, must share collective responsibility for the current shambolic state of our cricket. Although the PPP/C Government through its Minister of Sport established the IMC and enacted the Law consistent with the former CJ’s recommendation, the process took too long,principally because of the evident ambivalence within that Party.While some Party leaders were publicly acknowledging that the GCB officials were operating illegally, others seemed more disposed to accommodating the ‘illegality,’ especially former Director of Sport,Neil Kumar,who publicly gave ‘unflinching support’ to that illegal Board.The GCB’s Executive then and even now,consisted of people who were fearful of facing any democratic process that involves free and fair elections. Guyana is a multi-ethnic country and it is inconceivable if not highly improbable that in any transparent cricket electoral process,all Executive Members elected could be of one particular race.The APNU/AFC Government,while in opposition, remained relatively quiet during the turbulent years 2009-2014,but participated meaningfully in the Parliamentary process through the Cricket Select Committee,in refining the draft bill presented by the PPP/C administration into a readily acceptable document.The inclusion of the Ombudsman in the new Act was important to ensure transparency in the voting process at elections of the various Boards,along with the inclusion of the Upper Demerara Cricket Association (Linden),which remains totally ostracized from participating in any cricket activity to date.It is very instructive to note that Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, in his very eloquent presentation to the National Assembly on the merits of the Cricket Administration Bill 2012,stated and I quote:-1. “The very word ‘cricket’ has become a synonym for all that is true and honest. To say ‘that is not cricket’ implies something underhand, something not in keeping with the best ideals”,2. “For now, suffice it to say that the crisis of Guyanese and West Indian cricket is not unconnected with a crisis in cricket administration. In fact, recent events have shown that the crisis reaches right up to the ICC”.3. “The Bill before us today, I believe, is an attempt, long delayed and much deferred, to grapple with our own local situation. It is my hope that what we are doing in relation to the Cricket Administration Bill will reach into the other territories where there is much to be done in relation to cricket administration”.4. “We can neither afford to luxuriate in the nostalgia of glories past nor wring our hands as we bemoan the current decline”.5. “What then are the key elements of the Bill? The Hon. Minister (Dr. Frank Anthony) has outlined some of them. One, the issue of elections to the executive of the GCB; this is at the heart of the issue”.To date,even though the political guard has changed and the APNU/AFC coalition is now the Government and Dr. Roopnaraine is Minister of Sport, cricket is still suffering. The GCB’s twelve (12)- member Executive is still of one particular race. This is a totally unacceptable situation where there have been no elections held and where the illegal GCB Executive Members have sought and served injunction after injunction to prevent any further elections,notwithstanding Dr. Roopnaraine’s statement that “elections of the GCB are at the heart of the issue”. And despite meetings with Dr. Roopnaraine, the Attorney General, the Minister of State, the Director of Sport, the National Sports Council and President Granger himself,nothing has been done.Instead, after sixteen (16) months of the APNU/AFC Government,the illegal cricket regime is still being allowed to operate with impunity. Dr. Roopnaraine had lamented in his address then “who could have imagined that the current West Indies team would not include a single Guyanese”. This is due to the incompetence of the current leaders of our cricket administration who seem to be inextricably inter-twined with both the previous and the present governments. For some time now the GCB has been destroying our cricket by victimizing players, Associations and Boards and also through their inability to transition our talented players from the local to the international level.The Boards/Areas with the competent personnel to improve our cricket all round will undoubtedly emerge after the process of free and fair elections are implemented according to the law which this same group claims they recognise. The successful development of our cricket cannot be achieved within the present illegal framework where there is no cohesion nor fusing together of the best resources available. Development could best be achieved if there is a structured and well thought-out programme with all involved. It must include the re-establishment of our school cricket, the strengthening of the club structure and the organising of carefully-designed competitions at the Association and Board levels, along with support for coaching, academy, umpiring, scoring, pitch and ground (venue) upgrading programmes.The scrapping of the Inter-County Tournament is a clear case of short-sightedness and while it is certainly a good idea for players to play as much cricket as possible, the three (3) -day Premier League has been badly implemented and will be counter -productive without the requisite stated pillars of support; the foundation upon which we can build a sustainable cricket development programme.The current Government campaigned on the tenets of transparency, democracy and anti-corruption and promised “a better life for all”. “All” must include the youngsters of Upper Demerara, East Coast and the many disenfranchised players throughout Guyana. The Government cannot be seen to be supporting the illegality that the current GCB regime represents,by awarding them and by not enforcing the Law. It is time for the Attorney General and the Minister of Sport to defend the challenge and clear the way for the democratic process of free and fair elections to begin. It must not be further delayed. Mr. Odinga Lumumba,in his contribution to the debate on the Cricket Administration Bill 2012 stated:“Mr. Speaker, I want to say and as I try to argue that the present crisis of West Indian cricket and the current drought of emerging talent in Guyana have much to do with the state of cricket administration in the region and here in Guyana. My own hope is that our newly-minted Cricket Administration Act will set a new standard for cricket administration throughout the region. Further Mr. Speaker, cricket is not the only sport to have had administrative difficulties. Presently, we have difficulties in football, basketball, volleyball and boxing;all of which have their own difficulties. But this activity today will prove to the wider community of Guyana that the dreams and aspirations of our youths that are shattered by a few selfish, narrow-minded thinking men can be set aside by this National Assembly.Leadership, and in particular ethical leadership, must be the yardstick of any social organization. It is inappropriate to put a thief, a culprit or a shady character to head any segment of society. And it is more regretful when politicians and men and women of cloth choose to represent characters who have the capacity to paint their path with birthday parties, outrageous fees and complimentary tickets in order to buy favours.When these things occur, the good of the organization will often derail the dreams of our sportsmen and women and their future is then cast aside. The objective of the organization then becomes a wealth scheme for the few and the role of the National Assembly can be questioned if we do not act decisively.This awful cricket tragedy in Guyana has resulted in the undermining of the skills sector of Guyana’s cricket. The Hon. Dr. Roopnarine spoke well of that issue. The continuous confrontation has resulted in underdevelopment and un-development of a sport that has given so much to this nation.On behalf of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government,I am proud to support this Bill, and I am honoured to support the right of Linden as it earned its right to give us more Basil Butchers. With these few humble words, I support the passing of this Bill which will certainly represent the end to cronyism and mosquito politics in cricket affairs in Guyana. Thank you”. .The above represents an impressive array of statements by Dr. Roopnaraine and Mr. Odinga Lumumba (extracted from Hansard on the parliamentary cricket debate). I am nonplussed at the unwillingness of successive Governments of Guyana to deal condignly with this most unacceptable situation that is stifling our cricket. In light of the foregoing, it is incumbent on the current Government,after sixteen (16) months in office,to take decisive action and remove the impediments to free and fair elections, thereby eradicating the lawlessness of an illegal regime masquerading as The Guyana Cricket Board. The AG must now appoint a Lawyer to defend the frivolous challenge to the Law and the injunction granted to stop all elections (2014-HC-DEM-CIV-106).An appeal was immediately filed by the previous AG’s lawyer (2015-HC-DEM-CIV-APL-49) who was removed by Mr. Basil Williams when he became Attorney General,leaving that matter undefended. Government has the responsibility to ensure that justice, legality and proper accountability are the hallmarks of any national organisation,including the GCB.CLAUDE RAPHAELFormer Executive- GCBFormer Director-WICBlast_img read more