Are you a responsible citizen?
--asks Eileen Cox Viewpoint
Guyana Chronicle
May 22, 2002

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HOW many citizens of Georgetown attended the meeting at the City Hall when the budgetary proposals for the year 2002 were presented by the Chairman of the Finance Committee Mr Robert Williams?

The Policy Document was presented on Wednesday April 10 and is entitled “Retooling to respond to the requirements of our capital”.

Now, even if you were not able to attend the meeting, did you take the trouble to collect a copy of the Budget Statement from City Hall? If you failed to do that also, you cannot clap yourself on the back and proclaim, “I am a responsible citizen”.

The document raises some hope in our minds that there is going to be a turn around. Drainage has improved, collections are better, and some roads have been repaired. Solid waste management is under constant review.

What is the role of the citizens of Georgetown in all this activity? Once the City Council is elected, there is relaxation. We sit back and say, “Now, let them perform”. But there is a role. A society needs props, stable groups of citizens to help to keep a stable society. Do all adults take part in those groups or does the workload fall on the shoulders of a few?

I would like to take my listeners back to the year 1963. On Sunday 29 December, 1963 - which was the year of the 80-day general strike - a group of women in Guyana hosted a buffet luncheon at the Belvedere Hotel on Camp Street in honour of Mrs. A.J.F. Cross of the League of Women Voters in the United States. Guyana was not yet independent, but this was in preparation for Independence, as we knew full well the responsibilities that would fall on each citizen when we had to manage our own affairs.

What was the League of Women Voters? I say, “was” because there has been no response to a recent letter to the organisation. The purpose of the League of Women Voters was to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government.

The League was originally a part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which led the 72-year drive for full and equal suffrage for women of the United States. The League described itself as a “non-partisan organisation, established in 1920, to encourage citizen participation in government. It is for us to note the non-partisanship of the organisation.

I quote from a leaflet issued by the League: “The League takes action in support of or in opposition to selected governmental issues, but it does not support or oppose candidates nor does it support or oppose political parties.”

Again I quote “The effort to further individual political effectiveness is a continuous function of the League. Year-round it supplies the citizen with factual information on important issues. At election times Leagues publish factual information on candidates and ballot issues, conduct candidates meetings, and work to get out the vote.”

It is for us to ponder on this and decide whether it is not a good model for a society such as ours, torn as we are by racial considerations? Let us think about it.