Natalie Neita-Garvey, opposition spokesperson on local government and sports, has stated that any further postponement of the Local Government Elections (LGE) is a clear sign that the Government is not interested in strengthening Jamaica’s democracy.
In a statement this morning, the Opposition Spokesperson chided the Government for robbing the people of an opportunity to go to the polls to choose their representatives.
Neita-Garvey expressed deep concern that the latest indication of postponement is a major setback to democracy and local governance and will compromise the effectiveness of local government authorities.
“It shatters the hope of reforms promised in the new Local Governance Act of 2016 and defeats the objective of removing local government as a political football of central government”, she said.
She also noted that several divisions are without proper representation due to the death of the last elected councillor, migration, neglect, or the election of the sitting councillor to the House of Representatives.
The Opposition Spokesperson said over twelve divisions are now without representation, and the people within those boundaries are not receiving adequate services as provided for by the Representation of the People Act.
In addition, Neita Garvey said on Wednesday (January 25) the House of Representatives approved the Representation of People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporations and City Municipalities) Act 2022, allowing the Government to postpone the election for up to one year.
According to Neita-Garvey, during those debates, the Government pinned the postponement on the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic conditions.
She is therefore demanding that the Government remain faithful to the commitments delivered to the people of Jamaica in the sanctity of Parliament.
According to the Opposition, although not yet official, the government seemed prepared to hang the postponement of the elections on financial constraints, but she stated it is an illegitimate claim.
“The government has had enough time since the last postponement to plan for holding these elections to fulfil the requirement of the Local Governance Act of 2016. Instead, the government is simply abusing the power of the parliamentary majority to do what it wants with our democratic system of government,” Neita-Garvey said.
She said this should not be allowed because the absence of this mechanism of checks and balances, which gives the people a say in the election of their representatives, is a direct threat to the foundation of our democracy.