Cricket stakeholders protest AG office; want GCB “elections now”
By Avenash Ramzan
A group of cricket stakeholders mounted a peaceful protest in front of the Attorney General’s Chambers on Monday morning, calling for government’s intervention in bringing some semblance of normalcy to the manner in which cricket is administered in Guyana. The group is unanimously calling for free and fair elections to be held at the Guyana Cricket Board.
The group, numbering about 30, braved the mid-morning sunshine, chanting “Elections now, Elections now” and “We want elections; free and fair.”
The protest surrounds the Guyana Cricket Administration Act, which was passed in the National Assembly in May 2014 and assented to by the then President in August that year. The aim of the Act is to bring about order in the administration of cricket and to improve its governance and financial accountability arrangements.
However, the Act is yet to be implemented because of the then acting Chief Justice’s ruling in April 2015 that restrained the holding of elections under the Act in respect of the Guyana Cricket Board and the county boards of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice until the hearing and determination of the substantive action.
At Monday’s protest, former Guyana Cricket Board executive and ex-West Indies Cricket Board Director, Claude Raphael, said the group is calling on the Attorney General to act on the matter so that free and fair elections could be conducted at the Guyana Cricket Board.
“We are going to be stepping up this thing; this is only the start, but we certainly have a lot more to go until such time when we have free and fair elections. We don’t care who wins, as long as it’s free and fair elections everyone will come onboard and this would be finished with,” Raphael told the media.
He continued, “This thing has been overdue for too long. Since 2009 we haven’t had free and fair elections in this country and despite the passing of the Bill- the Cricket Administration Act in 2014- we still have not been able to get the free and fair elections that we need to sort out our cricket problems in this country. We have a lot of cricket problems and it seems as though nobody cares. We’ve given this government a nesting period hoping that they would by now have sorted this thing out, but it’s seems as though we’re going down the same old road.”
Raphael said Monday’s picketing exercise is the first in a series of initiatives that the stakeholders have planned to gain the government’s attention on the issue.
“We intend to have some public forums (because) we’re really trying to get civil society onboard. As I said, this is the start, but we’re hoping that we would get the private sector, the trade unions and everybody onboard in the very near future. We’re talking to them right now and it seems as though we’re making some progress in that regard,” Raphael explained.
The former Chairman of National Selectors also spoke on the perceived reason he believes the government is reluctant to bring a swift resolution to the current situation.
“Well I don’t know, but my understanding is that there is a very good relationship between the incumbent illegal GCB and this current government for what reason I don’t know. As you said, this government did inherit it, but the fact of the matter is that this government had the majority in Parliament when this Bill was passed so this Bill is essentially this government’s Bill,” Raphael related.
Meanwhile, executive member of the West Berbice Cricket Association, Ravindranauth Saywack, said cricket in Berbice is suffering because of the situation that exists at the national level. He said persons who were duly elected have since resigned or have been forced to do so, as elections have not been held at the county board since 2014.
“The only valid reason I feel is because they’re putting people in position so that they can be voted back when there is another election, so they’re propping their votes up from now,” Saywack reasoned. “We feel that after knocking these people out those who would have had voting rights would be replaced by puppets. I feel the Guyana Cricket Board is integral to the destruction of Berbice Cricket Board so that they can have their own people placed there and they can have the votes from Berbice Cricket Board; that would enable them another couple of years back in the GCB.”
Another person on the protest line was the outspoken Cyril King, who, like his colleagues, is keen on the holding of free and fair elections across the board. He called on the Attorney General to use his good office and act in the best interest on the game.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Cricket Board on January 30 this year hosted its Annual General Meeting at the Chetram Singh Centre of Excellence at La Bonne Intention, East Coast Demerara, but there was no election of office bearers for the new term. All members were returned unopposed owing to the Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) of October 2016.
During a subsequent press conference, Secretary Anand Sanasie explained the reason behind the move. “A motion that came from the OGM as it relates to nominations for the position of the executive committee of the GCB was presented as was done on the 23rd of October, as required by the constitution of the GCB. That motion was accepted, but because of a pending court matter in which a number of plaintiffs, including the GCB have challenged the Cricket Administration Act, and certain aspect of the constitutionality of it in which they expressed their concerns and made statements of claim against, it was ruled that they could be no elections of the bodies under the act, and the Guyana Cricket Board is one such body, so as a result the election process was not proceeded with.”