Nazima Raghubir re-elected GPA President in highly-contested elections
High drama prevailed before Nazima Raghubir was on Sunday re-elected President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) as moments before the election commenced, there was a back and forth over the legitimacy of the voters’ list among other concerns.
Raghubir, who held the post since 2018, defeated her only challenger, Neil Marks, with 70 votes; Marks got 25 votes.
The GPA’s Annual General Meeting and Elections were held at the Theatre Guild, Kingston, Georgetown. The voters’ list had 110 people.
Raghubir is now leading the GPA with the same people from her former executive, including Rawle Toney who was declared Vice President and Svetlana Marshall as Treasurer. They were both unchallenged.
Other executive members include Ariana Gordon, the Secretary (unchallenged) and four floor members, Denis Chabrol (62 votes), Alva Solomon (48 votes), Iva Wharton (55) and Nyjel Fraser. Marcelle Fowler was co-opted into the Executive after she got 41 votes as opposed to Fraser who got 42.
Just before the process, media operatives accused the GPA of not being transparent and fair by withholding the names of eligible voters and blocking new members from joining in time for the election.
According to the GPA, 110 of 115 members were eligible to vote at the annual general meeting. Names of the eligible members were not disclosed until Sunday, just before the voting commenced.
Asked why the list was only disclosed on Sunday, Chabrol on behalf of the executive body said, “We are not obliged to disclose person’s individual membership status, so by providing the list will mean the disclosure of persons financial status or status in the organisation and that is the rationale for not providing the list at the then time, the time to do so will be on the floor.
“It does not mean because we have done things one way previously that we should continue to do things in that way.”
When the list was finally read out on Sunday, Marks immediately pointed out that two of the persons on the list were not actively working in the media. He also said that the list could not be verified during the short time from when it was disclosed up to voting time, which was immediate.
“The GPA, whoever the remaining exec are have engaged in a campaign to register people while disenfranchising others. I have received calls from people and I was shocked when I found out that some other people’s registration were denied flatly,” Marks stated.
Other members took the opportunity to point out that they were not able to clarify their status and pay their dues in time for the elections because the GPA did not respond in time.
Meanwhile, at the end of the elections, Marks, in a statement said he was “severely disappointed” at the outcome, accusing the GPA of padding the list.
“My fears that the list was heavily padded came through and was very evident. The list was only read out before nominations were taken and gave no chance for even a simple check to verify that those who were on the list actually qualified.
“Immediately, I was able to note that there was a Bollywood show producer and a control operator who voted at the elections. Neither of them qualified for membership. There were several new persons who do not reach the 3-year requirement to vote but were added, with their membership backdated,” Marks wrote.
He added, “This was a shame and disgrace on us as journalists who seek to champion democracy, transparency and accountability. Those elected on the basis of rigged elections have lost credibility to question anyone on such issues.
“The credibility of the GPA has been severely harmed – and to me, that is the greatest shame.”