See full statement below from International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G):

IDPADA-G has continued to pursue the goals of the Decade, within the limits of the resources available to us in spite of government’s continued withholding of our subvention without justifiable cause. Our robust participation at the recently held Second Session of the UN Permanent Forum for the People of African Descent in New York is evidence of our determination to stay the course.

This Government, on the other hand, has continued to wage a propaganda campaign against IDPADA-G, including during its premiere appearance at any UN meeting on issues related to African descendants. At this session of the Permanent Forum the Government of Guyana opted to send the Minister of Tourism and two members of the Ethnic Relations Commission – an entity that should be independent arbiters of ethnic relations.

The Government of Guyana has never fulfilled its obligation to implement the programme for the Decade and consequently has never reported as the UN requires. Rather, it used its first appearance to attempt to debunk reports submitted to the UN by IDPADA-G.

Government’s most recent piece of propaganda is a critical review of IDPADA-G’s Strategic Plan conducted by Joel Bhagwandin under the aegis of SPHEREX Professional Services Inc. – a project apparently sole sourced to Spherex and assigned to Bhagwandin.

Bhagwandin is better known for defending government policies and actions in the columns of the dailies. Given his pre-existing relationship and documented full-throated support for this government, one is left to wonder about the objectivity of his review, especially under the circumstances of government’s vicious attacks and clear determination to destroy IDPADA-G.

IDPADA-G has an unassailable reputation for accountability and transparency as has been proven through our annual audits and the government’s Special Investigative Audit for the years 2018 – 2021 yet Bhagwandin described the problem he intended to address as: “Issues surrounding the organization’s financial management and accountability”. What issues?

It is also public knowledge that for the said period IDPADA-G submitted its estimates, inclusive of salary line items and was granted its subvention on that basis. There is no plausible basis for a retrospective contention pertaining to financial management.

Bhagwandin also incorrectly stated that the Government of Guyana disbursed funding directly to IDPADA-G member organizations instead of the IDPADA-G. As of to date, no member organization has advised of the receipt of funds.

Interestingly, and justifiably so, Bhagwadin’s review, including recommendations do not address those issues. On the other hand, his review is a hodgepodge of inaccuracies, misrepresentations,
omissions, half -truths, irrelevancies and issues unrelated to the stated problem and the subject manner that he presents as the objective of his review.

Bhagwandin makes the following assertions in his critique of the methodology used by the drafting team, that need to be addressed;
i. Inadequate sample size;
ii. No hypothesis testing; research technique employed failed to test the validity of the hypotheses. The findings are generally based on the participants’ perceptions rather than hardcore empirical evidence.
iii. Focus on economy (discrimination by the State in the award of public contracts, etc.), employment (factors responsible for high rates of unemployment among African Guyanese), and equity/equality (practices by other groups including the State that actively discriminate against African Guyanese.)

Sample and Methodology
In his attempt to criticize the methodology employed by the developers of the strategic plan, he claimed that a survey method was used and that the sample size of 100 participants was inadequate. The crafters of the plan did not employ a quantitative approach or survey method. They used a qualitative/ethnographic investigative approach of a multi-faceted social dilemma where quantitative data, wherever available was used to corroborate qualitative findings and enrich understanding of specific phenomena being experienced by African Guyanese. The method of investigation included a desk review of historical documents and previous assessments; key informant interviews; and countrywide semi-structured focus groups with approximately 400 respondents.

Hypothesis Testing
No such was intended. The regional consultations and stakeholder meetings (so-called needs assessment) focused on 5 thematic/sectoral areas viz. Economy, Employment, Education, Equity/Equality, and Expiation. These were conducted using a set of approximately 10 questions for each of the 5 areas that were intended to uniformly elicit the views and inputs of each community and stakeholder meeting, thereby ensuring comparability and aggregation/collation. He totally ignores the sections on Education and Expiation. One wonders why!!!

Focus on Economy
Where the crafters conducted a consultation under the rubric “Economy” inclusive of 17 group discussions he claimed that “The total number of respondents … was 17.” His review therefore has no leg to stand on with regard to his contention that the methodology of the crafters of the plan was flawed. It is his understanding and representation that are deficient and therefore invalid as the basis for the analysis intended, thus nullifying his ‘critical review.’
Bhagwadin’s contentions such as the identification of the statistics to show who applied for contracts and that the applicants were equally treated does not address the historical and systemic disablement of our community.

That approach permeates Bhagwadin’s claim that the African Guyanese community are on equal footing and not confronted with identifiable and remediable problems. Interestingly, he attempts to present data by ethnicity although the Minister of Governance is on record flaying ethnic data on the grounds that the collection of such data is in conflict with the constitution.

Content of the Report
As already stated, Bhagwadin’s review does not address the Problem which he articulated. And to reference other countries, as he did, that are dissimilar to Guyana is no basis for suggesting the course of action to be taken in Guyana.

His stated objective “is to examine the issues surrounding the dispute between IDPADA-G and GoG” to wit ‘the unresolved dispute between IDPADA-G and the GoG’. He, however, engages in an excursion under the following heads: i. Economy; ii. Decision Making; iii. Employment; iv. Equity and Equality and does not address the so-called dispute.

In that excursion, Bhagwandin embraces a disposition that exemplifies the fundamental point of departure between IDPADA-G and the Government, and clearly infers the difference between IDPADA-G and the Government with regard to the problem that necessitated the declaration of Decade.

IDPADA-G understands the Decade to be a project aimed at redressing and correcting the impact of the institutional and legal frameworks and structures established during slavery and since emancipation by the colonial powers and maintained by successor states that have inhibited or retarded the recognition, justice and development of the people of African Descent. Such redress and correction require reparatory, corrective and equitable actions.

The current Government operates on the premise that once the current system is not discriminatory on the surface or in itself an inhibitor then there is no need for reparations, correction and equitable measures. That flies in the face of the fact that there can be no equality if the contestants are not equally prepared and positioned, hence the need for African Guyanese who, for example where forced off of their lands and into paid employment, to be treated equitably to enable them to be equalized with those whose agricultural and commercial pursuits were facilitated when African Guyanese descent were inhibited and continue to be inhibited due to the head start of others.

In some regards Bhagwandin concedes that there are problems unrelated to the one he identified as the subject of his review, although he could not address it for the want of evidential material. However, his recommendations are misconceived.
He agreed that the Government must take immediate steps to conform to the objectives of the Decade but does not recognize nor concede that IDPADA-G’s repeated calls upon the Government for talks was intended to initiate those steps.

In that regard, the President failed to fulfill three promises. His suggestion that a commission of African Guyanese organisations be established to determine and facilitate the needed actions is mischievous and disrespectful. IDPADA-G is an authentic umbrella organisation of African Guyanese organizations that emerged at the behest of, and funded by, the Government of Guyana. It has also studied the problem and proffered solutions, using a bottom-up approach.

All that’s required is for the Government to acknowledge the plight of African Guyanese; the raison d’etre of the decade; and speak to the authentic representatives of the people of African descent in an earnest attempt to find a way forward.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here