Acting Chief Justice Roxane George today described the ongoing dispute over funding for the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G), which has now evolved into a lawsuit, as a national embarrassment.
She has urged the parties involved to seek mediation.
“This embarrassment to our nation, two years to go, and we will be in this imbroglio, maybe heading all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice. How will that look in relation to us as a State? I am not saying that persons don’t have the right to appeal, and go all the way to the Apex Court, which hopefully, will settle the matter,” Justice George said, as she underscored the importance of having the matter resolved.
She expressed the view that the case will more than likely be sent to mediation.
The pronouncement was made even four Afrocentric organisations applied to be added to the case and were denied.
The case was filed against the Guyana Government by IDPADA-G, challenging the Government’s decision to withhold its monthly subvention of $8M from the organisation, although the money had already been passed and approved by the National Assembly.
During today’s hearing, Attorney Ayanna McCalman made an application for the Guyana Rastafarian Council, the People of African Descent Region 10, the African Movement and the Anbessa Sustainable Development Foundation to join the case, claiming that they all have a vested interest in the matter before the Court.
The Attorney explained that the four organisations were founding members of IDPADA-G and would like an opportunity to be heard before the conclusion of the case.
She said the four organisations are concerned about the conversion of the IDPADA-G organisation into a company.
Attorney Nigel Hughes, who is representing IDPADA-G, told the Court that the four organisations are not members of the limited liability company, which was the recipient of the government’s subvention.
In rejecting the applications, the Chief Justice explained that the organisations referenced a number of internal issues in their application that do not fall within the remit of the current case before the Court, pointing out that “if they have an internal dispute, that is to be dealt with by them, and not in the context of this case”.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall was not happy with the Chief Justice’s decision to exclude the four organisations from being added to the case.
He contended that the concerns being raised by the organisations appear similar to the concerns of the Minister of Culture, who has defended his Ministry’s decision to hold back the group’s subvention.
The Chief Justice did not budge from her position and maintained her ruling. She said adding the four organisations could lead to other groups laying claim, and that could result in a recipe for chaos, which she will not allow.
Before adjourning the matter to the 27th February, Justice George said there is still the possibility of mediation, and she wants both sides to consider that route.