Archaic Act still holds sway over Amerindian Village Council
July 10, 2004
The Amerindian Village Councils are governed by an archaic Amerindian Act which gives the Minister of Amerindian Affairs the authority to establish a village council as a corporate body for any district or area, and to appoint rather than elect officers.
Unlike the NDCs (Neighbourhood Development Councils), which comprise more than one community or village and are administered by a chairman and elected councillors, the village council is responsible for just one village and is administered by a captain and councillors.
Although the Amerindian Act does not make provision for the election of office bearers for the village councils, elections are generally held every two years. But elections of officers for the NDCs are due every three years, in the same time frame as municipal and local government elections, according to the Local Government (Elections) Act. And the Amerindian Affairs Minister has the power to remove the councils if there is just cause.
The Local Government Act, nevertheless, makes provision for the preservation of the status of any existing city or town, or of any council established under the Amerindian Act, or, of any other local democratic organ.
The village councils are accountable to a district commissioner whose position is now redundant, while the NDCs are accountable to the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development but the RDCs (Regional Democratic Councils) have a supervisory role in the spending of monies and programme planning.
The village council is responsible for holding all the rights, titles and interest in, or, over the land within the district, area or village as conferred in the Amerindian Act, for the benefit and use of the members of the community; and it has to manage and regulate the use of the land; and discharge other duties according to the rules or regulations under the Act.