GECOM ads – one government subterfuge to be fiercely resisted

It took a while, but now it is finally out in the open: the PPP government is running scared; the party is scared despite its built in majority, its facile bluster, and its utilization of state resources for suspect purposes.  To its chagrin, problems have arisen with what it hears, sees, and suspects, namely, that 2011 is assuming the outlines of a contest getting a little too close for comfort.  With this in mind, the government forges ahead through shovelling certain critical GECOM matters to the alien environment of the murky local cyberspace.  Alien, that is, for the many voters in the middle and lower ends of the economic and educational ladder.

This latest development, in the form of a directive from the Cabinet Secretary confirms perceptions that the government will go to any lengths to reconfigure unilaterally the political process, and introduce dubious manoeuvres to maintain power. From all indications, this directive represents the most recent in a continuum of experimental feelers aimed at testing the resolve of the Guyanese people; except that this one will linger unless challenged and resisted.

Citizens should ponder what follows.  The first spit bubble blown into the face of society was filled with an interest in overseas voting; that quickly collapsed and disappeared off the radar in midair.

Then it came about that one of its stalwarts postulated in the press with another trial balloon concerning the need to postpone the upcoming elections; this one fell before stony resistance.  Next, the party’s general secretary openly expressed thoughts about a willingness to engage trusted partners and alliances; another dud.

When all of these shenanigans are taken together, it becomes clearer that notwithstanding its unconvincing media flailing, the PPP brass is sufficiently alarmed to dig deep into its bag of tricks and come up with these lead balloons to float before the electorate.

Since all were either shot down, or found no gullible takers, the time had arrived for something different to be inserted into the election works: something clever, something real low, and something desperate, as in this whole sleight of hand involving GECOM, advertisements and the government’s website.

It is as close as one can get to guarantee an election victory through forcing many Guyanese to the unknown – and too often inaccessible – territory of the web; the calculation is to marginalize or confound them.

For its part, the government has been careful to camouflage its distress, by advancing the cover of financial husbandry, which falls flat and smacks of dissembling and the disingenuous.  In a most splendid irony, here is a group that has presided over the squandering of countless millions by henchmen in deceptive practices and manipulative contrivances, now suddenly zealous over saving a pittance through flight to the worldwide web.

In a place where at a moment’s notice, citizens could be shaking hands with garbage, or wading through floodwaters, the web has become this lodestar housing all solutions.  It is this same place that reserves hundreds of millions for advisers to serve one man, but withdraws the equivalent of spare change for the vital interests of a whole nation.

Realistically, how much would be saved in view of the burgeoning resistance and coalescence around this fevered issue, where there has always been smoke, and tension is never less than combustible.  Clearly, this government plays with fire.

One would have thought that election related issues, and particularly anything that would hinder GECOM, are poised on such a hair trigger that they would merit openness, great care, and inclusive, consultative approaches.

But as has been the case whenever this government finds itself in a trouble spot, it only knows the reflex of resorting to fishiness.

Again: this is asking for trouble; real serious trouble now that new faces with different outlooks have surfaced to challenge the existing norms of quiescent collaboration.
Having itself been victimized in this most historically controversial of areas, a responsible and confident government would spare no expense to erase doubts about information flow and processes; money would not be an object.  Yet it pursues an opposite tack, by waving this cheap, urine soaked flag, and sheltering behind shrubberies of hypocrisy that fool few, if any.

As gimmicks go, this one focused on savings is shallow and specious.  But in one fell swoop, the government gains an additional dividend: it could wound and hobble the media bird through extending this financial weapon in the name of synergy, which word assumes increasing dirtiness domestically.  Further, the recent blunt exchanges – rightfully so – about the circumstances surrounding the handling of old ballot boxes, now gives way to new government mischief – more stealthy, but no less heavy handed – to remove ballot boxes from some, but this time before any voting takes place.  Put differently, the government’s directive slams the door in the face of unsuspecting voters; in an effort to frustrate.

Today, new and still assembling opposition politicians, along with outraged citizens must decide if they will accept this latest satiny approach at the hands of a government unmoored and lacking any tendency toward propriety and the rational. And as corroborated by the disclosures embedded in Dr Luncheon’s sculpted ‘translation’ and clarifications. Time will testify to his cosmetics about “wicked people” and “mad people.” As for the President’s later reassurances, the proof will be in the funding and practice pudding. Both responses do not alter materially the thoughts expressed herein.

So this is where the nation hovers: There is a government redolent with outward self assurance, but inwardly cringing with consternation over threats to its continuing unassailable hegemony.

It has always gambled confidently on the apathy of Guyanese; the limitations of a fractured, sometimes helpful, opposition; and its own rampaging arrogance.  That was until now.  Concerned society must stand to prove it wrong and resist this latest assault with unyielding fierceness.  The conscientious have to resist on this occasion, if not against government’s excesses, then at least for themselves before this latest in an accumulation of humiliations and rank injustices.

More in Features, Sunday


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