The opposition has been lazy by not tabling bills in the National Assembly
Despite all the antics over the past seven months, the opposition has been extremely lazy. It has failed to live up to expectations, particularly the largest opposition party, APNU. I was shocked to read that the very first opposition bill was tabled just last week, some seven months after the November 28, 2011 election. That is utter slackness and blatant disrespect for the demands of the voters who gave the opposition a majority in Parliament to execute fast and serious change. To make matters worse, the very first bill tabled by APNU/PNC was not one about the burning issues of the day such as corruption, the presidency, freedom of information, electoral reform or ethnic imbalance, but about making the Clerk of the National Assembly independent. This is the confirmation of consummate sloth by the opposition. At this rate, the opposition will table nine bills in the next five years and the PPP government will be laughing all the way to the next election. The majority of electors in Guyana did not vote for APNU and the AFC to draft one measly bill every seven months. To do so is irresponsibility and complacency of the highest order.
I have always maintained that despite its size and the level of support it commands, APNU is the laziest political party in the region. The AFC is understandably hamstrung by its size but it is also indolent to play along with this slackness. These parties simply do not get it. In a minority government situation where you control the legislature, you aggressively push your legislative agenda before the governing minority party is tempted to call a snap election. While the PPP will not call a snap election because it will lose more votes than in 2011, the fear of a snap election should furiously drive the legislative agenda to change the country through law-making. After all, that is what Parliament is there to do. The opposition cannot change Guyana with strutting around in fancy suits, masquerading in Parliament, seeking television airtime and marching in the streets while being lazy about drafting legislation to present to the Parliament. Guyana has to be changed by changing its laws. By now, there should have been about thirty bills from the opposition seeking to revamp this country and reshape its future. All that talk in Parliament and on the public airwaves is useless if there are no laws to put that talk into action. The opposition has been too centred on debating the government and has been side-tracked in skirmishes with the government while the war of getting the laws changed has seen no opposition fight. There are archaic laws to be fixed. There are new laws to be written. Once passed, good laws are hard to remove because the judiciary whether at home or at the Caribbean Court of Justice will uphold them. Minority governments have to be really arrogant and foolish to disobey both the legislature and the judiciary. How exactly could the PPP refuse to sign into law a strong anti-corruption piece of legislation without losing even more support in doing so? The opposition has to draft and present laws that put the PPP in a political quandary when it refuses to sign them. The problem is they haven’t drafted and presented those laws.
There should be no free ride for the APNU and the AFC. They need to wake up. This is not reinventing the wheel. Good laws in good democracies are all over the internet. Copy them. If this nonsense continues, opposition supporters must call their parties to account. The PNC is heading down the same path it took just before the 1992 election when it knew the writing was on the wall and democracy would be restored to Guyana thereby restoring the PPP to power. The laziness of the PNC then resulted in an unchanged 1980 constitution with ridiculously overblown presidential powers handed wholesale to the incoming PPP administration. The PPP abused that constitution just as the PNC did. Before 1992, the PNC failed Guyanese in general and Africans specifically. It is doing the same thing with this poor legislative agenda of one bill in seven months. I do not think those mostly African supporters who voted for the PNC/APNU revival in 2011 voted for this incompetence. Similarly, the AFC supporters did not vote for this weak legislative agenda.
Parliament is not a photo opportunity or a forum to hear your own voice or a duty-free shop to get duty-free concessions or a means to getting a fat tax-free salary on the cheap at the taxpayers’ expense. We have had enough of that from the PPP. Parliament is about hard work and diligence. My analysis shows we will have minority governments for the foreseeable future unless one of the parties finds a Barack Obama figure. There is no sign of any such messianic types on the Guyanese political horizon. Alliances can change and votes can shift in this and the future political environment. Those controlling the Parliament must act decisively to push through their legislative agenda. I have no faith in the PNC/APNU as a leopard does not change its spots. It is a fundamentally lazy party when it comes to a legislative agenda. The AFC must draft bills, present them to the public and then put pressure on the PNC/APNU and the PPP to support them. I find it alarming that the opposition has not passed a single bill to level the playing field for itself in the event of a future election. The PNC/APNU is repeating its pre-1992 mistake today by failing to change the law before another party gets a majority and seizes upon that broken law to abuse it to the chagrin of the entire country again. Maybe the PNC/APNU is deluded like it was in 1992 that it could legitimately win power in free and fair elections. In any event, the constitution gives excessive power even to a minority president. Yet, the opposition has done nothing to pass laws to circumscribe that excessive power. It is time the opposition starts putting bills before the President that he cannot refuse to sign without serious political fallout for his party.