There was no Plan B in Linden for when bauxite declined
Listening to ex-PNC Leader Mr Corbin claiming that Lindeners deserve to pay low electricity charges as a right because of their four-decades ago contribution to the bauxite industry certainly puts a new spin on things. Linden is special to the PNC. So the freebies are a right. What else do Lindeners deserve as a right? Free housing and water and roads? And give what in return?
What do citizens elsewhere in Guyana deserve as a right for their contributions to Guyana? Higher electricity charges, etc, etc? What do I deserve for serving Guyana as a soldier for eighteen years and being a farmer for thirty-odd years, not looking for freebies from whichever party is in power?
Mr Corbin seems to have selectively forgotten that many Lindeners in the days of Demba enjoyed super wages/salaries, even porters. In fact, many coastlanders migrated to Linden (then McKenzie) because earnings and benefits there outstripped earnings elsewhere in Guyana. So Lindeners didn’t do the rest of Guyana a favour. Like the pork-knockers of yore, Lindeners made big bucks, and thought that bauxite was inexhaustible. There was no Plan B, even as the bauxite industry was going belly up (which President Burnham himself admitted) and the reality today is that Lindeners must accept that the freebies they are unjustifiably enjoying must come to an end.
Lindeners and political agitators should say what has befallen LEAP and other initiatives into which billions of dollars of our money have been pumped. How come these programmes failed? Where were the sudden on-the-scene leaders? Why didn’t they lend a hand to make those programmes work?
Unfortunately, three lives have now been lost. I join in mourning for them, for they were manipulated to be where they were. They did not lose their lives because they protested the electricity hike per se, but because of the opposition’s thirst for power. APNU and the AFC want power at any cost. Both APNU and AFC are missing something. The Linden issue, if protracted and allowed to spread into other areas, will drive fear into PPP supporters. The recent comments by Mr Granger at the unveiling of the Buxton monument have added to this. This is playing right into the hands of the PPP. Fear within the Indian collective will result in (re)migration to the PPP camp. Snap elections: a PPP majority.
I have been around long enough to qualify to offer a warning to the AFC: Remember the PNC-UF coalition. The AFC is expendable. Their outing at the next elections will give them only two seats. The AFC’s showing at the last elections was because of Indian support. Their non-Indian vote was less than 10% of the votes they got. The Indians gave them the balance of power in Parliament, not to oppose the PPP in everything they do, but to jerk the string when the PPP steps out of line. Instead, the AFC is a full-time bed partner with the APNU. That union can produce nothing but pain for this country.
If the AFC thinks that the PPP will disintegrate and disappear in another decade, they are bonkers. While Mr Ramotar has not been assertive enough as General Secretary of the PPP and he is certainly inept as President of this country, the PPP is still the most experienced party around. Mr Jagdeo may well still be running this country. But Mr Ramotar has been legally and properly elected to that position and he has earned the right to lead the government of the day. If he continues to fail the country, it is sooner rather than later that he will have to throw in the towel. Wresting political power through the back door will leave the opposition with no country to govern.
The PPP’s power base is indeed soft. They have lost an entire generation. In fact, they have thrown away an entire generation. Their lazy and ineffective field operators fed Freedom House wrong information that Mr Ramotar and his party unquestioningly accepted. 49% in Parliament is the result – deservingly. There is not the will in the party to cohere. There is no youth base. And with Ralph Ramkarran gone, so has the conscience. But the PPP will rally.
We have just celebrated another year of Emancipation. What is emancipation if our behaviour shows an overwhelming dependence on others for our basic food? Whenever I say this I make enemies. But our salvation rests with respecting the sacrifices of our foreparents. We have to cut our own track. How many in the Black collective do? Rather, we show token recognition today and tomorrow we buy food grown by others. Food, my brethren, will be the gold of this country. We grow food or we perish. May our work bring us true Emancipation.