The PPP had the chance of a lifetime to heal the nation by using Article 103 to establish a government representing all the people
As luck would have it, an email sent me searching for a video on YouTube to find what I did not seek. I was moved to search for a video supposed to feature four Guyanese political figures. Instead I found one featuring one person, or rather personage, the Presidential Adviser on governance and PPP Whip, Ms. Gail Teixeira.
It was an October 23 appearance that dealt with the Honourable lady’s “Expectations” of the Opposition behaviour in parliament after the National Assembly’s recess just ended. It was for me an instructive show. I learned several things from Ms Teixeira and I am sure Mr Sultan Mohamed, that outstanding patriot, will not hesitate to respond to my present remarks tomorrow.
Ms. Teixeira charged the opposition with “Ten Strikes” against parliamentary democracy. She described the Opposition as “reckless”. She charged them with violating the Standing Orders and the Constitution and overturning longstanding agreements of honour made between the PPP/C and the PNCR after tough negotiations.
The present Opposition, she declared, did not understand compromise. “The PPP has always tried to work with other parties,” she reminded her audience.
Let us not forget that Ms Teixeira as Minister of Home Affairs in a critical period had distanced herself from “drug lords” and was promoted to the Office of the President.
The PPP Governance adviser said that the opposition had seized all the Chairs of Committees and then failed to hold a single meeting. The Opposition also had two annual Auditors’ Reports still to consider. The Opposition talked of corruption, mainly in the press, but did not use the power of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly (PAC) to call officials to account. (The fact is that the PAC goes through the Auditor’s comments and can pursue them for irregularity. The PAC is not geared for investigating corruption.)
She spoke of the “one-seat majority” and said it was “a fiction” but “yet real.”
She did not give the two opposition parties credit for uniting. They are split, at times, she claimed. Their split had caused the government to succeed at times, like on items on the supplementary estimates. She made the point that the Opposition did not have the votes to override the President’s veto. Eventually the government would prevail.
She was appalled and invited the country to share her shock at the way the poorly united one-seat majority, in the House, was making itself bigger than the government on committees. Under the PPP majority she recalled the posts of Chair were shared. She listed the anti-democratic acts of the APNU and the AFC, a major one being the taking by the Opposition of both the offices of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
All of this sounds like an Opposition is not playing cricket as Caribbean people do. Only the PPP plays political cricket, Ms Teixeira argued. My Mother would have said, ”But wait! Pinch me. Am I hearing right?” The Parliamentary Committees, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the Cabinet are all results of the People’s votes and are always based on how the people voted. No election, no parliament. No parliament, no cabinet. THAT, Ms Governance, is the Law and the Constitution.
Is this the same PPP/C that won the Presidency in 2011 on the Voice of the People and the Burnham Constitution? Is it the same PPP/C that lost the National Assembly election in 2011 to two opposition parties, under the same Burnham Constitution and the Voice of the People? Is it the same PPP/C that by day six had sworn in the President and appointed the Ministers, all of them from the list that lost the National Assembly? All of this—under the Constitution?
Did the PPP, that plays political cricket, invite the opposition parties to negotiate for members in the cabinet for a national government? Is it true that the same Constitution allows the President to appoint Ministers from among all members of parliament, and not only from the President’s list? Did the PPP/C explain this to the Nation? Is it not this same PPP that did not wait for the opposition parties to appoint members, but went ahead and huffed the cabinet seats for one party?
They did not give the APNU and the AFC a chance to refuse to be included. So, is this inclusive government?
They have a good argument, but not a good case, about the Committees. The PPP had the chance of a lifetime to create history and have inclusive government. There was no law to stop them. But All or Nothing was their attitude. Now, there are floods of crocodile tears, with “persuasive arguments” over House committees.
But the PPP/C are not the only ones to answer to the electorate for ignoring the meaning of the people’s vote one year ago. Did the PPP prevent the Opposition from tabling motions demanding an “inclusive government” based on the people’s votes in November 2011? Was a “gentlemen’s agreement” among the parties to keep the country divided? Some included and some excluded?
Yes, the power to appoint Ministers under Article 103 is a function of the
President. How he used it in 2011 shows the one–party outlook he exercises and wants to pass off as good governance. He may have set the example for the Opposition to follow. I am not a lawyer, but I invite government lawyers to justify the President’s appointment of a one-party cabinet under Article 103, after the November 2011 election, and in the face of Article 103.
Get me right—the President is constitutionally valid. His cabinet is not, according to the results all parties have accepted. This would mean that although Article 103 permits the President to appoint ministers from among elected members of Parliament from any List or Party, the PPP/C can lose the election and win the government. That is the supreme absurdity of politics in Guyana and of the pleading of the Presidential adviser on governance. Was it reckless not to use the opportunity of trying to heal the nation by using Article 103 to establish a government representing all the people?
So if the Opposition Parties have wisely or unwisely overturned the balance in the committees, the PPP has stolen a Cabinet hook, line and sinker. It is creating “inclusive government” by excluding its rivals, elected by the people. In effect, the PPP is telling the voters, that they had no right to vote as they voted. It is now clear why duly elected President Ramotar was advised to go public with the absurd charge that the Opposition had rigged the elections. It was perhaps a late attempt to disqualify the Opposition MPs.
The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights 1948 sets the test: The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government and it shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections … ” Government means President assisted and advised by the Cabinet ministers. This argument can be further expanded.