There has understandably been some degree of unease among the APNU faithful over my criticism of the coalition on a ‘Plain Talk‘ television programme aired on Sunday, January 6. After all, I am an APNU member by virtue of the WPA’s membership of the coalition. But our political culture, as Professor Nigel Westmaas recently reminded us, does not take kindly to criticisms from the inside.
The big problem for some APNU people is my allocation of a failing grade to the coalition while giving the AFC a passing grade. But in the usual haste to pronounce on my comments, it seems as if some commentators have missed what the grades were allocated for. Maybe they have not watched the programme, which is available on my website guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com and on Demerara Waves, or carefully read the news report on the programme by GT Online News.
I have read comments to the effect that I gave the APNU’s parliamentary work an ‘F’ grade. Not true. While I alluded to the coalition’s ineffective use of its parliamentary clout as a bargaining tool, the ‘F’ grade was given specifically for the APNU’s failure to pursue its platform promise to work for a government of national unity and not for its overall parliamentary work. By the same token the passing grade was given to the AFC for more effectively pursuing its platform promises.
Let me reiterate what I have said publicly before. I commend the APNU and the AFC for using their parliamentary majority to improve parliamentary oversight of the executive. But I continue to believe that those who voted (the majority of voters) for these two parties did not vote just for parliamentary oversight of the executive branch of government. More importantly, they – particularly those who voted for the APNU – voted for an end to one-party government. This is what was put to them by the APNU and they endorsed it with their energies, passion and votes. That the APNU, after a year, has not taken up this cause either in parliament or outside of it is more than a minor mistake.
Contrary to what some political people have contended, as Brother Eusi Kwayana has recently pointed out, we do not need constitutional reform as a prerequisite for a national government. Such a government is essential to the political solution that we have all spoken about since 1955. And the opposition parties do not have to wait on the PPP to start the process. I have argued before that any extra-parliamentary dialogue or parliamentary cooperation with the executive government should be premised on movement towards a national government.
As for the charges that I am washing dirty linen in public, I can only plead guilty. But I don’t think it’s a vice. Those who bothered to watch the programme should note that I placed the primary, though not total, responsibility for the APNU’s failure to take up the cause of a national government on the party to which I belong—WPA. In other words, my criticism of the APNU was simultaneously a form of self criticism.