The PNC and its leaders want to abort the work of the Rodney Commission of Inquiry and they have threatened to cut funds to allow it to continue its work and to fully explore the question as to what happened in the period before and in the aftermath of Rodney’s death. The cabinet must not allow the PNC to dictate how the commission does its work and to influence whether it provides the COI with the funds it needs to complete its work.
APNU/PNC have made it clear that any efforts by the PPP/C government to approve further sums of money to support the work of the Rodney COI will be rebuffed in Parliament. This is a clear case of PNC buffoonery intended to intimidate the government and intended to misconstrue the working of the COI.
They have received support in the past from the AFC. As a citizen of Guyana, I would like to hear from the leadership of the AFC if they too will withhold further financing for the Rodney COI. The AFC has been vocal on virtually every issue with their myopic and one-eyed views. Why are they silent now on the Rodney COI?
I also have a question for the WPA, a vital part of the APNU leadership: is the position of APNU/PNC the position of the WPA? I would like to hear from Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and from the leadership of the WPA what their clear and unequivocal position is on the work of the Rodney COI.
I was never under any illusion that APNU/PNC would do anything it could do to derail the work of the Rodney COI. They tried to delay and derail it before the work started. It was clear from the beginning that David Granger and other leaders of the PNC would not cooperate with the commission. It was, further clear that the PNC leaders would establish roadblocks and barriers to prevent the work of the commission from proceeding.
Initially, the WPA and the AFC provided support to the PNC to derail the start and then the work of the COI. But there were individuals who were able to stand up on a moral platform and who accepted their responsibility to come forward. This forced the WPA to give its tentative support.
The commission has had its hands full with the number of people who want to speak about this most shameful period and the dastardly act of murdering a brilliant young Guyanese. Knowing the truth must be our national process of healing and must not be based on political implications.
The truth is that the Rodney COI is revealing information that confirms what many of us always knew – that the state machinery controlled by the PNC was linked to the murder of Walter Rodney. But the truth is also revealing the extent that the PNC went to create a brutal dictatorship. This is the truth we have talked about and which we rejected on October 5, 1992.
But this truth is too damning for the PNC to see spread across the news headlines. Not being able to stop the Rodney COI from starting, they adopted a strategy of placing lawyers to create maximum intimidation of witnesses and to distract the work of the commission. The Chairman of the COI hit it on the nail when he stated he would not allow Mr Basil Williams to spread propaganda in the commission’s work.
But the establishment of the Rodney COI was long overdue. I congratulate President Donald Ramotar for using his authority to establish it. The COI started its work with financing appropriated by the Parliament. The President, the Minister of Finance and the cabinet have a responsibility, in accordance with the constitution, to ensure that the work of the Rodney COI is completed and to ensure that the commission has all the time and the resources to complete their work as fully as possible.
It is the cabinet’s responsibility to ensure that politicians with a vested interest do not use the authority of Parliament to perversely suffocate the COI just because the results appear damning to them. Now maybe people will understand why the constitution is written the way it is: It anticipates that should politicians want to stop a legitimate and productive exercise by cutting resources, the government would be able to continue its work.
The damning truth is the PNC and its leaders have been embarrassed and have been exposed. They do not want the written report of the COI and they know that more witnesses are to come that will reveal greater wrongdoing. They are, therefore, seeking to bring the work of the Rodney COI to an end.
But the government must remain resolute in ensuring that one of the scandals of Guyana under the wrappings of state collusion is exposed and becomes a lesson that will be a catalyst for Guyana never to repeat such shadowy and criminal behaviour again.
The PNC wants to hide what its natural propensity is. Its recent congress is further proof that the PNC is what it was and will never change. There was clearly no competition for David Granger to win the leadership of the PNC. But the election was manipulated.
The truth is that people have been reminded that the PNC took our country into dictatorship and wrecked Guyana. The truth is they do not want to be exposed. They will try everything to ensure they hide the terrible truths of the PNC and ensure people do not know that the PNC of yesteryear is still the PNC.
Minister of Agriculture