The caption of Mr Dennis Wiggins’ submission in your letter columns that characterized the Alliance For Change (AFC) party thus, “The Alliance cannot confine itself to parliamentary politics and must be activist” (Stabroek News 07/10/20) is in sync with the policy of the AFC. I, however, hold the view that like some others in the society Mr Wiggins is uninformed about the activities of the party, not necessarily through any fault of his own.
The AFC recognizes that there has been a major disparity between what it is actually doing politically, as a civic-minded entity; and that which is reflected in the media. It is perhaps because of this unsatisfactory situation that Mr. Wiggins and, no doubt others in the society, are so misinformed about the level of activism of the party.
Let me remind Mr Wiggins and others that research has shown that in order to succeed in our objective to unseat the PPP/C government we need no great talent, no great potential but rather astute use of what we have and a willingness to have faith and the belief in the correctness of what we’re doing.
He should be assured that we are working to correct this media ‘blackout’ through the recently appointed Public Relations Committee whose core members are AFC National Executive Commi- ttee (NEC) members, Mrs C Hughes, Mr D Gaskin, Mr M Cheong with assistance from the AFC webmaster Mr E Marshall in New York and Ms B Harper. To date the Committee has redesigned the Sunday AFC Kaieteur News Column titled, ‘The AFC – Voices of its Principles’ which could also be viewed on the AFC website: www.afc guyana.com, as are publications of the party’s newspaper, ‘The Key’, which was last printed in July at the time when the First National Conference and elections were held.
Mr Wiggins should also be assured that in spite of what he rightly describes as ‘an ineffective and inadequate parliamentary system’, the AFC is committed to pursuing its ground-breaking legislative agenda to challenge the PPP/C administration to place on record their recalcitrance in adopting tangible democratic measures.
By raising some pertinent questions about the political environment in which the party has to operate, Mr Wiggins demonstrated an understanding about the terrain, the use of propaganda, rumour-mongering and the character assassination tactics our opponents employ to undermine the AFC leadership, so I conclude he is being deliberately provocative when he suggested that ‘on many peoples’ minds is whether the AFC is too middle class a party to engage in grass-root organizing’. I’m sure he’s aware of the historical role played by the middle classes around the world in shifting the political paradigm; but more especially the depleted state of the Guyanese middle class.
The AFC party has some six thousand members, twenty-five of whom have just been elected to serve on the first National Executive Committee (NEC) and must, therefore, bear the responsibility, guided by the ‘experienced leadership’, to engage in organizing the grass-root; surely they all couldn’t be middle class!
As Mr. Wiggins seeks to draw the AFC out of its crease to engage him publicly, the grass-root South Ruimveldt AFC group organized a luncheon last Saturday for senior citizens and children living in the ‘B’ Field, Sophia area. The occasion was held at the newly constructed Pattersen Community Centre and was the AFC group’s way of observing the party’s second year of existence on the 29th of this month. Similar activities were observed on the East Coast and on the Corentyne.
Mr. Trotman, who was recently elected leader of the party has visited all ten regions of the country already for the year, so Mr. Wiggins’ point is not only appreciated but is in the making. In months to come, the party will be unveiling some of the projects aimed at reaching out to the grass-root.
However, our friends and supporters should understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither can the AFC, which will observe its second anniversary later this month, achieve all that is expected of it in such a short time.
Contrary to the propaganda circulating in some circles, it has been a challenge raising the funds necessary to execute the party’s plans as it has been to secure the funds needed to organize our first National Conference and elections held in July.
While I’m on the subject of funding, let me take this opportunity to inform our friends and supporters that there will be another AFC fund-raising BBQ and Domino competition that will be held on Saturday, October 27 at the AFC HQs in Hadfield & Chalmers Place. BBQ could be collected from midday.
Tickets cost $500. Following this event, on November 3, the party will convene its First National Executive Committee meeting with representatives from the Diaspora and the regions attending.
Even though the AFC leadership understands the necessity of being politically active at the community level, in between national elections, in order to ‘occupy the political space’ as stated by Mr. Wiggins, there are some historical realities.
The Guyanese electorate has been conditioned to put politics behind them following months of electioneering when emotions usually run high in the politics of race. This invariably reaches its zenith at national elections where the Guyana brand of ‘winner take all’ politics leaves the Guyanese people in a kind of vortex of exhaustion, anger, disillusion and having to face the struggles for daily existence in a depressed economy of joblessness, low wages, high taxation and rampant crime.
Given this environment, it made a lot of sense for the party to focus on party business as it has been doing. From our perspective, ‘considerable experience’ and ‘knowledge of the political landscape’ so generously credited us by Mr Wiggins, this is the surest way to occupy the political space of which he speaks.
The fact that the PPP/C and the PNCR are collaborating to leave the AFC out of the political discourse may not be such a bad thing after all for the AFC party, since it is affirmation that the party is being seen as having the potential to threaten them both politically; but, alas, this will as usual spell disaster for the Guyanese people. All the more reason for what we’re about – converting the potential of the AFC into significance. This calls for doing things differently, not necessarily better.
Sheila Holder, MP