ACDA believes shared governance can only flow from constitutional reform that has public input

Dear Editor,

Instead of a new vision for Guyana, this new year begins with the three political parties asking Guyanese to play a game of three-card monte with them. First, the Leader of the Opposition calls for executive power sharing. This is immediately followed up by the AFC and its supporter Emile Mervin who argue against it, fearing the PPP and PNC would conspire to leave them out. Then to makes things worse, President Jagdeo concocts the statement that the rift in the PNC is the reason why he has backed away from “inclusive governance”.

In case the President is unaware of how the citizens of Guyana view him, everyone in Guyana knows he is not someone to be believed or trusted and that he would never share power unless he tries to manipulate a third term out of it. After all, in a power sharing arrangement, he could and would argue that the two term limit was under a different dispensation.

Let me use this opportunity to reject these Machiavellian utterings by the three political parties who want to continue to rule us and not govern us for their own greedy self-centred selves.

First of all, ACDA will not support any negotiated “shared governance” between the PPP and PNC or any other group. What is required is constitutional reform that has public participation and which gets rid of the Executive Presidency and Party Lists. It should also include Parliamentarians competing in constituency elections and not from party lists.

The current public display of their insincerity at the beginning of the  new year is because politicians are interested in power sharing or sharing power among themselves, while what Guyana needs is “shared and good governance”.

Power sharing and shared governance are two fundamentally different concepts and realities.

Anyone reading the PPP’s “inclusive government” paper and the PNC’s “power sharing” paper will see the difference. The PPP’s idea of inclusive government is that of having a cricket team in which Africans who do not agree with their corrupt policies and non-vision, are the water boys and the 12th, 13th and 14th men. As such, Africans are included in the team (not even the best Africans at that) but don’t bowl or bat unless the game has been rained out. Like the current crop of prominent Africans in the PPP, they however dress up in immaculate white attire as if illustrating their purity while boisterously talking about “we team” winning even though they are excluded from any meaningful participation other than as paid token night watchmen and women. The call for inclusive government by the PPP and President Jagdeo’s current statements has been and continues to be a purposeful deception, a broken public trust and an international indecency.

Kwame Gilbert has been appointed as a Member of Parliament because many Indians are now becoming Pentecostal Christians and he is there to shepherd them into the fold at the next elections.

The PNC’s model of shared governance is also not good for Guyana. Their version calls for the captains of the PPP and PNC to select a cricket team by each captain choosing every other player (ministry). The result would be the sharing of racial spoils, continued and enhanced corruption, a dysfunctional and non-competitive team, destruction of democracy and the marginalization of Guyanese as a whole. Guyanese of all races and creeds should reject like ACDA does, both of these forms of political affronts to democracy.

ACDA believes neither the PPP nor PNC should be allowed to rule Guyana.

What is needed is a system that allows all Guyanese to be represented and in which Civil Society plays a prominent role. Currently Civil Society is left out and businessmen who claim to represent Civil Society are politically compromised, acting in their own self-interests at the expense of the common man. Examples abound.

With regard to the AFC, they continue to not have any ideas of their own (except a Freedom of Information Act). They have offered no vision with regard to good governance because they are anti-PPP and anti-PNC first, and pro nothing second. Instead of utilizing valuable time fighting for better governance through constitutional reform and civic participation before the next election in 2011, the AFC is fighting for something that is important but not as critical as Constitutional Reform. ACDA believes that any change in political architecture must involve all citizens of Guyana whether through a referendum or some other mechanism.

Guyanese citizens need to participate in defining the political system that will be used to govern them and not be driven by the intellectually, spiritually, culturally and emotionally challenged group of three-card monte tricksters who call themselves our political elites. Indeed Emile Mervin is correct when he continually states shared governance will never work with the current crop of politicians.

Missing in the debate by all the politicians and their surrogates are two issues. One is the reality that the Westminster system has failed Guyana and something more appropriate and practical needs to be put in place especially given the deep racial insecurities that exist.

Secondly, the greatest failure of the Jagdeo Presidency has been the lack of economic vision he has shown. Guyana is well-endowed with a wide variety of resources and these have been squandered or ignored because of party paramouncty, corruption, political functional illiteracy,

incompetence and sheer stupidity. The current floods prove this as many Guyanese have been greeted by increased poverty and sheer misery for the new year.

The current economic crisis in the sugar industry provides a visible example of economic malfeasance and political incompetence. We are producing sugar at 17 to 21 cents when the world market price is 8 cents.

Hence we have invested US S180 million dollars to reduce our costs to 11 cents in the next five years if everything goes right. For this to happen, we need to grow more sugar to make this mega investment profitable.

Is this in conflict with our need to grow more food for a hungry world given global warming? Wouldn’t it be more profitable and more sensible to grow more food and leave bio-diesel to Brazil?

Here are a few questions and thoughts for these non-visionary bosses controlling our destiny.

How will executive power sharing work when we have an Executive President who is above the Law and who can choose to be the Minister of Communications, the Minister of Energy or the Minister of the Environment whenever he wants? Will the Prime Minister have these same powers?

How does this power sharing or shared governance work when political parties use a “list” system? This “list” system is both anti-democratic and criminal. We currently have people from Georgetown representing communities whose names they cannot even spell and some of

them even believe Bartica is an island.

Why shouldn’t the Diaspora have two or three MPs in Parliament. The reality is that there are just as many Guyanese in the Diaspora as at home, many of them far more competent that those at home.

Why are there not designated MP seats for Amerindians who own 14% of our country and whose way of life and culture are being decimated.

Why should the Guyanese public trust politicians who are also lawyers. Many of our politicians are lawyers and many of them defend drug lords.

We have a criminal economy. Shouldn’t it be an issue of moral decency that lawyers who chose to defend drug lords (and it is their legal right) should not run for political office?

Very shortly, ACDA will be publishing a document on shared governance. The goal of this model is to promote a just multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-party society in which each citizen is equal before the Law.

Yours faithfully,
Eric Phillips

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