The GAWU/GuySuCo saga is yet one more battle in the ‘war’ between President Jagdeo and Freedom House. Additionally it intensifies the PPP dilemma of having to choose a presidential candidate from among Ramotar, Ramkarran, and Nagamootoo (for all practical purposes Mr Rohee is already seen as an also ran) and may have provided an opening for Mr Nagamootoo to reinsert himself into the conversation. For as much as President Jagdeo may wish, Mr Nagamootoo will not disappear and as Mr Jagdeo’s tenure draws to a close, his capacity to use coercion as a weapon to bring party stalwarts in line is diminishing. Meanwhile Mr Nagamootoo’s popularity among party rank and file grows stronger and should others perceived as victimized, such as the Chanderpals – Navin and Indra – as well as those who would have been chafing at the bit under Mr Jagdeo’s tenure, (mostly the old guard), decide to begin to cut loose the chains that bound them to Mr Jagdeo, then Mr Nagamootoo may well fancy his chances – chances that can only improve if Mr Ramkarran’s call and subsequent argument that the presidential candidate should be chosen by secret ballot if there are two or more candidates, gains acceptance, as it should.
Indeed Mr Ramkarran is correct in stating that the secret ballot is a traditional PPP practice at almost every level, and certainly so for election of members of the Central Committee, the highest decision-making organ of the PPP, although it is well known that delegates to Congress are presented with slates of candidates whom they are instructed to support by their respective organizers/certain leaders and other slates, which they are instructed not to support. Also, one wonders whether secret balloting was used when discussions centred on a replacement for Cheddi Jagan, especially since evidence seems to suggest that Janet Jagan imposed herself after no candidate was able to win consensus support in the ExCo, supposedly claiming that Cheddi had mandated her as successor. At that time Mr Nagamootoo thought he was robbed. This time round, the question is who determines candidate eligibility and how does that process work? Mr Nagamootoo would hope that this process is not arbitrary and that not only will a secret ballot be allowed but that it would not be compromised.
From a PPP perspective it would make a lot of sense for Mr Ramotar to gracefully drop out of the race, not only so he can save face, but also because it is becoming clearer with each passing day, that he is not a viable candidate for the PPP. Since announcing his candidacy, Mr Ramotar has been putting his foot in his mouth. The latest example is his assertion that parliament would not accede to an AFC request to debate the sugar industry. Does Mr Ramotar not know that such a decision lies in the purview of the Speaker and not within the ambit of the PPP General Secretary?
In effect, Mr Ramotar’s tactical withdrawal will ensure that the PPP closes ranks around one candidate – either Mr Ramkarran or Mr Nagamootoo – and eliminate the fault lines between the government and the party’s old guard, fault lines that have become more pronounced as a consequence of the GAWU/GuySuCo saga. In fact I would venture to declare that Donald Ramotar’s candidacy would cost the PPP the elections, and so too would any move to declare Moses Nagamootoo ineligible. As a matter of fact, all things considered, it seems clear that the PPP’s best shot at returning to office lies with Moses Nagamootoo as presidential candidate. Among other things, Mr Nagamootoo is the only contender who is grounded in the party’s base and who has cross-over appeal.
For the political opposition and particularly so the AFC, can this disenchantment of sugar workers with the PPP be transformed into a paradigm shift away from Dr Jagan’s party? Some would seem to think so, although not only does Guyana not have any history of disenchantment being transformed into mass political support, but also such transformation would necessitate a change in ethos and psyche and one wonders whether there is enough time to achieve this psycho-social goal, though it certainly is worth a try.
But back to the GAWU/GuySuCo drama: the GuySuCo board, through its chairman, Dr Nanda Gopaul, claimed that the de-recognition threat was a tactic, never meant to be enforced. If so, this would indeed be the first time anywhere in history that a threat of de-recognition has been thus used, even though the current industrial climate worldwide is becoming more and more anti-union.
Besides, how can a threat never meant to be enforced, achieve the desired result? Indeed such a strategy makes little sense given the dynamics of union/management relationship.
Also, the GuySuCo Board, through Donald Ramotar, claimed that the de-recognition threat was not issued by the board but that it appeared to have been a management decision. How can a state entity management issue a de-recognition threat without seeking the board’s input, especially given that the board answers to the head of state? And, as a member of the board, should Mr Ramotar not definitively know who issued the threat and how this came about?