David Hinds states that Africans want power to determine “who gets, what, when and how.” Will Mr Hinds tell the Guyanese people who is entitled to do this power-sharing? Who gets to sit at the table and determine who gets what, when, where and how? Are the political parties, civic organisations or individuals (such as David Hinds) doing this carving up of the spoils of power? If political parties are doing the ‘sharing,’ does the PNC or PPP get to speak for all Africans and Indians respectively or does the AFC, ROAR and other parties also get a chance given that Indians and Africans vote for them too? Who represents the 31% of the electorate who did not care to vote in 2006 or are they excluded because they did not vote? Why should people trust corrupt and bankrupt political entities such as the PPP and PNC to decide power ‘sharing’? Race-based support for an ethnic party in an election is not necessarily support for it sharing power with anyone.
What Mr Hinds is proposing is a racially simplistic solution that will not solve anything but enlarge our racial problem which happen to be limited to two major ethnic groups at present. Given Mr Hinds’ racialized formula for ‘sharing’ power, who speaks for the Amerindians, Mixed Races, Chinese, Portuguese and foreign-born population? If the spoils are to be split on the basis of race, shouldn’t they form their own political and other activist entities purely on race and racial affiliation and promotion to get their share of power too? This is the travesty that men like Mr Hinds who masquerade as political thinkers want to hang around the neck of this country. With his approach, we will have the Amerindian People’s Party, Mixed Race People’s Movement, Chinese Revolutionary Party, Portuguese People’s Party and the Brazilian Front seeking their slice of the pie. ‘Sharing’ power based on race is a disastrous move. It will generate conflict and deepen the marginalization of the other minorities that are not African. Truthfully, Africans may end up with less if those Mixed Race individuals with African blood decide to not support Africans but to form their own group to get their own piece of the action. Mr Hinds’ solution widens ethnic fragmentation, frustration and conflict in Guyana. It is a dangerous proposal in a country that has been wrecked by ethnic division.
What will be the demographic parameters for this racialized process of ‘sharing’ power Mr Hinds proposes? Is it the 2002 Census which is now 9 years old in a country with declining Indian and African populations and increasing Amerindian and Mixed Races populations? What about those citizens who object to power-sharing? Will there be a concordant diminution of power to that particular race in the power-sharing pie to account for the objections of those dissidents of their group? When does this power-sharing process get reviewed; is it every four years or every electoral cycle or on the whims of any particular group or groups to the exclusion of others? What guarantees can be established that a particular group will not taint or manipulate the statistics to gain favour or advantage?
What Mr Hinds proposes is not power-sharing but power distribution. Instead of seeking deep-rooted solutions based on constitutional and institutional reform to protect minority rights which are definitely worth many marches in this country, Mr Hinds is favouring the division and distribution of power among the elites with the masses still strangulated by a worthless constitution and a failed institutional framework. As long as the presidency reigns supreme by virtue of constitutional power, all power resides in that individual and the office and there is no real power or any substance to power ‘sharing.’ Ironically, the PNC did not change the constitution before it departed from office to protect the African minority by shrinking the powers of the presidency when it knew fully well that the presidency could lead to untold suffering in this country. As one blogger named Kbaksh wonderfully noted, there is “too much baggage, too many chiefs, too many different ideologies and too much mistrust.”
The fattening of a few cows while the herd still suffers is not power-sharing. Institutional reform in every sector where the discrimination, advantage and marginalization of any group and individual is stopped should be the horizon. I am not sure if David Hinds and others like him can see horizons that are not just black and brown.