JOPP have decided that they will form a partnership for national unity (APNU), to contest the upcoming elections. Already the partnership is being criticized in the media, by comedic and serious journalists and commentators. The smaller parties and groupings are being ridiculed, and the coalition dismissed as a non-factor against the incumbent PPP. Today I want to ask all Guyanese to step back and take an unprejudiced view of our country and examine what one party rule has brought us over the last forty-five years.
Editor, the pages of our newspapers are filled with the horror stories of a nation that is crying out for leadership and good governance. It is my opinion that we have reached a critical point and we can no longer afford the luxury of putting off or delaying a transfer of political power to a government of national unity. We can’t wait, because the PPP after 19 years has been unable to bring crime under control, and despite their claims of infrastructure development and economic improvements, the gap between the rich and the poor has never been larger in our nation’s history. Over the last 19 years, our once much vaunted educational system that produced the Luckhoos and Ramphals, has a high dropout rate, and many of our young people are ill prepared for even menial jobs after finishing high school. After almost half of a century of one-party rule in Guyana, we are still poor, we still mostly vote along racial lines and people are still flocking to western embassies every day to get away from the land of their birth. Editor, the fact that people are still emigrating at alarming rates is an indictment of our current politics and leadership. No one runs away from a good thing.
The fact that the JOPP has formed a partnership for national unity is a step in the right direction. For years we have given lip service to national unity and many governments including the present PPP government promised to promote policies that would bring this nation together. Look around at the situation in Guyana today and what we see is triumphalism, nepotism and a nation badly fractured by class, race and political affiliation. We see once vibrant communities like Linden, and New Amsterdam mired in unemployment. We see mansions by the sea while in some areas we still have pit latrines and live in one bedroom homes. We see lawlessness and thuggish behaviour by our leaders and thievery by some of their friends and business associates and nothing happens; everyone knows what is happening yet nothing happens. There have been massacres and assassinations, and no one is held accountable – no inquiries, no investigations, no justice. We have a police chief that orders his divisional commanders not to communicate with the press, suppressing the public’s right to information, yet there is no reprimand or correction from the Home Affairs Ministry. People are afraid to express their political affiliation and support for the opposition for fear that lucrative government contacts will be withheld or taken away, or that they will be singled out by the regime for different treatment; this is Guyana today.
The partnership for national unity must be given a chance and an opportunity to compete on a level playing field. There must be equal time given in the national media for all parties to make their case to the nation. We must listen and judge based on the issues and the party platform and not on what happened or someone’s view of what happened forty years ago. The fierce urgency of now has descended on this nation and we must shun the old order. Voting race has gotten us into this mess, and to continue to do so will not get us out; in fact it will see the continuation of the trend, where our best and our brightest vote with their feet. APNU and its leadership must continue to build the partnership to include labour, the clergy, social and religious groups and prominent individuals. One party rule will not cure what ails this country, but a united front that looks like Guyana, and seeks to address all the various constituencies that make up this dear land of ours certainly will.
Editor, there will be some who would like to see a continuation of the status quo, because they benefit immensely from it. However the large mass of poor and unemployed Guyanese who wake up every day struggling to make ends meet, hoping that they will not be a victim of crime, are begging for change. A partnership for national unity (APNU) gives Guyana the opportunity to have shared governance that will promulgate and legislate policies that mirror the wishes of all the people. Most of us don’t want much; we want our children to be properly educated, our neighbourhoods to be safe and crime-free, and decent jobs that pay decent wages. Our women want to be treated fairly and respected as equals and our youths want something they can rally around not run away from. We want hope; we want the simple pleasures and guarantees of the good life. I welcome and support a partnership for national unity.