The PNC when in power did not amend the constitution to protect African Guyanese should it ever lose office

Dear Editor,

Political power in this country is a zero-sum game thanks to the PNC and more pointedly to Forbes Burnham, who replaced a good (not great, but good) constitution with a monstrosity in 1980. This 1980 constitution was not about a political party or about the people of Guyana or about African Guyanese, the PNC’s main ethnic constituency. It was about a single man’s megalomania and his misguided sense of invincibility (maybe he believed he would live to a 100 years). What the PNC did in 1980 was that it sealed the future fate of African Guyanese in many ways. The PNC had sufficient opportunity from at least 1985 with his demise to before the election of 1992 to implement constitutional and institutional reform that would protect African Guyanese and other minorities in the future following free and fair elections where ethnic voting would put the heavily Indian-supported PPP into power for a long time. Anyone could have seen that writing on the wall. The PNC had to have known of this distinct probability. Yet, as the political entity that claims to represent the majority of an entire ethnic group and received votes from that majority, it did absolutely nothing to at least protect that group in a future it knew would be aligned according to race.

The PNC could have engineered constitutional and institutional reform before 1992 that focused on (1) severely reducing the powers of the presidency, (2) strengthening minority rights protection, (3) establishing institutional reforms that strengthened minority protection and equality of opportunity, (4) creating bodies, entities and organisations that deepened equality and provided strong oversight to government action and (5) reducing the power, scope and size of government. The PNC already had a rigged electoral and referendum system that it could have used to implement and entrench these changes constitutionally making them foolproof and tamper-proof by future governments. However, the PNC failed African Guyanese in particular and Guyanese in general. A great opportunity to rewrite the constitution to benefit the minorities of this country of minorities was missed. The presidency continues to destroy this nation. All groups including Indians would have benefited, as while Indian-Guyanese are the largest ethnic group, it is not an absolute majority group (50% or more of the entire population). In fact, with the Indian and African population declining steadily, we will become a nation of large ethnic minority groups in about 20 years.

Instead of beneficial change to protect its constituency and the Guyanese public in general, some charlatans who sat atop the PNC heap in 1992 ran for the hills leaving the African masses with no constitutional or institutional protection against exactly what they complain of today. It was a classic act of the shallow thinking, missing foresight and ineptitude of a party that many Africans will show up to the polls in October 2011 and vote for. Seriously, why should Africans vote for the PNC when the PNC insulted Africans and the future of the African people so terribly prior to 1992? Why vote for a party whose actions and omissions have enabled the ethnic-based marginalization of Africans since 1992?

Similarly, why should Indians vote for the PPP when the PPP is just like the PNC as its soup drinkers in chief will flee if this political landscape ever gets changed. The PPP never implemented any dramatic changes to protect minorities except for lip service, yet they show up at the feet of the Amerindians trying to buy their vote. These charlatans running the PNC and the PPP do not believe in real change. They like the 1980 Constitution. As long as the soup keeps leaking they are fine. The PNC bears significant blame for the plight of Africans in this country just like the PPP for the struggles of Indians in this land.

Yours faithfully,
M Maxwell

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