Guyana is in a serious downward spiral and if fundamental changes are not programmed by a set of visionary and committed leaders that include leaders in civil society, there may be untold suffering for generations to come. A cursory review of the current situation will show that crime and corruption are pervasive; the social fabric is torn, as exemplified by the upward spiral in homicides and suicides, death squads, drug trafficking, corruption, high unemployment, asylum seekers, nepotism, tensions, discrimination and marginalization, among others ills. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we all know the anxieties.
Our public institutions, especially our courts, are overwhelmed. Our jails are full to capacity, while are schools are short of resources. Our public utilities (water and electricity supplies) are unreliable and expensive. Professionals, including teachers, engineers, doctors, nurses, and many others are migrating in large numbers, because they do not see a path to progress for themselves and their families. The time is long past to be harping back, as is usually seen in the press, on who did what to whom. This is not only childish and parochial, but it is unhelpful as it creates little camps with singular issues that are never inclusive of others who may have variations on the same theme. Moreover, staying the course as promised by the PPP/C presidential candidate for the next elections is not a serious and thoughtful praxis, given the shabby state of our social, political and economic fabric and the degraded institutional and lopsided constitutional arrangements. We all know what is wrong and I need not bore you with the details of the problems and their perverse manifestation on the society. What should be stated, however, is the fact it is time to stop ‘digging holes’ for ourselves and start a process that leads to an inclusive, prosperous and just society. It is high time that we live up to our potential in a democratic society where public institutions work; where no one is above or below the law; and the constitution is a document that provides protection, freedom, and justice for all Guyanese. It is the right time to regroup and agree on an agenda of national importance; and above all, it is the opportune time to push the restart button, for we owe it to the next generation, to create a platform for progress, just as our grandparents did for us.
The election in a few months could be “the beginning of our finest hour,” if we collectively dump many of the things that did not work and will not work, even with the best of intentions. We have had too many years of chaos and mayhem. Transitioning to something new requires collective and focused action, recognizing that an interwoven whole, which is the Guyanese nation, is always bigger and better than the sum of all its parts.
Therefore, the next election is not about which party wins, but whether Guyana as a whole wins. The next election is not about who will be the next president or minister in government as we have been programmed to believe, but whether every hard-working citizen can provide for their families in a system that is fair, inclusive and responsive to their needs. The next election is not about what has gone before; rather it is about national standards of excellence that are maintained for all. The next elections is not about who holds public office, instead, it is about holding those persons accountable for their actions in public office, as they disburse public funds, or as they apply the laws of the land regardless of one’s ethnic make-up, religion, gender or creed. Above all, it is about leaving a legacy that the next generation can be proud of as they build on what we have collectively built. These are the issues which matter most. The electorate should not let the politicians play games with their votes. They should not let politicians play games with their insecurities; and they should not let politicians play games with their future. They have the power to change all that, for we had enough. They should make this election matter, for the opportunity to change course and set a new path may not come, except a long time hence.
C Kenrick Hunte