The Alliance For Change is profoundly disappointed, but not the least bit surprised at the slandering of the political opposition at the PPP’s youth event at the International Conference Centre. Participants were told the AFC goes to Berbice, Linden and the hinterland regions with contrasting messages, where we suggest to Berbicians that the government favours Linden and the hinterland and neglects Berbice. Then they were told the party goes to Linden and the hinterland positing that the administration favours Berbice and neglects Linden and the hinterland. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The message of the AFC throughout the length and breadth of Guyana has been one that is premised on change, peace, harmony and forgiveness. We have championed, perhaps more than any other political party, the causes of the sugar worker in Berbice, the bauxite worker in Berbice and the small farmer in Paramakatoi in a way that pursues their common interest of economic well-being.
The only thing that is contrasting about our work in these regions is its distinct variance from the indifference shown by the government. We encourage our young people to study the PPP’s response to the plight of the bauxite workers in Berbice.
It is certainly alarming that the PPP at this early stage of its campaign has chosen to adopt the strategy of slander. In a functioning democracy, there are supposed to be viable avenues for redress for those who are victims of such untruthfulness. We have on previous occasions pointed to the referee role of Gecom in ensuring fairness. That body has however displayed a marked reluctance to be so inclined.
The President has asserted too, “… the Alliance For Change has a way of going to different parts of the country to divide along racial lines.” We challenge the PPP to produce one sentence emanating from the AFC in which such can be inferred. However, we would not be holding our breath in this regard. We remind the young people of this country that it is the President who had to be chided by the ERC for racially charged statements at Babu Jaan. The ERC, closely tied to the government, has previously cleared statements made by the AFC’s Presidential Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan. The ERC has also sent observers to all our meetings and have found nothing untoward so far.
Khemraj Ramjattan along with Raphael Trotman and Sheila Holder in 2006 accomplished an unprecedented feat in the history of the Anglo-Caribbean by winning 5 parliamentary seats (6, if you count the one stolen) at their first electoral entreaty of the Guyanese people. Messrs Ramotar and Jagdeo inherited their party edifice from the Jagans whose legacy they have completely abandoned. We encourage the young people of Guyana to investigate Mr Jagdeo’s retirement rewards which Mr Ramotar is certainly enamoured with. They, like all Guyanese, will be aghast at the figure of some 36 million dollars per annum.
Mr Ramjattan has also served as Vice President and President of the Guyana Bar Association and as President of the Gandhi Youth Organisation Sports Club, and he is currently engaged in a grass roots project intended to build a cricket nursery and also to promote educational upliftment irrespective of race. Such initiatives engaging youths from primarily poor families are what grounds Mr Ramjattan to the harsh reality of Guyanese society.
The AFC is thus disappointed, but not surprised that the PPP has failed to capitalise on a sizeable youth turnout to articulate a vision of youth development in our country, but rather chosen to electioneer with innuendoes laden with a racist subtext. We suspect that this failure is largely as a result of the absence of any vision for youth development.
An AFC government, on the other hand, will stop importing computers and will order from local computer manufacturers instead. The resulting hundreds of jobs created would go mostly to our young people. The AFC will revive government mechanical workshops, some of which were the best in the Caribbean not so long ago, to serve as vocational training centres for our youth. The AFC will also embark upon a comprehensive programme toward the retention of our teachers, including increasing salaries, and will not be seeking foreign recruits. Unlike the PPP simply telling the youth to go out there and do your best, the AFC will actually equip our youth with the tools to succeed.
Finally, I remain confident in the intelligence of our young people to make the right choices for themselves, not just based on the words of this government, but its actions.
Actions such as those embodied in the recent case of the 14-year-old youth, Twyon Thomas, who was brutally tortured by employees of the state in a police station, and after he was awarded a paltry 6.5 million dollars in compensation, the government has now refused to pay it.