Elections every five years are just not enough

Dear Editor,

Twenty years after Mikhail Gorbachev fell from power in the failed coup, all of the Soviet republics have swapped central planning for market economics.  So too has Guyana since 1989 under Hoyte’s ERP, but to what effect? The PPP government has sustained this so-called market economy with a strong injection of authoritarianism shot through with corruption.  The Berlin Wall may have fallen but for us democracy is on trial in Guyana.  The world can learn some important lessons from Guyana: elections every 5 years are just not enough. We need to build some strong institutions that are independent of the executive but this will never happen under a PPP government since they are in love with Burnham’s constitution and the weak institutions we have in Guyana today.

Guyana has now evolved into a full-fledged corrupt state. Doing your job in Guyana is just not an option any more.

Guyana has come from a culture and history of oppression; first the colonial rulers, then Burnham and now the current regime.  As a people, we have spent too much time under oppression and this can be one of the explanations why our people have not found the spirit to resist more in 2011 as yet.  The Alliance for Change (AFC) offers hope to these crushed people that within 120 days of getting into government, we shall start the process of changing the constitution to truly give power to the people.  The AFC shall take our case to the people in a referendum.

What we observe is a total crushing of the institutions of state and civil society.  All that is left are traces of independent private business people, maybe a Yesu Persaud here and Robert Badal there, and of course Chris Ram.  However, there is a serious race in the private sector today by many to crawl over each other to surrender to the regime.

Guyana has many laws and many organizations, but what we do not have is enough people functioning within an ethical framework like Edgar Heyliger, to stand up to the ruling elite and in the process build national institutions. This rot started a long time ago but accelerated in the last decade. Yet we choose not to learn.

To undo this mess where private businesses and rent-seeking officials think it is normal to exploit weak organizations to amass huge wealth will take years.  So let us be clear, the AFC is not promising honey and milk for all from Day 1.  It would take years to find the Guyanese from all over the world to come back home to join those living in Guyana to rebuild, re-brand, re-orient and remould the nation.  It will be hard work.

Today this emergent oligarchy of business-political clans who have been able to kidnap the state will pull out all stops to retain power. The safest bet for all the people of Guyana is the AFC.  We are playing no games, we have told the PNC in clear, unambiguous terms, no, we not joining any coalition of convenience.

Despite the significant setbacks, the cause of sharing the economic pie more fairly among more of the people is not dead; the cause of reducing the gap between the haves and the have-nots is not dead; the cause of moulding the nation with strong and independent institutions is not dead.  The AFC is pushing ahead with its electoral efforts to sensitize the people to the socio-political and economic excess of the ruling cabal.  We are going back to basics where our army of volunteers is meeting the people house by house, dam by dam, village by village; sensitizing them to the situation.

We the people have two choices, vote for more of the same (PNC-APNU, PPP and TUF) or vote for change.

Yours faithfully,
Sasenarine Singh

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