Please permit me the opportunity to comment on a recently aired programme of Plain Talk (aired on Oct 16th on WRHM channel 7), hosted by Mr. Christopher Ram and featuring Mr. Ramon Gaskin (not a relative) as his guest.
During the discussion, which centred largely on the upcoming elections and its various contestants, Mr. Gaskin used the word “disgraceful” to describe the political opposition parties. This was in response to Mr. Ram’s accusation that the political opposition parties have been silent in the face of the abusive use of the media and other State resources by the current PPP government.
I doubt whether either of these gentlemen has attended any of the more than 70 public meetings held by the Alliance For Change across Guyana over the last few months. Issues such as the CNS licence suspension, the PPP’s misuse of NCN TV and radio, their misuse of the contingencies fund, the use of state funds to host events that clearly promote the PPP’s presidential candidate and many more are regularly discussed at these meetings.
I was also quite taken aback by Gaskin’s suggestion that the AFC is not concerned about these matters because “they think they are winning”. The AFC is committed to bringing about peaceful political change in Guyana and has been taking its message directly to the people of Guyana village by village in all three counties.
We are encouraged by the reception we’ve been getting everywhere we go. There can be no doubt that traditional supporters of both major parties are slowly coming around to the understanding that the AFC is a credible political alternative to the dominance of the PPP and PNC. This does not mean that we “think we are winning”. It is the people of Guyana who have to decide which party will govern for the next five-year term and our job at this point is to campaign for their votes.
While I find his programme consistently interesting, I am sensing a frustration on the part of Mr. Ram which is directed at the opposition and which I believe is interfering with his ability to reason. The fact that he may not have heard the AFC’s position on an issue does not equate to the party’s silence on that matter. I suspect that he is among the many Guyanese who are unhappy with the incompetence, corruption and mediocrity of the current government. I too am one of them, and I have chosen to be part of a movement that openly and legitimately seeks to replace this government.
My reason is simple. The problem, as I see it, is a political one and therefore requires a political solution. The political options available to Guyanese for the last fifty years have been defined by ethnicity as opposed to ideology or principles.
This has allowed the two major parties to ‘own’ dependable blocks of votes without necessarily delivering anything in return, and has contributed to a situation where the party supported by the larger of Guyana’s two main ethnic groups becomes the most likely winner of one hundred percent of the political power.
Such a scenario will inevitably lead to complacency and delusions of impunity. This is where we are now and the solution will not be found in anger, bitterness or violence but by providing attractive options to a let-down electorate.
I consider the AFC to be an attractive option capable not only of governing effectively but of breaking the stranglehold that the PPP and the PNC have had over our population for so long, and opening the political space to other groups and persons who have been crowded out of any meaningful participation therein. As such, how we go about attracting voters is not necessarily designed to appeal to Mr. Ram and Mr. Gaskin but to the thousands of Guyanese whose only means of voicing their discontent is their collective and peaceful vote for change. There is nothing disgraceful in this unless, of course, one is opposed to democracy, change or peace. In this regard Gaskin’s own admission that he was a “big supporter” of Libya’s Gaddafi cannot be viewed in isolation.
Mr. Gaskin also stated emphatically that there were no new people in the AFC. He managed to draw this conclusion after groping through his mental register of political personalities, totally disregarding the simple truth that most of the “new people” within the AFC were never involved in politics. He was clearly unfamiliar with the AFC’s many personalities and, rather than admit this, chose to deny the existence of that which he could not, did not or would not see. Hopefully our electorate will prove to be less stubborn.