For the first time in the life of the Cooperative Republic, we have a minority government, and some may say this may not bode well for the future. My personal opinion is that this is the best political gift ever presented to the politicians by the electorate. Let us cooperate for Guyana or be exposed. Thank you voters!
Would the Ramotar government be weak, unstable and incoherent? I say, unless President Ramotar wants to be the head of a weak, unstable and incoherent government, he can have a very effective government; but the mantra is – let us cooperate for Guyana. For sure, once broad agreements are reached with the majority political opposition, Guyana is on a roll. But it is the broad agreements that will require statesmanship from Donald, David and Khemraj. This is the time for real people who have a genuine care for the nation, not for political predators. I have every reason to believe that all three of these gentlemen genuinely cares for their nation and its future and thus one must remain hopeful.
Thus there is little explanation to justify why seasoned politicians like Ralph Ramkarran, Seepaul Narine, Indra Chanderpaul and Navin Chanderpaul and even Shaik Baksh are not in the cabinet to bring maturity to that group. How can the PPP find a place for a Bishop who does not have a clue about the workings of the Finance Ministry? What is wrong with Jennifer Webster? As a trained accounts graduate, where would she better serve – Human Services or Finance? Isn’t this a fine example of marginalizing the better skilled and promoting the incompetent?
Then we have the case of Minister Ashni Singh who displayed an intemperate, uncompromising attitude at the Transparency International conference. Are these people aware that 48.6% is not 100%? In my deliberations with some politicians a question was put on the table: “Are these cases of political incompetence or are these deliberate strategies by the PPP to force a vote of no-confidence against the minority government, thus crystallizing new elections?“ Well if it is a deliberate strategy to force a no-confidence vote; they have a long time to wait since I am being told that Gecom cannot be ready before 18 months.
What makes this strategy extremely risky for the PPP is that too many in the sugar belt have now confided in us that they regretted voting for the PPP after observing the quality of the cabinet. Further, many in the Central Corentyne sugar belt who voted solidly AFC said they did the right thing and they will vote solidly AFC when elections are called again. It has gotten to a point where sugar workers are telling us they are willing to become AFC political activists because they want to support our activism for the 20% salary increase across the board, and they believe the PPP will hide this money for their business partners. I have evidence of women in Whim, Port Mourant, Albion and Bath Settlement who told us they voted PPP but are sorry now, and if they had a chance to vote again they will vote solidly for the AFC.
Why? They were observers to PPP actions immediately after the results were announced, against the local AFC activists in these areas. So my challenge to the PPP is, continue with your high-stakes political gimmckry; people are in the mood to convert 48.6% to 39% using the ballot box. Government cannot, I repeat cannot, be perceived to be governing in a majoritarian manner. It is a guaranteed recipe for deadlocked politics, and the only loser will be the PPP. The PPP must get accustomed to frequent parliamentary defeat, drastic changes to their budget recommendations, excessive demands for justification of contract awards and demands for enquiry into the operations of state institutions such as the police, GRA, etc. Parliamentary defeats are fine in a minority government; it is not a reason to believe that the majority has lost confidence in the government.
What is clear is if the PPP is to preserve their electoral support, they had better kiss wholesale corruption goodbye and pay the people the 20% from the financial dividends they obtain thereby. The sultanate that existed prior to November 28 is now dead.
The politicians will be called upon to spend an inordinate amount of time in political dialogue with the political opposition. Thus more than ever, the cadre of permanent secretaries must be skilful enough to run the government in the absence of the politicians. Roles, rules and responsibility should be the order of the day going forward. The permanent secretaries must monitor the utterances in parliament more closely and always be ready to help the inter-party parliamentary negotiations, since negotiations will be the norm rather than the exception for the next 5 years.
I know the opposition, especially the members of my AFC family, is ready to work with the government for the good of Guyana, but the key words are, put Guyana first. The restraint shown by David Granger when his comrades were wrongfully shot in the back, demonstrated leadership that is necessary in these times. I thank Mr Granger for exercising the maturity required to confront this act of provocation.
In conclusion, ultimately this minority government will only work if the politicians allow it to work, particularly the politicians from the governing party. However, the opposition, the cadre of permanent secretaries and the media all have important roles to play in sharing information, exposing corruption and facilitating each other so that the government can do good for Guyana. Can we do it? I still believe, even after the initial mistakes of the Ramotar administration, yes, we still can!