I am sure it is well documented somewhere that during the run-up to the recently concluded elections, I was a vociferous critic of the old regime and had serious misgivings about Donald Ramotar’s ability to be the nation’s chief executive. It is early days, and with a cloud of legitimacy (hanging over his government) evidenced by the cries I heard at the Stabroek Market Square on Friday night and the PPP/C razor thin parliamentary majority, no one knows what the future will bring. However, what I do know and what I have observed during the first week of his administration does not bode well for the people of Guyana. His first mistake as a chief executive was failing to close the door behind his predecessor Bharrat Jagdeo. Two days after being sworn in as President he returned Jagdeo’s team to the field and included a few misfits and incompetents of his own. Operating as if he was given a clear mandate by the electorate, this CEO ignored the signals from his base and the majority of the people and opted for one party rule.
By essentially keeping the Jagdeo cabinet and failing to listen to the people who voted for change, Mr Ramotar has set in train a prescription for possible gridlock. I will not enter into the events of December 6, or what some are already calling Black Tuesday, but old people used to say, “Show me your company and I will tell you who you are.” I remember when the American car company Chrysler was failing and a new CEO Lee Iacocca was brought on board to turn the company around. Realizing that the consumers had lost confidence in his company’s product, this CEO met directly with the consumers, found out what they wanted, and then went back to his head office, fired the old team and put a new winning team in place. One wonders what President Ramotar and by extension, the Guyanese people have to gain when Robert Persaud, Clement Rohee, Leslie Ramsammy, Juan Edgehill and some proven incompetents, are let loose once again on the people. Mr Rohee failed as Minister of Home Affairs; examine the crime stats and police corruption and he gets an ‘F’; Robert Persaud wasted billions in the agri-sector, and failed to win the PPP a majority at the elections, even though he out-spent the opposition by many millions. Dr Ramsammy is still to reveal the details about his association with Roger Khan and the surveillance gear; and Mr Edgehill to Finance? Sounds like somebody’s idea of a poor joke. One wonders what will become of the other Jagdeo fixtures like Odinga Lumumba, Henry Greene and Kwame McCoy, who were untouchables and operated above the law during the previous regime.
It is obvious that this President either lacks the courage or advisers, so I have some advice for him. First order of business, close the door on the Jagdeo era; send Henry Greene home, he is past the retirement age, and an embarrassment to the law enforcement community; reshuffle the cabinet – yes, I know he just picked them, but people know he is new so they will cut him some slack. He should pick a cabinet that not only looks like Guyana, but truly represents the percentage splits at the elections.
He should bring in a few technocrats to run some of the key ministries and government corporations and get Dr Roger Luncheon as far away from the Office of the President as he possibly can; he has become an institution man. Also if Mr Ramotar wants to survive as president, he must immediately go to the street and listen to the youth. I was at Stabroek Square on Friday night. They are hurting, they are mad and they are the majority of the population. He cannot survive without their support and they will not allow him to ignore them. The police cannot use excessive force on them again, for they have served notice on his government and the leadership of the police force. Bringing charges against Brigadier (rtd) Collins, Attorney James Bond and the leaders of that march was a dumb move. In addition he should order the Attorney General to immediately convene a commission of inquiry into all the extra-judicial killings in Guyana. Then he could have requested from the Representative of the PPP/C list, that Odinga Lumumba be removed from the list of parliamentarians. By keeping him on the list conveys the impression that bad behaviour is being rewarded for narrow political interest.