After 25 years, Dr Faith Harding has resigned from the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) central executive, saying that the party has sidelined her.
Dr Harding, 65, who remains a member of the PNCR, does not rule out working for the current government for the good of the people of the country.
However, although persons from within the PPP/C have approached her, she ruled out joining it, explaining that the governing party and the opposition party “are the same.” She has also received an invitation from some members of the AFC to join that party. “I wouldn’t join the PPP, but that doesn’t say I wouldn’t work for the government, but I have no interest in the PPP,” she said.
Dr Harding, a psychologist, confirmed that she has been approached to work with the government but she has not responded and she will remain a member of the PNC “for the time being unless they throw me out.”
Labelling the PNCR election process for its presidential candidate a “pappy show,” Dr Harding said she was not out to get at the party but she was forced to make that move since her services were not being utilized. She pointed out that she was not the one who made her resignation public. She is not a “sore loser,” she said—Dr Harding came in fourth in the five way race—and was not looking for a position, since she had indicated long before the general elections that she had no intention of working with current opposition leader David Granger.
“I resigned because I found that it wasn’t as useful. I have a passion for the party. I have a passion for working with people because I am a people person and I like to see change,” Dr Harding told Stabroek News in an interview.
Her resignation, with immediate effect, was sent to the party on January 1. The straw that broke the camel’s back, she explained, was being scoffed at and being the butt of a joke by two female members at a December meeting of the party’s central executive. At that meeting, she questioned why a statement they had agreed upon was changed without all of the members being notified. “That night after that meeting, I knew it was over because if I am speaking in a meeting and women [are] riling up at what I am saying, it is over. I have nothing more to do with those women or the party,” she said.
Dr Harding noted that when she began campaigning to be the party’s presidential candidate, everywhere she went people had the same cry: “the party has deserted them, abandoned them; they asked for help and never got help; nobody responded.” Accord-ing to her, these complaints were not coming from “ten or twenty people” but from “a lot of people” in every community she visited.
“We have a responsibility and we are elected to Parliament. We are a political party that has members that support it and we have to access help for them. We can’t just not respond; I don’t accept that at all and that is the attitude that I find in the party,” she said. She added, “everybody is useless even I am useless” until elections time, when “they want your vote or want to use you for some reason.”
Describing herself as a very “well educated person and a woman of substance,” Dr Harding said if members of the party saw her as a non-entity then she had no reason to remain on the central executive. Although she has worked in many countries on contract with the World Bank and the United Nations, Dr Harding said she has been doing work in many communities in Guyana under the auspices of the party. And while she was responsible for the Queenstown/Albertown area, she did not limit her work to that area but worked throughout the country.
There is a fish farm in the pipeline to be developed for party members in Corriverton and Dr Harding said she has to work with the government to get access to land; they are also starting a chicken farm. In Long Creek, a sorrel project will be started.
Dr Harding accused the PNCR of running an unfair primary process to determine the presidential candidate, which worked for Granger but worked against the other contestants. She disclosed that she decided to contest after she was written to in Sudan, where she worked, by young people and others who were looking “for an alternative.”
But even before she joined the race, Harding said, she had objected to the manner in which the campaign was being run and while overseas had even written to Lance Carberry to object. She pointed out that Granger was moving with PNCR leader Robert Corbin and was even using the party’s vehicles and the public relations staff members. She said she also wrote to Corbin and General Secretary Oscar Clarke but got no response to her letters.
Dr Harding pointed out that two days before the election of the presidential candidate, a book launching was held for Granger at the party’s head office with Corbin, Volda Lawrence and Amna Ally and others in attendance.
“It was a real pappy show…but that’s how it was.”
Further, Dr Harding described the election as a “fiasco,” with Granger’s campaign sharing out t-shirts in the compound when candidates were not supposed to take any paraphernalia into the elections. “Other people had their little thing too,” she said adding that fellow contestant Basil Williams sent for his t-shirts after Granger shared out his, “but he didn’t have anything much just about ten or twelve and Granger had hundreds.”
She also said many of the persons who were on the membership list were only members of the party for a short period and many of the old party members did not get the opportunity to vote. Harding also mentioned that the boxes where the votes were placed were open and there was music being played during the counting; at that point she left. Following the process, she said she felt sidelined in the party. She is of the view that it should have gone straight into campaign mode following the election of its presidential candidate. The party, however, subsequently engaged other groups towards the formation of opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity, which is chaired by Granger. The PNCR is APNU’s largest constituent.
Dr Harding said she made it clear that she was not interested in being a Member of Parliament this time around.
“I made that clear and I wrote to Mr Granger and I told him don’t ever consider extracting my name to go into Parliament under APNU,” she said, adding that not only did she not want to be in Parliament for APNU but she also did not want to work under Granger’s leadership.
Asked why, she said: “I don’t like his style. I really don’t like his style.” She added that she is a personality analyst but “I don’t want to do any analysis of his personality.”
Harding said there is no need for a military man to run a country and while Granger is “a fine, intelligent man,” he does not know anything about “governance and he can’t relate to people.”
She said she saw how the campaign for the presidential candidate was run and “it just confirmed some things to me.” According to Harding, even if APNU was to be in government, she would not have wanted to part of it because of the persons who make up the partnership. Further probed, she said the partnership did not excite her and when she looked at the list of parliamentarians, eight of nine front benchers are from the PNCR. “So where is the partnership? Why eight out of nine?” she questioned.
She is not against a coalition and added that she would have even collaborated with the PPP/C since there are people who “like them and want them” and it would have had to be included if APNU had won the elections or a large percentage of Guyanese would have been left out.
Dr Harding said, “…we have to stop this divisiveness. I am not basing what I am doing on what they [the PPP/C] do. I am basing it on what I feel our country needs and we don’t need this divisive politics.”
Had she won the PNCR primary, she said, she would have immediately taken her colleagues who ran with her on board but that was not the case with Granger’s camp. “We were kept out of any discussion after the primary… none of us had a part of any decision making or any discussion for anything,” Harding said.
Some time after, she said, Carl Greenidge was included and in July of last year he wrote to “them” indicating that she and others should be included. “It took weeks for them to respond to me to ask me to join the policy committee,” Dr Harding said, adding that she did join and wrote several policy papers which were used during the campaign.
Following this, she said, she was asked to edit speeches and she refused as she saw it as a waste of time.
“I am not into editing. I could edit but I felt that was a waste of my skills, my ability and my time,” she said, disclosing that she then stopped going to Congress Place.
In September she indicated that she was leaving the country for a month and she returned early November, but has not heard a word from anyone since. “Even the resignation letter has not gotten a response,” she pointed out.