We see stormy waves kick up every so often as frustrated citizens demand justice, fair play and equal access to the corridors of power. The thing is, Government officials react as if they do not care, brushing aside these storms with scornful disdain for true democracy.
How could we generate solutions to rein in the State, to prevent those in power from bullying the nation, to ensure that our democracy truly works in the interest of all Guyanese?
This week Parliament hosts the brunt of the disgruntled. Inside, the political Opposition hacks away at the Government’s self-serving Budget, while outside private media owners, vocal opposition voices and disgusted citizens parade placards against the Bharrat Jagdeo distribution of broadcasting licences.
The Jagdeo distribution of channels for State-controlled media power pushed people across the society to condemn Government’s wanton acts of impropriety.
From respected former Auditor Anand Goolsarran to the Guyana Human Rights Association, the vociferous voices rose in a giant wave of passive protest.
Yesterday outside State House, people protested with vigorous anger. Leader of the Alliance For Change party, Khemraj Ramjattan, left his Budget-slashing seat inside the House to join the parade of placards.
Two stormy waves of protests hang over our heads this week: the political Opposition’s lame effort to exercise some semblance of Parliamentary power over the Government’s proposal to spend State funds, and this vexing and annoying Jagdeo abuse of his Presidential privilege, to empower his cronies.
What no one seems able in the society to answer is this: how could we generate solutions around these problems?
We suffer under a Government that bullies the people. Though not new – as since pre-Independence this problem keeps anchoring us in a sinkhole of unimaginable political backwardness – we must start to think about how to rid ourselves of it.
The Government cannot continue to use its State power to bully us.
One reason, of course, for Government’s bullying us is that we lack leaders of genuine leadership intelligence.
For example, despite widespread favourable comments about the Government’s national Budget, the Opposition never once demonstrated the magnanimity or generosity of spirit to praise the effort.
Instead, with a juvenile glee, with a childish zeal for the perceived power it holds in a paralysed Parliament, the Opposition pounces and attacks the Budget to cut and slash and tear sections to pieces.
How could the Opposition best deal with the Government’s National Budget?
Last year citizens saw the slash and cut efforts produce nothing of substance. People feel it was all a waste of time, energy and State funds.
How do we generate the solutions that work best for us?
How do we deal with a Jagdeo, who seems so contemptuous in his response to critics?
Protesting and carrying placards in the public square cannot generate the solutions we want.
We see from last year that slashing and cutting and tearing up sections of the Budget achieve nothing at all.
In the face of a complete lack of power in Parliament, the Opposition grasps at these cuts to fool itself that it is relevant. But in our post-1980 political power structure, an Opposition never became relevant. Parliament is but a showcase, lacking substance. Like the role of the Prime Minister, the House sits like a ceremonious fat-cat, lacking teeth.
Government’s Cabinet, sitting behind closed door, embodies the true political power in this country.
Adding to this scenario, we see too many of the Government critics harbouring personal vendettas against Jagdeo’s acrimonious, strife-ridden style of leadership.
Some sections of the private media, and a wide swath of the political opposition, cannot exercise the professionalism and integrity and independence of the serious critic. These folks protest because they feel personally affronted under the steamrolling Jagdeo.
In the common cause of opposing the Jagdeo tendency of this Government to bully its way to executive power and personal riches, we see critics joining hands across the society. The waves of protests then blur into confusion, with people venting personal vendettas joining with serious critics.
So we lack leadership of intelligence and genuine care. Although a few voices – like Anand Goolsarran, Ralph Ramkarran, Henry Jeffrey and Clive Thomas – maintain their professional integrity, citizens can no longer take the waves of protest that erupt every so often with a serious face.
People therefore tend to ignore the Budget circus inside the National Assembly, and look on with mere curious interest at the placard protesters.
Where does this leave us as a people?
We must learn to generate solutions, instead of propelling waves of protest that get nowhere but offer a show of power, while lacking the substance of achieving results.
How do we generate solutions? How do we push back the Jagdeo effect upon the country? How do we nullify the executive power of a President lacking the qualities of statesmanship?
Bereft of original ideas, vision or clear thinking, the Opposition falls back on a show of pretend power.
We need two immediate solutions: how to rein in the Jagdeo effect on our society, and how to cause Government to be subjected to Parliament and the people, rather than us being subjected to these leaders of poor minds.
Maybe the dire state of our human resource capital affects us so deeply that we cannot lead ourselves anymore.
The brain drain may have eroded our society so that we lack leaders capable of generating solutions. And in that vacuum, poor leaders like Jagdeo, Ramotar and many in the Opposition camp use their strong arm ability to entrench themselves in the positions of power and prestige, only to embolden themselves, ignoring the citizen.
The Opposition, meanwhile, seems unable to generate solutions that go deeper than placard protests and a show of pretend power.
Instead of waves of protests, we need to design strategic solutions that Government cannot kick aside in contempt.
Only then could we cultivate a literate, thinking people.
Only then could we build a national media landscape that serves all Guyanese – the true state of a democracy.