The opposition has to find creative ways of engaging with the government to lift the country out of the present impasse, according to former PPP/C Minister Henry Jeffrey, who says that the apparent belief by APNU and the AFC that the governing party will lose its plurality anytime soon is “farfetched.”
Addressing the crime situation and related issues in his column in Wednesday’s edition of Stabroek News, Jeffrey accused the opposition of churning out platitudes about the obstinacy and controlling tendency of the PPP/C when they need to mobilise for a sensible way out of the present impasse.
“Parliamentary tit-for-tat is now the name of the game as the opposition waits and hopes for the day when the PPP/C will lose its plurality or the country descends into anarchy and change. In my view, the belief that the PPP will lose the plurality any time soon is farfetched and anarchy is hardly ever discriminating,” he argued.
Under the country’s voting system, the party with the largest plurality (or single largest bloc) of votes wins the presidency and forms the government, even if it does not command a majority, like the current Donald Ramotar administration, which is a minority government.
Jeffrey said that the crimes and corruption allegations have already helped to erode the government’s support and “will do so more significantly in the future if the leadership shows any sign of requiring any deal to save themselves and thus put the country back on track.”
He contended that as a result the PPP/C has to play for time, hoping that the opposition will be significantly reduced and the opportunity for better cooperation will arise. It was in this context that he said that the opposition needed to be more creative in trying to break the logjam.
A former minister of labour, health, education and foreign trade under several PPP/C governments, Jeffrey said that in today’s more open world, all types of agreements could be clinched for greater openness and development. He added that modern leadership demanded “creative and liberating approaches or the hopelessness that is the consequence of the regime’s present stance will soon become infectious.”
Jeffrey, who also had a longstanding association with the PNC, had prefaced his remarks by an assessment of the crime situation and the PPP’s stance on it. He pointed out that when it was out of government, the PPP had proclaimed that when it got into office it would usher in peace, security, stability and development.
Now faced with persistent periods of criminality, Jeffrey said that the PPP/C has now taken to blaming the opposition. He cited what he said was another fundamental difficulty in the mix i.e. that the opposition has accused recent past and present PPP/C governments of “extreme levels of crime and corruption” which if true could have serious consequences for those involved should the party ever lose power.
Since the opposition is not going away and likely becoming stronger, Jeffrey said the PPP/C would not risk losing government and this creates an intractable standoff. “In this context the regime’s message to its members and supporters is simple. The PPP/C is involved in a permanent struggle against evil and dangerous forces, particularly APNU but also the traitorous AFC! It will do the best it can but stability will be always be tenuous and development suboptimal as long as these dangerous forces continue to exist. In this context, if the party is to plod on, the most immediate and important task is to win back its majority in parliament,” Jeffrey wrote.