The recent appointment of Mr Clement Rohee to the position of General Secretary of the ruling PPP/C, demonstrates the confidence and trust that his comrades in the Executive Committee of that party have in him. Whether one likes Mr Rohee or not his political achievements to date are a success story, particularly when one takes into consideration where he came from.
His upward mobility both politically and socially warrants some consideration. The most important development in respect of his appointment to this important office is that it has improved and strengthened “considerably” ‘Comrade’ Rohee’s chances for a run at the presidency of the country thereby making good his observation that “goat na bite me.” This was his eloquent response when the question was posed to him by a reporter as to whether or not he was contesting to be his party’s presidential candidate for the 2011 general and regional elections.
Having said the above one will be naive not to recognize the other political significance of Rohee’s promotion to the General Secretary’s position in the PPP/C in light of the current internal power struggle that is being waged in the leadership hierarchy of that party.
Readers must not be surprised by the spate of denials which will emanate from the PPP/C about its worst kept secret, ie the ongoing power struggle in the party between the Jagdeo faction and the old guard. Deny it they will and must do, if they wish to keep the myth of a united party which they are at pains to present to the faithful. But the truth cannot be denied. What is obvious since the party congress is that former President Bharrat Jadgeo and his faction lost their grip on the ruling party. The old guard under President Donald Ramotar is now in full control of both Freedom House and the government. Objectively, this is a positive development since it takes away the contention often made by PPP/C insiders that the members of the old guard, during the period of Mr Jagdeo’s ascendancy to power both in the party and government, were locked in a bitter struggle with the Jagdeoites for their political survival. The old guard’s politics of complacency over the years have to be seen in light of this reality.
The changed situation means that there is a new dispensation in the party. Mr Rohee has been given the task to “watch” the back of President Donald Ramotar – so to speak. Equally important, he has the responsibility for repairing the damage to the party’s electoral machine in preparation for the next elections. This is a formable task given that party’s poor showing in the last elections.
Mr Rohee’s continued occupation of the post of Home Affairs Minister has serious political connotations, given the importance of the position and the pressure put on him to resign by the parliamentary opposition parties, after the police killing of three residents of Linden. More so it demonstrates the thinking of the new rulers in the PPP/C as it relates to how they see their political survival both in terms of the state and party. Mr Rohee was appointed to the Home Affairs Ministry, after Gail Teixeira was removed or forced to step down. My opinion is that Mr Rohee was given that ministry as a compromise struck between the two contending factions in the party. Mr Ramotar’s faction wanted to maintain their control of that ministry by appointing another member of the old guard, and Mr Jagdeo and his faction wanted someone acceptable to them. Mr Jadgeo would not have favoured Mr. Rohee for personal and political reasons, since it is alleged that Jadgeo and Rohee have a history of bad relations dating back to the period of the late party leader Janet Jagan.
Mr Rohee’s stewardship of the Home Affairs Ministry allows the leadership to feel confident in retaining him in the position for now. To them he is doing an excellent job. When the opposition criticizes the minister it is in relation to his constitutional responsibilities but what is good for the nation is not necessary good for the party. Comrade Rohee is loyal to his party. It is this reality that is playing out in relation to the parliamentary opposition motion for his removal. In closing, Minister Rohee’s political sojourn is a reasonable success story in spite of his known weaknesses. If my recollection is correct he did short stints as acting Prime Minister and did fairly well in the positions of Foreign Minister and Minister of Foreign Trade. Ironically, it is his handling of the Home Affairs Ministry that has exposed all of his shortcomings. It is likely to either push him further up the political ladder or bring about his political demise. The longer he holds on to this portfolio the more vulnerable he will be. The minister may have sound reasons for wanting to be responsible for both the party and his ministry, but let me advise him of the saying, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’