A hoax intended to destroy a political party

Dear Editor,

I certainly did not expect that Dr Henry Jeffrey would add his weight to the greatest hoax intended to destroy a political party in Guyana. Using the theory of conflict of interest against certain members of the AFC in the present Guyanese marketplace is so flawed, that I am surprised the persons involved are not standing up and fighting back against this absurdity.

Further, I cannot believe that it would be necessary for a school dropout like me to explain the concept of the third force and why it is necessary to break the back of a disingenuous voting/political process/system that we inherited way back in the fifties, when the PPP party split into two. While at it I will try to explain why it was necessary for Nigel Hughes to remain in his leadership position in the AFC and why he does not need to be in any party in Guyana, and definitely does not need political perks to be a successful attorney.

Even though adhering to conflict of interest norms is ethical, given the makeup of doing business in Guyana it is almost impossible for the average person to remain within the guidelines. Why? Government is the largest employer. They control basically all the land and all the natural resources. There is not a big enough private sector to create employment to facilitate large-scale investment, and the opportunity to earn outside the government spin-off.

A large-scale investor of an established foreign business entering Guyana to do business will first have to register a branch of the business in Georgetown. That investor will most likely seek out the best attorney, accountant or PR persons to represent their business and deal with local laws. Payments would be agreed to and a contract will be signed. This transaction between the local entity and the foreign business is legal. The income gained is legal.

Now the large-scale investor is going to get down to business. One example. They need land to do a big agricultural project.

That means the business person has to deal with the government/government official. Most of these deals are done in secret between the investor and the official/s. For argument’s sake, let’s say the official tells the investor that before he even looks at the deal the investor has to lodge X amount of dollars in an unnamed account in a foreign bank. The investor believes it is worth the while, he does it and the deal goes through.

The local representative most likely would not know about this backroom deal but this investor has a project on the table. The project becomes public and the press, public and opposition disagrees with the structure of the project and rebels. Given that this is likely to happen over and over, tell me where an attorney or professional needs to go to ply his trade to avoid conflict of interest in government and foreign investment deals. And, whose earning is legitimate and whose is – you know what? I’m sure Dr Jeffrey knows the difference. So what is his strategy for not pointing out the discrepancy in the local marketplace?

Although I do not agree with the AFC’s vote on the Amaila Hydro project I can find many positives in the vote.

For one, the party can say that the need for Guyana getting its first hydro outweighed the obvious flaws in the project. (I believe that is what it was all about.) They can also say that there is a possibility in time, as more persons lock into the system the cost per household may drop. What I cannot understand is the leadership allowing frivolous arguments to destroy the third force, and intellectual followers, who should be much smarter, falling for the sham.

I refuse to believe that the manner in which the AFC voted on the Amaila project has anything to do with corruption – trying to pass a project to benefit certain members. It does not seem practical that the leadership of the AFC sees the party as positioning themselves to get perks from deals. As explained in my example above, how on earth can they do that?

Let’s think about how and why the AFC was formed. We were all fed up with the race-based politics. Everyone dreamed of the day when Guyanese would vote issues. Then a lot of persons suggested that two persons, who found themselves out of the two main parties for riling up against the old system, form a party. The third force in Guyanese politics was born.

The two main parties dread the third force. They will do anything to kill it.

The fact that it was successful in 2011, the tilting of the political balance in parliament, is an indication of its potential.

The idea of the third force is to peel off progressive, disillusioned and younger members from the old system. But there is a little tricky reality here. Guyanese are still race conscious. Indians in particular have a lot of insecurities. They want their business and religious interests protected. So they will definitely like to see someone at the head, who they feel comfortable about protecting their interests.

For African Guyanese, after the experiences of what many would term marginalization, they also will need a lot of convincing before they will look at something new.

That means they will also need someone to represent them, someone who they think is strong enough to stop any injustices. With Trotman babysitting parliament, that is why Nigel Hughes could not be let loose at this time, even though he personally was willing to give it up and return to what he does best.

It is my strong belief that any political election without the third force will guarantee only one result. The incumbent would relish this because they can bring up old narratives to motivate their base. Talks and even the reality about demographic shifts will not affect the outcome. Why? Incumbent governments have a lot of tools at their disposal to give them the edge.

Only silly incumbencies give up power easily. Consider the strategy involved in refurbishing of all community centres.

Savvy third force leadership stands at a point where they can build on the gains of 2011. They need to regroup. They cannot be distracted by persons who may very well have an agenda. They should be out courting Ralph Ramkarran. Bring in some of the old UF guys and willing members of the reform components.

There is a lot that can be done.

I must emphasize, the Hughes association with Sithe was legal, straight-up business. They were not getting perks from Sithe, they were paid for services rendered. The Hughes’s do not need a political party to stay in business. Nigel hails from a legal dynasty in the vein of Rex McKay, his father, Bernard De Santos and the Luckhoos’ of old. Nigel Hughes has made money and will continue to make money regardless of who is in government. Why would people argue that a young party like the AFC will benefit the Hughes’s? Guyana most like will benefit from the input of the Hughes’s. Not the other way around.

When persons rant about the Hughes’s and that they should apologize, I ask for what? They got their money legally over the years and they stepped into politics with more in their bank account than any one of the political players on the scene today, and probably in our history. They are not the ones who need perks. Go point fingers at the ones robbing our country.

I have said it before. Nigel is more an attorney than a politician. Although he did nothing wrong in defending the Lusignan murder accused it was terrible optics and politics. That’s where the hatred is coming from. Now that it appears no one was held accountable for the murders, there are some persons who would feel better even if the innocent paid the price. Those are the areas in which he needs to be careful as a politician.

Please let it be known that I would be the first to reprimand the members of the AFC if they are involved in illegal deals, but telling them to stop plying their trade I will not do. Conflict of interest? How it is that others are not getting the same bashing for a whole lot worse? Third force, rise up and respond to your calling.

Bravo AFC. Just noticed your press release. The third force cannot link up with any other, but all persons can join. Important ingredient in the concept.

 

Yours faithfully,
F Skinner

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