Conventional wisdom dictates that almost all of the adults and most of the children in Guyana are fully aware of the fact that Afro-Guyanese overwhelmingly voted for the PNC and similarly East Indians voted en masse for the PPP, with Amerindians and the mixed races by and large supporting the Government in power. However, with the arrival of the AFC on the political scene in 2006, this tradition has been tested and combined with the extraordinary migration rate especially of East Indians from Guyana, we can say with much certainty that the PPP cannot win a majority in any new elections. For one reason, the AFC has changed the political dynamics/landscape in Guyana. For another, the East Indian population on the Corentyne which is the PPP stronghold has been drastically reduced by 22% due largely to migration. Hence the wisdom of Dr. Roger Luncheon to throw cold water on early elections has dampened the enthusiasm of the Jagdeoites in the PPP. Simply put, their political immaturity has been exposed for all to see.
This means that the opposition has ample time to prepare properly for the constitutionally due elections in 2016. One of the things the opposition must do is to pressure the minority PPP regime to amend the constitution before the next election. Second, they must dive into the villages and instill confidence in the people to vote on issues rather than race; thus breaking from the conformist tradition of racial voting in Guyana. The PPP has already started their grassroots operation with some 500 plus paid PYO operatives, funding for which is unclear. Unfortunately, the opposition (APNU/AFC) will have to depend on donations from the diaspora and the local private sector to drive such an operation since the PPP has caused the death of volunteerism in Guyana. Unlike the olden times when the cost of living was low, people use to volunteer but today they cannot afford to volunteer because of the high cost of living which has forced many to seek two jobs.
One must note that state resources were misused by the PNC in the past to conduct political activity through an outfit called the Ministry of National Mobilization. Today the PPP is conducting the same kind of political activity using PYO activists. The PPP is working craftier but unfortunately their operation continues to fail since people at the bottom rung of the economic ladder cannot eat propaganda, distortions and untruths for dinner or to support their children with unfilled and empty promises. Most live by paycheck to paycheck. In their 22 years in power, the PPP has not learnt that Guyana cannot progress or develop without the majority of the people being happier and wealthier. But some in the regime are too blind to see that their policies of helping their friends and relatives and the marginalization of a large section of the population are hampering the human and economic development of Guyana. It is Abraham Lincoln who said “no nation can survive half slave and half free.”
For the 285,000 citizens of Guyana who remain at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, it matters not whether Guyana’s GDP grew by 5 percent or 10 percent since their personal wealth has not improved and thus they cannot connect with the PPP propaganda message.
So if the PPP really wants a landslide victory in the next election, they have to ensure that there is personal security for all, there must be equality for all especially to have access to the national resources and there must be a genuine effort by the PPP to create jobs for the youths and to treat everyone equally and fairly irrespective of their race or political affiliations.
But this is not the case as more than 70 percent of the children of Guyana continue to fail English, Mathematics, and other science subjects at the CXC Exam under Minister Priya Manickchand; thus making them unable to further their education at a university of their choice.
But it seems that Guyana is not blessed because we have an opposition that seems incapable of capitalizing on the opportunity to convert the political mistakes and gross incompetence of the PPP into political success for them. We believe that the time is now for the opposition to have their grassroots soldiers in every town, village and district carrying the truth to the people and pleading with them for their support. The time is now for the opposition to demand that the constitution be changed/amended. This is the same constitution the PPP had condemned when they were in opposition but today they are using it to deny the people their rights.
Press conferences, TV interviews and public meetings in Georgetown cannot be the only communication tools at the disposal of the opposition. They have to be in the field preparing the ground for victory in 2016. The combined opposition has to find a way to reach out to those Guyanese who did not vote in the last election. The AFC in particular has to wage a vigorous campaign in every region and not only in regions 5, 6, and 8 as they did in the last election. Can the opposition do it? Well if the record of the last two-and a half years is any guide to go by, then the people of Guyana are in for sadder times and will be doomed for another term with a PPP minority government.
Dr. Asquith Rose and
Harish S. Singh.