Over the last week I deliberately restrained myself from commenting on or seeking additional information on the Ms Vanessa Kissoon and General Secretary Oscar Clarke debacle, since I took comfort from the reassuring comments of my friend Mr Christopher Jones’s missive to me in the Stabroek News of February 15, 2014 captioned ‘The PNCR has several forums where arms of the party can vent dissatisfaction.’ Additionally, when I learnt of the incident a few hours after it occurred, my first reaction was that maybe both parties are suffering from office fatigue and as a result, tempers flared. As the issue took centre stage on all the social media and news outlets, however, I became more inquisitive and concluded that unlike General Secretary Oscar Clarke and Minister Priya Manickchand, Ms Kissoon is a freshman in the political arena so office fatigue is too farfetched. What could be the cause for MP Kissoon “[to] walk in to congress and spontaneously accost the General Secretary, verbally abuse him and then calmly walk out”? Ms Kissoon is a highly respected educator in the Linden community and one of the most articulate young members of the 10th Parliament, so I decided to investigate.
My preliminary investigation stumbled on some startling details about the genesis of this issue which begs the question of how it can be morally right for us as a party and as a people to consciously oppose the imposition of Ms Carol Sooba, as Town Clerk, on the elected city council and people of Georgetown and not oppose, with similar vehemence the imposition of former Member of Parliament and Regional Councillor Ms Sandra Adams on the leadership and people of Linden.
There is no question about the contribution and/or the capacity of Ms Adams. I had the privilege of seeing her work prior to her sojourn in North America and have nothing but admiration for her. However, I am quite sure given Ms Adams’ political experience and knowledge of the constituency, she saw upon her return that things were not the same as when she had left. Therefore the morally right thing to do was to find a place within the structure to make her contribution. Therefore this issue before us is more one of principle than one of respect; respect is not a right by virtue of the office you hold, but is earned by your conduct in that office and the way you treat people who engage that office directly or indirectly. The time for the top down approach to organizational governance and the flexing of political muscle as well as exclusion from participation is the state of affairs belonging to a bygone era and is no longer applicable. People want to feel and know that they have a voice and a place at the decision-making table within an environment of mutual respect.
Political leaders and parties continue to make the cardinal mistake of believing that the citizens, especially our young people, will judge them only by their words and not equally by their deeds. You cannot demand from your political opponent, in this case the government, that they adhere to the rule of law and you are doing the opposite. Young people are impressionable; they want to see their leaders demonstrate the capacity to make moral and principled decisions and to project themselves as a viable alternative to what they have now, so occupying the moral high ground at all times is of the utmost importance.
Like many young people I view the continuous assault on Ms Vanessa Kissoon by various ‘leaders’ of the party and the deafening silence by other youth leaders within the party as an assault on the youth leadership fabric of the party and those young leaders who dare to demonstrate the testicular fortitude to stand up for principle and moral justice.
Therefore Ms Kissoon must be commended for her ‘stick-to-itiveness’ and singleness of purpose. Unlike some of her peers she will go down in the annals of history as a strong independent forward thinking woman and a moral voice for the youths of the PNC, her constituency and by extension the young people of Guyana. She will not end up a mere period in a footnote of history, like many of others are destined to do.