“Politics means putting corrupt individuals into government who usually take advantage upon the country. I will not go out to vote” I heard these words recently from many young people who are eligible to vote for the first time. Is such a view worthwhile to hold? Does it enjoy the support of the learned? If it is false how can we correct it? Politics is simply the art or science of government or governing a nation, the administration and control of its internal and external affairs. The word politics comes from the Greek word politicos which means “of, for or relating to citizens”. Wherever honesty prevails in politics there is peace, joy and much progress. Wherever vice, covetousness and oppression prevail in politics there is dire poverty, sickness, ignorance and the daily cry of citizens. The wise man Solomon referred to this truth in the Bible when he wrote “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).
Politics has been in human society throughout human history. Early thinkers such as Plato, Confucius and Aristotle have left us writings which can help us to have a balanced view of politics. Aristotle (384-322 B.C) was a Greek philosopher, scientist and thinker who believed that politics is an authoritative and practical science concerned with the noble actions or happiness of citizens. He believed that the most important task of the politician is the role of lawgiver – to frame the appropriate constitution of the land, to take appropriate measures to maintain it, and to introduce reforms whenever necessary. According to him the principal responsibility of the politician is to produce, operate and maintain a legal system according to universal principles for the advancement of human society.
Modern day thinkers consider politics to be the science of government or that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a nation or state. Politics has to do with the preservation of a nation’s safety, its peace, as well as its prosperity. The political affairs of a nation involve the defence of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest. The politics of a nation determines national growth and strength and the best use of its resources. The politics of a nation involves the protection of its citizens in their rights as well as the preservation and improvement of their morals. The foregoing truths establish that no corrupt individual should ever be entertained in politics. Anyone who therefore advocates that corruption is an inseparable element in politics is the devil’s advocate. If there is one place we should never tolerate corruption it should be the politics or governance of our nation.
Extravagant living and corruption seems to be a common trait among politicians who govern Guyana. This parasitic lifestyle has been echoing across Guyana for many years, much to the hurt of our people. The Feb 28, 2015 edition of Stabroek News reported that “Of the G $361.4 million disbursed by the state as financial assistance for medical treatment in the 2012-2013 period, the majority – over G $ 200 million – was spent on top government officials and their associates…” The present administration may argue that these officials are entitled to this assistance, but this disparity leaves the ordinary working class Guyanese speechless. This scenario reminds us of the words of the French political economist Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) who wisely cautioned “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it”
In a study showing the link between corruption and poverty the African Centre for Economic Growth describes corruption as “the abuse of public office for private gains”. According to this study bribery and sweetheart deals are a curse for democracy and civil society. Because corruption erodes trust in government corrupt officials should be resolutely prosecuted. Her Excellency Prime Minister Kamla Persaud Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago is demonstrating an excellent example in cleansing her cabinet of corrupt ministers. It is time all Guyanese learn from her wonderful example and accept that corruption weakens the moral bonds of civil society on which democratic practices and processes rest. Nowhere in the world does democracy thrive amidst
corruption. The very opposite is true. Therefore more corruption prevails in Guyana the more poverty will increase and the more democracy will be threatened.
The pro democracy alliance entered into between AFC+APNU recognizes the foregoing principles of good governance. Therefore we will ensure that we bless Guyana with a capable, honest and accountable government, one that creates opportunities for the poor, provides better services, and improve development outcomes. We refuse to be the kind of deceptive politicians who declare that they are building a bridge when in reality there is no river to cross.
Let us then realize that politics in itself is not corrupt. However if we vote corrupt individuals into politics they will soon take their corruption into governance. It is imperative then that we all go out and with one accord vote for good governance. Yes the Cummingsburg Accord can help to restore honest governance to our dear land Guyana.
Dr. Sewnauth Punalall