Sandra Granger is still getting used to being a politician’s wife but she firmly believes that her husband is the man to take the country forward, as he cares for the ordinary; she points out that there is so much wrong with the country and that those bearing the brunt of it are the young and the elderly.
“I think he has the empathy with the ordinary people, to see and to understand what their lives are like and to feel very strongly that it has to be better and I think he has the confidence of people around that he can make a difference,” she said of her husband during a recent interview with the Sunday Stabroek.
If Mrs Granger had her way, maybe David Granger would not be contesting the presidential race but as he is already at the starting line she is giving him all the support he needs while taking umbrage at the attacks on his character.
She said there is a view being peddled by some that her husband is a murderer and that he would make the country a military state should he be elected.
“These are things that are said at elections time, I mean how many years they are going to say my husband was responsible for the deaths in Berbice when he was nowhere around, he was stationed in Timheri at the time,” she stressed.
She also took issue with General Secretary of the PPP/C Clement Rohee saying that her husband should appear before the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) pointing out that her husband was out of the country when Dr Rodney was killed.
“If people are talking and they are so frightened of Mr Granger it struck me that he was the only army person that they never employed…” she said while naming heads of the GDF the government has employed and senior police officers but never her husband or former commissioner of police Winston Felix.
“I know my husband’s military credentials. I know his academic and professional achievements. He worked, he made plans and I said it should strike a lot of people as interesting that the one person the PPP government never sought to employ is David Granger even though his skills have been recognized…,” she said.
She said even after he was told in 1992 that he would not be employed by the new government it was commented later that he was the person who delivered the most detail in handing over notes.
Mrs Granger said she is not hurt by the public utterances against her husband through she does get “a bit riled but not angry.” However, she has reached that stage in her life where she will not waste energy as “they beat the same drum over and over again and I am inclined to say sometimes ‘get a life!’”
She called it “supreme laziness on the part of the PPP to bring up these same old things over and over again.” She pointed out that she and David live a very simple life in a simple but clean house and do not need a mansion.
The APNU+AFC Coalition has repeatedly criticized leaders of the PPP/C for leading ostentatious lifestyles while many Guyanese live in abject poverty.
“I don’t think anyone could say that David Granger has been taking money under the table from anyone at any time in his life, career or otherwise…” she stated.
During the interview she pointed out that people have gotten very accustomed to a level of politics that she is very uncomfortable with and which her husband is also uncomfortable with it as he would prefer to address issues and things that have to be addressed at a national level. “It disturbs me to hear the personal attacks being hurled at political opponents on either side. And also when senior people say these things are they really grounded in truth? Whether it is true or not is this something you want to bring into the campaign, is this a weakness or is this some personal thing you want to get into public?” she questioned.
She said regardless of political affiliation every human being deserves to be treated with dignity. Mrs Granger said while she was surprised that Ambassador Elisabeth Harper entered politics it was her choice to make. She said she knows Harper comes from a good family as she had visited her home through the friendship of one of her older sisters.
“I have met her professionally when I worked and we would meet, we would discuss things, assist each other. I found her to be a pleasant, intelligent person so I would be the last person making any facetious comment about Mrs Harper or anybody,” she said.
She said Harper must have known why she threw her support behind the PPP/C and it is her right as a person and no one should vilify her or anyone who makes a political choice.
Any crude or rude remark made against any such person is “really off the wall,” she added. Is her husband guilty of this?
“I don’t think I have ever heard my husband make a crude or rude remark in public,” she responded quickly.
Mrs Granger stressed that the campaign should be more focused on arguing facts and issues as she believes this is what the public wants to hear.
One of David Granger’s main issues that he has been focusing on apart from security is the level of education in the country and his wife said she has visited areas in the interior where one teacher is teaching about five different grades.
“There are many, many issues out there which really cry out for attention and those are the issues that should be focused on [such as] violence against women, violence against children, crime…” she said, decrying the impatient way people deal with each other.
Granger spoke of poverty and the salary single parents work for which she said barely allows them to eke out an existence and the Value Added Tax (VAT). She finds she finds it totally unacceptable for tax to be attached to items like Milo and cheese.
“You are telling poor people that all they can give their children is white bread and sugar water?” she asked rhetorically.
She also spoke of the elderly whom she said should be given an opportunity to be useful in their communities and help to give structure to young people and for this to be done she believes that there needs to be organization which could start with community centres where the old and young meet. She reminisces about life in the past where every adult was the parent of the children in their communities which gave a sense of community togetherness.
Mrs Granger said that over the almost four years since her husband entered the world of politics she has become more conscious of the political landscape and she is now much more careful.
“I don’t say everything I think at the moment that I am thinking it… You try to frame what you say in a manner which would not be offensive to some people…,” she said when asked to explain.
She said she knows some people feel she is very “standoffish” but it is a case of her just being a private person and her friends know her to be that way. She is not someone “to go crying out in the streets about all my feelings.”
She would go about her daily life quietly but now more often than not she is stopped and people would enquire about her husband. She is now conscious that more people are looking at her.
She said she knows her husband is under pressure at times so she has developed her own coping mechanism.
“I have my friends. I have my family. I have my grandchildren to lighten any mood, the little ones. I have lived my life…and there is a certain amount of your environment that you can control and you control it,” she said.
”I just try to make sure that the home is a restful place. I try to ensure that he eats well. [He does not eat as often as she would like.] … I try to make sure he does not have to worry about things related to running the house,” she said of the support she gives to her husband.
In choosing the next government come May 11, Mrs Granger said, people should analyze their lives over the past 23 years and ask themselves pertinent questions. They should question whether they are satisfied that university graduates can’t find jobs, that people continue to emigrate, that children are dropping out of school and that people are not earning a living wage among other things, she said.