I was hesitant about giving my views on the outcome of the Cummingsburg Accord. However, two weeks in, here I am. I must confess that I am nervous and cannot help wondering if I represent that ‘hole in the belly’ feeling of those who expect change. Even so, and before I delve into what I am thinking, please allow me to extend my heartfelt best wishes to the APNU-AFC alliance. The deal is done, and I am sure the new alliance will need all the guidance and luck that can be mustered as they approach May 11 and beyond.
My nervousness stems from a couple of harsh realities the makeup of the Accord exposes. Mainly is the feeling that I suspect the incumbent government relishes their options come May 11. On that day there will be a straight two-way battle – no minority government, just plain win or lose. It is as I suspect exactly what the doctor ordered for the PPP/C and that is what they wanted badly. The old war playbook will be fully utilized. What will the new alliance fight back with?
The AFC was the balance of power between the two main political parties since 2005-6, something that was welcomed by Guyanese. In taking the number two position in this Accord, the party may have unintentionally given away that strong point, very much to the relief of the incumbent party. To explain, I observed that although the AFC through Mr Nagamootoo received a reasonable amount of swing votes in PPP/C strongholds, those votes were mostly silent voters. Those voters could not shout it out in their communities. It goes by reason to point out they cannot show disappointment, if any, with this new arrangement. That places a question mark on what they will do come May 11. How can we calculate their position today – or May 11?
There is no doubt that the PNC is a major party in Guyana. As part of the APNU group they bring the largest amount of voters. But the reality also is that the PNC, as a party and even as part of APNU, cannot muster enough votes to win a one-on-one fight with the PPP. The AFC, suggesting that they lead an alliance gave the PNC a once in a lifetime chance of political relevance and comeback. Coming from the negative background of grounding the UF, rigged elections and more, one expected that this proposed alliance would have given the PNC the opportunity to show humility, to suggest a change in their outlook and persona. Yet they insisted on a position that brings back memories, creates doubt and gives a lot of ammunition to the incumbents.
I am amused and sometimes shocked at the discussion coming out of the PPP/C Prime Minister pick. Why is this pick so upsetting to the new APNU-AFC group? Why the group did not show some poise and simply congratulate Ms Harper – show respect for the achievement of women. Let us not forget that a female PM candidate is what I suggested for the group in a previous letter. My strategy was obvious. Nags at number one would have ensured no slippage on what was gained in 2011. That alone ensured a one seat majority for the opposition in 2011. Mr Granger at number two would not have been exciting enough to bring out more voters, but a female candidate, given the state of women in Guyana, would have expressed concern for women and be the perfect catalyst to bring out a lot more of the APNU voters. Mr Granger would still have been the leader of his party and had the chance at any other position in governance he needed.
It is opined that win or lose the AFC would get 12 or there about seats in parliament, much more than they could have expected through the ballot box. Well, who benefits from that? They brag about the agreement to be in charge of the Ministry of Agriculture. I do not see this as a strong point. The people in agriculture have always shown their ability to be successful in that area regardless of who is in power. I find that the main concern of the people in business is security – the safety of doing business, moving around with payrolls, and feeling safe in their homes at night. Security, security, security – 1, 2 and 3. After 49 years with no administration properly addressing those fears, does the new alliance effectively address them?
When the AFC came on the scene there was that hope that the third force was the perfect fit to referee the failings and extremes of the two main political parties. It would have been an uphill task, but a lot of people were gradually coming around to the impact of a young breed, newer ideas. What the accord has guaranteed is that one of the two parties that tried management since 1966 will still be in charge. I am not sure how the majority of Guyanese will react – thus my nervousness.
All I can say is that this gamble on behalf of the Guyanese people who looked forward to change was unnecessary. This looks like political egotism on all sides. Taking the default position, using a strategy that the PPP/C is so bad in governance that they would be voted out no matter what is dangerous and weak. On my visit to Guyana late last year I found that many expected the number one and two positions to be different and would have accepted in the circumstances. But the die is already cast. For the sake of Guyana I hope my worrying and nervousness is futile.