The results of the election on May 11 and the new joie de vivre of the populace have brought a new reality and perspective, buoyed no doubt with genuine hopes and positive aspirations just as the 1992 election did when Cheddi Jagan assumed the presidency. Indeed, the joy, happiness, and contentment on the many smiling faces in the photographs in the press tell their own story, but will the dreams of the Guyanese people be realized this time around? The recent clean-up campaign is but one positive indicator that change has come. Let us hope that there are many more such indicators.
The realization of the dreams of the Guyanese people is, however, largely dependent on a strong, vibrant and useful opposition, but will the PPP play their part and do they really understand their role in it? Indeed, smarting as it is from its own folly, the PPP‘s continued ill-advised behaviour only confirms that it has long lost touch with reality in Guyana and elsewhere. Its current behaviour is not encouraging and it must play its part or become hopelessly irrelevant in Guyana’s political arena. A changing of the guard with new direction and leadership has to occur for it to become relevant in these changing times. Simply put, it must reinvent itself and one hopes that that occurs sooner rather than later.
As the euphoria over the change in circumstances dissipates, the victorious APNU+AFC coalition must also come to the realization that they will now be under much more pressure than the PPP to achieve and do more. Every microscopic detail of their actions will be placed under closer scrutiny. Indeed, so it should be if our fledgling democracy is to be strengthened and Guyana is to progress. They should always be cognizant that it was the ill-advised choices of corruption, nepotism, poor governance and gross mismanagement and the taking for granted of their supporters, etc, that led the PPP to take a free ride into historical uselessness. The APNU+AFC have now become the barometer for a much higher standard of progress in Guyana and this simple fact gives us a much better chance to measure, achieve, and gain that success to which everyone is now looking forward. The APNU+AFC will not please all of the people all of the time but they must strive to please most of the people all of the time.
Let us then give them their first hundred days in office and then take a look at how they turn the corner. Having said that I pray that they do not become reactive politicians/leaders but set finite goals by which they can be judged and Guyana can, indeed, progress. Let them come up with a veritable blueprint for the development of this beloved country of ours so that the potential we all talk and dream of will one day become a reality. To that end I randomly add the following to the to-do list of the new Government of Guyana:
- Doing, not saying, the right things, is what will count.
- Do not make empty promises. If you cannot keep them, don’t make them.
- Crime and corruption and economic development do not go hand in hand.
- All those who misappropriated state resources must return them. If not, let the much vaunted forensic audits I am hearing about lead where they may and the guilty should face punishment as prescribed by the requisite laws. Let us not, therefore, confuse witch-hunting with protecting the assets of the people.
- Are we going to go after the big fish in the drug trade? (I did predict that this would become a major problem for Guyana in diplomatic dispatches in the early ʼ90s)
- What are the plans for the Roger Khans when freed from incarceration?
- What is the real action plan to prevent APNU+AFC from being caught in the tentacles of corruption? Signing only codes of conduct is but a plaster that will not cure this festering sore in our society.
- Sell the Chronicle and the Marriott.
- Bring back Delta Air Lines. Having Delta and Exxon (who together employ about 160,000 employees in the US and around the globe) operating in Guyana will be the magnet for other American business interests and much needed capital inflows and investment. It will also stay Venezuela’s hand and intent.
- Guyana must start to prepare to manage the wealth that will be generated from the discovery of oil. Wealth from oil if allowed to mix with crime, corruption, and drugs are but a recipe for more hardship. Oil rich countries like Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, and Venezuela are not enjoying their oil wealth.
- Strengthen democratic, judicial, political and social institutions and the free press.
- Explain fully the functions of the new Orwellian named ministries to the populace so that they are not labelled as structures to mask this new government’s weaknesses and hidden intentions.
- (Cabinet) meetings should be stand-up affairs with one sit-down session per month. We will get more done this way. Only the President and the PM should have lecterns.
- Invest in drones for the defence and policing of Guyana. It will be cheaper and more effective in the long run.
- Eco-tourism should be encouraged where tourists clean up behind them.
- Ensure everyone is equal in the eyes of the Inland Revenue Department?
- When will we know if everything about the Marriott is legal? The same goes for NICIL and other questionable deals. Deadlines must be set for all forensic audits to be implemented and results shared with the public.
- Efficiency and productivity – work processes of every public entity must be clearly mapped out so that waste and duplication could be identified and eradicated.
- (Constructive) criticism must be tolerated and encouraged and this new regime should learn from it and not come to react or despise it. It can only enable and push the resolve to govern for all the people.
- The death of Crum-Ewing must be properly investigated. Indeed, a special unit should be set up to solve crimes which are buried on dusty cabinets.
- Oil has been found, what about wind farming?
- Rising sea levels and the existence of Georgetown − we need to start planning for this now. Many years ago there was talk of moving our capital to the interior; for obvious reasons now it will be one of necessity.
I can go on and on but I end now by wishing this new regime and its President every success. I have been personally associated with some of the members of the cabinet in the past and I am confident that they will do well and be better stewards of the public interest in Guyana. I am counting on this if only to ensure that two of my very good and late friends, Winston S Murray and Riley C A Abdelnour, can now truly rest in peace. Their dreams of, and hopes for, a better Guyana are now a very distinct possibility.
R N Mungol