The APNU+AFC government came to office at a point in the country’s history of unprecedented social, economic and political crisis, which have negatively impacted every aspect of national life. In spite of this reality PPP/C propaganda wants us to believe that their time in government represented 23 years of glorious achievements. They want the people of this country to forget that it was under their rule Guyanese experienced the rise of the criminal state with its corrupting and destructive tentacles that penetrated every national institution ‒ state and private. In the process, they left major challenges for the new government to address. Most of these challenges are grave and are impossible for any new government to resolve in the short term. The dilemma which this new administration faces is that if these matters are not addressed in a timely and appropriate manner, the consequences for it will be severe.
Given the destruction of the country when the coalition assumed the reins of government, the PPP/C is seemingly, on fertile political ground since the government is caught in a situation where its best efforts to resolve problems are likely to fall short of public expectations. The political opposition, the PPP/C, is conscious of this fact and has resorted to the use of every trick in the book to take advantage of the situation. It feels emboldened to engage in aggressive political tactics. One only has to recall that soon after the elections the party’s supporters on the East Coast of Demerara squatted on government lands. This gave rise to the allegation that the PPP/C had mobilized them in an attempt to bait the new regime into a confrontation with its supporters, which the government wisely avoided.
The position the opposition party took on the border controversy was also outrageous. Citizens came around to the realization that the PPP/C attempted to undermine the government’s position by the posture it assumed at the height of the crisis.
GAWU, one of the recognized unions in the sugar industry, which is closely affiliated to the PPP/C, called on the sugar workers to strike when there was no justification for that course of action. The primary intention of the leaders of the PPP/C and GAWU seemed directed at the production target set for 2015. The demand for negotiations to take place on a new wages agreement and to conclude discussions on the annual production incentive were in fact red herrings, and not the real reasons for pursuing strike action. It is important to note that in spite of the workers being encouraged to down tools at such a critical juncture in GuySuCo’s history this did not happen. GuySuCo has since announced that it has achieved the highest production target in years. This historic target was achieved in spite of the opposition’s machinations. The leadership of Professor Clive Thomas and GuySuCo’s Board, and the commitment of the management, staff and workers prevailed, proving to be too formidable an alliance for the PPP/C.
The party is also attempting to exploit historic racial insecurity in the society by raising erroneous claims of “witch hunting” by the new government. This is intended to drive fear into its Indian support base with the intention of keeping them loyal. It is also intended to force the government to retreat on its publicly stated policy to bring to justice wrongdoers of the previous regime. My sense is that the tactics of the PPP/C seem to be achieving some limited success among its support base. It is however proving to be counterproductive since it is creating resentment in large section of the nation.
My concern is that the PPP/C’s tactics whether we like them or not are creating some disquiet among sections of the populace, who pay attention to that party’s propaganda. Of greater concern is the growing uneasiness among the APNU+AFC supporters who on the one hand are outraged by the PPP/C aggressive politics and on the other, angered by the apparent reluctance of the government to respond in kind. This apparent reluctance by the government to act in response to the PPP/C’s provocations is seen by APNU+AFC supporters as indicative of political weakness. Our supporters, who have endured more than two decades of PPP/C misrule, now find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They had come around to believing that in this new dispensation justice would have been dispensed swiftly and fearlessly. They are deeply disappointed that this has not been the case and find it hard to understand why the government is taking no initiative in this direction. In my judgment our supporters having taken the short life of the government into consideration, are more understanding of government’s inability to adequately address the economic and social challenges at this time. I believe the recent social and economic measures put in place by the regime have gone a long way to bring the masses and the government to a new honeymoon period. In short the government is ending the year on a ‘Big Bang’ as far as their supporters’ understanding of the economic situation is concerned. It is thumbs up for the President and his team.
But the situation is quite the opposite when it comes to the question of justice for wrongdoers of the PPP/C government. It will be a grave political mistake for the APNU+AFC leadership to underestimate its supporters’ demand for justice on behalf of the nation given the magnitude of the malfeasance. People have long made the link between their economic and social circumstances and the PPP/C’s corruption. It is the slow pace of justice that is driving people’s renewed frustration. This mass reaction to the present political situation is a reasonable response that can only be addressed politically.
It is necessary for the coalition leadership to objectively analyze the mood of its supporters and study the PPP/C’s approach to the politics of the country. Having lost power that party’s leadership has decided that it can best protect its self-interest and push back the government on its intention to prosecute PPP/C wrongdoers by engaging in hostile and aggressive opposition politics. In a not so subtle way the PPP/C has clothed itself. It is trying to present itself as a worthy opposition, when in fact, given the history of its leadership, it is not. As a result of what has transpired so far one is hard-pressed not to feel that PPP/C tactics seem to be working to some extent. There is need for a correct assessment of the balance of social and political forces in the country. Our failure to understand the present reality and take appropriate action in the New Year can undo the excellent achievements of the government and the APNU+AFC coalition.
There are times in politics when a population requires a mental boost to alter perceptions of a political situation. This is the situation with the APNU+AFC supporters. The antidote to their condition is to charge wrongdoers. There is no other way out of this growing political dilemma.