The article which was published in the May 16 edition of Stabroek News (SN) under the caption ‘Analysis … A year on, doubts rise on APNU+AFC pledge of good governance – local gov’t elections seen as biggest achievement’ was at best, a poor analysis or a blatant attempt to play down the achievements of the coalition government. I will cite a few examples to illustrate my point.
- Since the article was dealing with the government’s first year in office, one would think that the two photographs SN would have published to bolster the authenticity of the article, would have been those of the two leading officials in the government: President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. After all they are the two high officials of the government with individual and collective responsibility for its success and/or failure. However, instead of including the photograph of the PM alongside that of the President, SN chose to take a cheap shot at Minister of State Joseph Harmon by setting his photograph alongside that of the President. The intention was to send a message indicating that the two big wigs in the government are in reality Granger and Harmon not Granger and Nagamootoo, and they and by extension the APNU, are responsible for the government and its shortcomings, not PM Nagamootoo and the AFC.
- On the issue of national unity the article said, “There were high expectations that having won the May 11, 2015 elections by the slimmest of margins, the coalition would immediately reach out to the opposition PPP/C in the interest of national unity”. It further stated in paragraph five “Arguably, one of the bigger minuses thus far is the failure to meaningfully strive for national unity by engaging the opposition PPP/C which took 49% of the votes in the May 11, general elections.” It is public knowledge that President Granger after ascending to the presidency offered the olive branch to the PPP/C and expressed his and the government’s willingness to discuss with the opposition party, national unity. The author of your article seems to have conveniently forgotten that it was the PPP/C through its principal spokepersons, General Secretary Clement Rohee and former President and now Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo who rejected and continue to reject this patriotic appeal on the grounds that the PPP/C was cheated out of office. Months later this position was changed somewhat. They took refuge in claiming that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo heading the government team for the proposed discussion was a “nonstarter”. Is the author of the article attempting to say that the PPP/C’s antics are not a factor in the unity talks not going forward? The article chooses to ignore the PPP/C’s position and instead, puts the blame solely on the government.
- The author of the article quoted extracts from the President’s address to the National Assembly ‒ the need for “wider political inclusiveness” … “Our nation‘s future stability depends, also, on wider political inclusiveness. The ethnic arithmetic of the past can only mean that a minority could be excluded from government by a majority, however slim. Confrontation characterized the ‘old politics.’ Calculations of ethnic support determined election tactics, the ‘winner-takes- all’ jackpot became the prize of every election. The political landscape became a battlefield, not always of ideas, but of racial rivalry. Communal conflict hampered human development. Mr Speaker, that system belongs to the past. It is now dangerously dysfunctional.” I have deliberately reproduced verbatim, this segment of the article to facilitate readers’ appreciation of the observation I am about to make. I am submitting here that President Granger’s remarks in his address to the National Assembly on Thursday, May12, 2016 represent the most profound and frank acknowledgement of our historic and current political challenges that any President, serving or former has articulated. No serious political analyst attempting an objective assessment on remarks made by a highly placed political person will fail to recognize the importance of the President’s remarks. That analyst cannot be an objective commentator if all that he or she perceives is the ‘negatives’ contained in the presentation. Hence the observation of what he refers to as the President’s failure “… to reflect on the widely-held view that his own party, the PNCR is just as culpable.” It should be noted that the President in his remarks was being magnanimous and did not name any political party. He did not play the blame game, yet he is criticized for not naming his party.
- On the crime situation the article states the popular perception is that the crime rate has increased, in spite of the police claims that the statistics show a 19% drop in crime for the first four months of the year when compared with the same period last year. While highlighting concerns expressed at the Unity Labour Day rally that were critical of the government’s handling of the crime situation which falls into the boundaries of fair comment, I find it strange that the article was deliberately silent on the obvious the speed with which the police have been able to solve most of these crimes and arrest and charge persons.
- Among the controversies the regime had to address were those surrounding the media, and in particular, the Guyana Chronicle. However, the author who seems to have AFC sympathies, chose to ignore this very recent development simply because at the centre of it is Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
In closing my contention is that the article had two clear political objectives. The first was to highlight perceived failures and shortcomings in the government; and the second was intended to place blame on President David Granger, Minister of State Joseph Harmon and the APNU for the shortcomings, real and imagined, of the coalition.