Those who have read PPP/C Member of Parliament Anil Nandlall’s letter ‘Consultations for this government are no more than a publicity gimmick’ (SN, December 24, 2016) which speaks to issues of governance, including referencing Article 13 and 38A in the Guyana Constitution, can definitively conclude that the PPP/C when in government knew what was right.
Mr Nandlall served as Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister during the Donald Ramotar administration, and this nation must no longer be in doubt that the positions he articulated were known to that administration, yet in many instances it operated contrary to this. As legal adviser to the PPP/C government had he insisted on enforcing the Constitution, including taking feedback to Bills brought before the public and National Assembly, the processes of consultation and inclusionary democracy would have been advanced.
In principle there is agreement with the position that the APNU+AFC administration should be receptive to feedback from the public and opposition members in the National Assembly. The principle is guided by two factors: i) none has the monopoly on ideas and knowledge and when persons do not listen to diverse views the nation is robbed the benefit that comes from such engagement; and ii) it is a constitutional requirement. The principal objective of the political system of the state is to establish an inclusionary democracy (Article 13 of the Constitution).
The criticisms of the APNU and AFC when in opposition that the PPP/C government treated them with contempt, ignored their voices/input in governance, and trampled on the tenets of the Constitution were well deserved. Having condemned the PPP/C for not upholding the Constitution the APNU+AFC government has a greater responsibility to uphold this supreme instrument. Additionally respect for this instrument formed an important component in the APNU+AFC elections campaign.
A nation that has suffered through alienation and petty divisive politics rallied behind the APNU+AFC and gave them the mandate on 11th May 2015 not only to manage the business of the state but also to avoid repeating the wrongs of PPP/C governments.
The growth and development of this nation are reliant on maturity, will and commitment from its political leadership. This would see respect for the people and their institutions established to manage their business. The people cannot continue living in an environment of zero-sum politics and unaccountable governance. This nation has had enough of leaders who say one thing when in opposition and do the opposite when in office.
The APNU+AFC government must stop repeating the mistakes of the PPP/C government. And the PPP/C opposition, if serious about making Articles 13 and 38A real, should now develop Bills to be placed in the National Assembly to put laws in place. Article 171 (1) of the Guyana Constitution makes provision for any member of the National Assembly to introduce any Bill, propose any motion or present any petition.