I would like to introduce another angle to your editorial of Friday, July 28, titled, ‘Deficiencies.’ I honestly think that the APNU+AFC (minus the WPA content of the coalition) has entered the terrain of degeneracy and this direction includes the President too, on such a journey. The application of this description to the regime is based on a particular situation within the APNU+AFC leadership which I believe a poor environment of journalism has allowed to fade from the public’s attention.
I have devoted three full columns in the Kaieteur News to this particular development and have alluded to it several times in other columns. A complete picture follows. In February, in his first press conference as elected leader of the AFC, Raphael Trotman told the media (and he was being taped) that after the 2015 election victory, President Granger, on his own, outside of the adherence to Cabinet allocations ensconced in the Cummingsburg Accord, in an act of generosity appointed his son-in-law, Dominic Gaskin; he (Trotman); and Mr Holder to the Cabinet. Trotman made special mention of the President’s son-in-law. He ended that explanation with the words: “We are the three extras.”
As a columnist I thought that was material of the kind editors and analysts would not fail to comment on. My column on Trotman’s disclosure was based on one, single curiosity: if the President went outside of the accord, did the AFC get its quota of forty per cent of Cabinet ministers as stipulated in the accord? The President’s office reacted to the column by a press release accusing me of mischief by writing that the President acted out of patronage (my word) in giving his son-in-law a ministry.
That was dishonest on the part of the President. The most I could have been accused of is publishing an erroneous statement of Trotman’s or that I had misunderstood what Trotman told the media. It was wrong to frame a press release to make it look as though Freddie Kissoon had written that the President had appointed three ministers on his own including a family member. I considered it irresponsible of the President to allow that release to go out.
I suggested that Minister Joe Harmon and the President issue a correction. They never did. I would give anything to hear his explanation.
I don’t know if there was any collusion between the APNU and AFC but soon after (a week to be exact, the AFC emulated the President’s attitude and issued its own press release which mirrored the text that came out of the President’s office. All of this happened in February, just a mere eighteen months into its rule.
This attitude shows a level of degeneracy has crept into the leadership of both of these parties. The term, ‘deficiencies’ may be misleading, because these inefficiencies, mistakes and sloppiness may not be ends in themselves but symptoms. I honestly feel the President and the AFC will not apologize or even attempt an explanation. It is really sad how the 66 year old political culture of this country continues to crate tsunamis of tragedies.
This incident with the so-called appointment of the President’s son-in-law is just another in a never-ending saga of failed leadership in Guyana. I recall the AFC leadership was at their party’s head office selecting their ministers when it was decided to offer the Ministry of the Environment to a friend of some of the leaders of the AFC, even though this woman was as distant from the election campaign as I was from the PPP’s.
That was the turning point for me and the AFC. They left their educated cadres who were in the trenches and who could have filled that position to give it to one of their middle class. I am not a great analyst but I am absolutely sure analysts around the world would concur that it was degeneracy. When I published that information, only one AFC leader got in touch via email ‒ David Patterson. He said the woman was selected because the AFC’s manifesto promised a Cabinet seat to a member of civil society. I was told that was and is misleading.