Will the AFC and coalition survive the email onslaught?

Dear Editor,

No one can rationally dispute that emails, whether hacked, leaked, deleted or concealed, played a formidable role in determining the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth, USA, in 2016. In Guyana, the coalition government of the APNU and AFC is haemorrhaging from the leaks of a constellation of emails of leaders of the AFC recently.

A clear distillation of these emails devoid of their esoteric frills, clearly illustrates how spineless, duplicitous and impotent the AFC is as a political party itself, and as a partner in the coalition government, and how fractious the relationship is between the two major coalition partners. These revelations do not surprise me. The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) knew this all along and has often alluded to these realities in our press releases, discourses and writings. These emails have vindicated those pronouncements.

I have written voluminously about the authoritarian and undemocratic nature of the PNC. The cold hard truth is that they are simply incapable of enjoying any alliance with any other force, unless that institution is equally authoritarian and undemocratic, or, is prepared to stand idly by and spinelessly allow them to act upon their natural autocratic instincts and is willing to survive in servility in that dictatorial environment. I am not sure which is worse, but there is an abundance of evidence, including the recent emails, which compel to the conclusion that the AFC is guilty of both transgressions.

The AFC is part of a Cabinet, which reviewed and stamped its imprimatur on the controversial parking meter contract. When the protest actions intensified and the public outrage reached a fever pitch, the AFC issued a public statement distancing itself from the parking meter contract and promising to canvass the “government” to review the same, conveying the clear but misplaced impression that it was not part of the same government that gave the parking meter its blessings, just weeks prior. A similar volte-face was committed by the AFC in relation to the imposition of VAT on private education. The AFC was in the National Assembly when the Finance Minister imposed VAT on private education. The Finance Minister did so upon the “signification of Cabinet”, as is constitutionally required of all financial Bills. This means that the Cabinet, of which the AFC is a part, approved this tax imposition. Moreover, the AFC voted in support of it in the National Assembly. Yet when the avalanche of public criticisms came, they cowered, again, publicly proclaiming that they would lobby the “government” for the reversal of this measure.

Minister Raphael Trotman attended almost every meeting between the President and the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom). I have disclosed elsewhere that he participated in crafting a joint public statement issued by the Leader of the Opposition and the President on the matter. Mere hours thereafter, Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, Leader of the AFC, endorsed the President’s appointment. However, when the deluge of public criticism erupted upon the President’s unilateral and unconstitutional appointment of the Gecom Chairman, the AFC started to, characteristically, wiggle. They issued a public statement claiming that they were neither consulted, nor did they participate in the selection of and appointment by the President of James Patterson. This statement was reinforced by another public statement reiterating the AFC’s disclaimer of their involvement in the unilateral appointment of the Gecom Chairman.

Lo and behold, a mere few days after, emails were leaked in which Mr Ramjattan disclosed that he advised the President on the Gecom issue; that he advised the President to reject the second list and to unilaterally appoint a person of his choice. This email clearly contradicted the AFC’s disclaimers in two public statements. It has severely dented the credibility of that party. Even more significantly, it only became public because of the Canadian Chapter of the party, publicly and formally withdrawing from it because of its support of the President’s unilateral appointment. That second list, which Ramjattan advised the President to reject, had the names of at least three persons whom I know, voted for the AFC.

Before we could have properly recovered from those startling emails, a second set of even more shocking emails were made public. This disclosure came upon the heels of the US branch of that party signalling its intention to break ranks over the Gecom appointment. These emails are very revealing and they illustrate vividly, the qualities and characteristics which I have attributed to the AFC above. These emails show the level of indiscipline and unilateralism, if not lack of democracy, which exist within the AFC. Apparently, Ramjattan consulted no one in his party when he tendered his infamous advice to the President. It is this singular act which has precipitated the devastating implosion rocking the AFC. Mr Ramjattan’s description of the persons on the second list is also most revealing. He labelled them “unfit and improper”. I am aware that three of them voted for him.

The email from Dr Rohan Somar contains some striking revelations. He recognizes the flaw of the AFC’s public disclosure of non-involvement in the appointment process and acknowledges that it makes the AFC look “weak and impotent” and seen as “treated like a step-child or a poodle in the coalition”.

Then there is the email from Ms Cathy Hughes. However, it is David Patterson’s email, which takes the cake. I would be remiss if I do not acknowledge that Mr Patterson espoused the embrace of sound political principles and democratic postures and practices. However, the reality has shown that he demonstrably lacks the fortitude to act in consonance with the position he advocates. Instead, he spinelessly not only succumbs but ends up publicly endorsing the very wrongs which he so emphatically criticized. Mr Patterson further exposes the duplicitous nature of the AFC when he asks and answers as follows: “Were we out of office, would we have accepted such a decision to unilaterally appoint a Chairman? The answer is No! …Why are we accepting it now?” The reality is that the AFC has already accepted the decision, has endorsed it and is defending it at great political cost to itself. This position further demonstrates that the AFC is prepared to sacrifice all of their principles for political power, perks and benefits.

Mr Patterson also reveals that the AFC views Dr Bartland Scotland as too old to be the Speaker of the National Assembly. Yet they support his election as Speaker: another act of hypocrisy. I have learnt so much from these emails. Based upon my reading, these are not all the emails in the thread. More will come. Will the AFC and the coalition survive this email onslaught? Only time will tell.

Yours faithfully,
Mohabir Anil Nandlall, MP

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