The AFC has been outwitted and outsmarted

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to your editorial ‘AFC’s capitulation’ (Nov 27). This is a fair, objective commentary of the state of the AFC. It does not take one to be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to recognize, in speaking with people on the ground or in the diaspora, that the AFC hardly has any support left after just thirty months in office. People placed so much hope and expectation on the AFC when it was launched in 2005 and when it entered into a coalition with the PNC in 2015.  People expect the AFC to hold the PNC accountable and to guide it towards good governance. Instead, the AFC has fallen prey to all of the warnings it issued about the PPP and PNC that they cannot be trusted.

The AFC has destroyed a historic opportunity to change our politics forever. Instead it seems to have destroyed third party politics forever. Its behaviour in office makes it all the more difficult for Guyanese to trust a third party that promised so much and delivered so little. Actually, it has not delivered anything to its constituents or to Guyanese at large.

The AFC was supposed to represent new politics, but it has become very tainted, and once in office it revealed colours not different from the PNC and PPP. Many describe the AFC as opportunistic as the other two dominant parties. There is no question that the AFC has failed its supporters in Guyana and in the diaspora.  That is the talk everywhere. The curious question is why and what will the AFC do about it.

Many are of the view that there has not been any real unity of programmes and activities between AFC and APNU (PNC really, since the other groups in APNU are one-person parties). There was just a common interest on ousting the PPP from office; people were getting tired of an arrogant PPP whose leadership would not listen to rational advice. And once the PPP was out of the way, the focus was on personal interests. The elite of both parties (as well as the one-person parties) directed their energies to learning on the job, sharing the spoils of a change in government, and enjoying the many perks of office. Focusing on honouring and implementing clauses in the agreement and providing good governance fell by the wayside. It was expedient to ignore the Cummingsburg Accord as long as the elite got titles and privileges. Repaying political financiers who funded the campaign to topple the PPP was a major priority. Good governance was thrown out the window; this explains why the AFC closed its eyes to so many corrupt acts or to addressing the needs of its constituents.

One needs to look at the behaviour of the two parties towards their financiers and supporters to determine clear patterns. The two sides have their own separate bases and are expected to address the concerns of their bases. They are not in competition for base support. The PNC can’t attract the AFC base and the AFC can’t attract the PNC base. But the AFC completely ignored and abandoned its base while the PNC has stayed in touch with its base, frequently rolling out sops to it.  The leadership of the PNC continuously and constantly held mass meetings with its base. The AFC has failed to hold meetings with its base or to roll out sops to it in order to hold it together; it held meetings with delegates but not mass supporters as it did prior to 2015.  The party made no effort to meet its supporters in Guyana or North America, or UK or Trinidad. This is very strange behaviour and it has cost the AFC dearly. There was nothing in the way for the leadership to hold meetings with those who supported it in the countryside or the business community or elements in the diaspora.

In the end, the PNC has retained its base while AFC has seen its base evaporate. It is also very clear the PNC has secured its interest by putting its people in key positions. The AFC has failed to ensure the interests of its supporters are served and its people put in key positions. It has been outwitted and outsmarted. Its base has become angry to the point that they no longer wish to engage with the party leadership. Clearly, the AFC has allowed its base to evaporate behaving as id it does not wish to exist any more.

But the AFC can redeem itself. The situation is not hopeless. The AFC has to demand that all of the agreements made in February 2015 must be implemented and demand that its nominee for Gecom commissioner be appointed.

Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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