Politics in Guyana has descended to brutish cunning and double standards

Dear Editor,

If life were not precious and the well-being of people something to be taken seriously, the comical, dare I say, actions of politicians would be worthy of theatrical location.

The Alliance for Change (AFC) is the party in the coalition government that has responsibility for the criminal justice system. AFC-elect Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan is also a Vice President. Yet, lo and behold the AFC is apparently forgetting its role and function in the place of governance with its expressed ‘outrage’ at the three-year sentencing for being in possession of marijuana.

Calls for revisiting the criminalisation of marijuana, the sentencing guidelines, and amending the laws in keeping with scientific reviews of the substance are public knowledge. So why is the AFC projecting ‘righteous indignation’ when it is in the driving seat to effect change, including starting a focused national conversation to get the ball rolling?

APNU-elect Minister Joseph Harmon has announced he is contesting for the chairmanship of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNCR), touting as his credential his “longstanding” membership of the party. The PNCR’s constitution, from the days of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, allows for any member, once she/he meets the requirements, to contest for any office in the party’s leadership. Minister Harmon, providing he meets the requirements, would be a beneficiary of this.

What is noteworthy however, is that as the Minister seeks such office, as General Secretary of A Partnership of National Unity (APNU), this institution has not been functioning effectively or efficiently. There has been no meeting of the partners, be it at leadership or general membership, nor facilitation for electing its leaders, all necessary factors in guiding ideological disposition, policy framework and programmes. The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) is one of the most vocal in the partnership belabouring its absence of form and function.

If Minister Harmon is yet to facilitate and institute a framework to make the APNU a functioning organisation, it would be worthy to hear what he has to offer the PNCR leadership, ascending to its second highest office. What is the Minister bringing to the PNCR’s leadership that its supporters and members can feel confident his aim is to improve their circumstances, not opportunity to preside over them. A proven track record, governmental and political, could help his candidacy and should be asked for.

Finally, the WPA via Dr. David Hinds is holding the APNU+AFC government accountable. Having read Dr. Hinds’ various accounts there’s validity in many of his arguments. That being said, the WPA is being asked if it has submitted its proposal to the APNU, as President David Granger said it committed to when he met its leadership following the Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine issue and the party’s complaints of exclusion from governance?

If the WPA submitted a plan to the APNU, as it brought its concerns to the public the party should not find it unreasonable the public desires to be kept abreast with its progress or lack therefore. Was a plan/proposal submitted to the APNU or President Granger? The public would also benefit from knowing how this plan could work to bring about a better society.

The WPA also has to be mindful that its credibility is constantly under the microscope, attracting disrepute in instances. Importantly, as it takes credit in what it calls the fight for democracy, end to authoritarian governance, and attainment of free and fair elections, its members remain deprived at the party level. As a party it is yet to hold an election and have its members elect the leadership, or any general council to hear the input of its membership. Leaders continue to be appointed and there’s no structure in place for mass input from its membership.

Politics in Guyana has descended to brutish cunning and double standards. Strong perception that the pursuit for and retaining of political leadership is not that of service to the people but securing a post-retirement community to ensure a public presence and influencing of a self-styled elite cadre and opportunity to use the electorate for privileged access, cannot be ignored.  Public Service is waning in political actions, office holders and seekers of it.

More is needed from all the politicians beyond calling for actions they are in the driving seat to execute, or running for office because such positions bring inherent power and authority. There is urgent need for politicians holding themselves responsible for bringing about the change the people are clamouring for. They need not forget they identified with these concerns and promised to be the change agent. Underwhelming performance continues to reflect a sad state of affairs.

Yours faithfully,

Minette Bacchus

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