Move to ease marijuana penalties could be an expensive gamble for the AFC

Dear Editor,

In my view the AFC is missing a window of opportunity to reassert itself in the political space. While I think that the issue of whether or not to legalize marijuana, and to what extent, is an important one, I believe that the AFC’s timing in making this a priority agenda item, could work against the party.  It was refreshing to see the PPP supporting the AFC on this matter but  while the act of this support is positive, this could be an expensive gamble for the AFC. The PPP still has high political capital and therefore could afford to take a gamble on issues such as these but AFC does not have that kind of political capital to risk.

The AFC could be missing an opportunity, in terms of timing, to reassert itself  but the AFC has to understand what the Author, Chris Rose stated in his book ‘What Makes People Tick’; and while the marijuana issue is important, it does not make a large section of  the supporters of the AFC ‘Tick’. The APNU understands that very well, rather I should state, the PNC understands that very well. So the AFC, in particular, has to be more analytical about how it prioritizes agenda items. It is one thing for the executive body  to feel strongly about a matter and to set the priority issues but it is even more important, that they understand what are the issues and needs of the wider support base.

Since the 2005 Elections, many supporters for the AFC came from the PNC constituencies,  and based on my more than casual knowledge of how the Guyanese society operates, this is an issue that could push some PNC supporters from the AFC back to the PNC. I took the liberty of distinguishing the PNC from the APNU because of the context in which I am writing; APNU was not in existence since in 2005.

I thought that the AFC came out very firm from its last executive meeting and this  was a good indication, the country needs strong leadership; but the party has to be much more analytical in prioritizing the issues for which it will pursue and mobilize support around.

Other pursuits of the AFC, such as its position on the Bill before Parliament to amend Act No. 10 of 1990 – Local Authorities Elections Amendment Act, rejection of section 18 of the Cybercrime Bill,  etc., among others, are good signs.

Additionally, from a social standpoint, there are a number of gaps which could be prioritized by the AFC party before addressing the amendment to the anti-narcotic law that will effect changes to the section relating to marijuana. For example, a priority for the AFC could be to address the myriad of issues affecting the institution of the family, these include economics, education, etc.; the family is really the base of the society. The reality of so many families in Guyana; is horrendous, which contributes to a number of the problems in the society. Developing and strengthening social systems (safety nets) to provide support to those citizens in need of such support, should also be a priority. Other priorities should be to become more creative in pursuing Constitutional Reform; there is need for so many policies to shift the development approach from being more activity/project-driven to the establishment of clearly defined long-term policies.

Yours faithfully,

Audreyanna Thomas

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