It’s the first time the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), with the appointment of Mr. Sherod Duncan as General Manager, has a hardcore active politician in this strategic and most powerful position. It is being observed this transformation is happening under Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who has responsibility for government information and the state-owned media, and is the architect of the state-owned media policy post-October 1992. As an aside, students and practitioners of journalism and communication should study the impact and effect of Mr. Nagamootoo’s media and information legacy when he holds governmental responsibility for these areas.
With Mr. Duncan’s appointment and shared views about holding such title (SN June 28, 2018) he’s confirming what was thought to be progressive politics by him on the Georgetown Mayor and City Council was really self-serving disruptive politics. Pellucidly it was never about the capital city, the Georgetown denizens and/or the people of Guyana as being borne out in the undermentioned.
Two of the main things demanded by him during his Deputy Mayorship were to have a security guard at his residence and a motor vehicle assigned to him. Next he started making noise about the parking meter contract, condemning it and calling for it to be scrapped. He was a leading person in the public protests against it, vocally expressed dissatisfaction with a team that Mayor Patricia Chase-Green led to Mexico in pursuance of the parking meters.
His activism that attracted the media and by extension the people’s attention, provided the fuel and energy to the movement against the parking meters. Undoubtedly, as a senior leader on the Council his anti-position lent credibility and caused the protesters to feel his activism was sincere, representative and not self-serving.
It is fair to conclude were Mr. Duncan part of the Mexico trip or truly upset about the parking meters he would have, in the first instance been silent and in the latter made his vote count. And here is why such conclusion is drawn. When the final decision on the Parking Meters had to be taken by the Council some weeks ago he stayed away from voting and called it a protest vote. Hypocritical! A protest vote necessitates presence, casting that dissenting vote, and ensuring it’s recorded for posterity. This would have shown those he led to believe he was anti-parking meter and the brouhaha surrounding it that he was sincere as evidenced by his vote.
Another hypocrisy is the explanation that he did not support the current Deputy Mayor Akeem Peter being elected but preferred the position be held by a co-AFC member, though he congratulated the incoming Deputy Mayor on his position “two hours before the meeting was convened” to elect officers (SN March 16, 2018). His protest was mere noise-making and posturing with his eyes on the prize. It was never about supporting AFC Councillor Lionel Jaikaran for the Deputy Mayor position, it was an opportunity presented to give the impression that that’s what he wanted and was fighting for.
As a Director of GNNL, he who spoke about free speech, freedom of expression, and state-owned media being apolitical was among the ones who voted to remove the two columnists from the Sunday Chronicle for their independent views, which at times critiqued the APNU+AFC Government. This vote showed no regard for the values Mr. Duncan proclaimed nor the right of the columnists to due process, though he oft (rightfully so) reminds that he has successfully read for a Bachelor’s in Law. Isn’t a basic practice of law the respect for due process? Hope such disregard will not come to characterise his management style at GNNL, particularly when the role of state-owned media remains pivotal in moulding and uniting a divided and developing society.
All of the above antics (trickery) were aimed toward the ultimate prize given- bossman of GNNL, appointed by the very Board he was a sitting member of. With the thirst quenched the ‘distressing’ statement that he will not seek re-election as Councilor (SN June 28, 201) is probably his most honest. It confirms two things 1) it was never about the citizens or the development of the City; and 2) it was always about him.
Mr. Duncan burst into the national spotlight as “Captain Clean”, imposingly bedecked in costume and held our attention that a true environmentalist, from among the youth population, was born. In hindsight this costuming would be remembered as the beginning of a plan to satisfy the lust for power, and mowing down any who dared cross his path. This is the poster person all youth aspiring to enter politics and truly serve the people must not emulate or exemplify.