While I expected a response from the PPP/C to President David Granger’s interview on Mark Benschop Radio, moreso his expressed interest in a new form of governance, I must confess that the response came earlier than I anticipated. If the APNU+AFC and the African Community had reservations on what to expect from a PPP/C government, that uncertainty has been answered by Madam Gail Teixeira in her missive published in the Stabroek News May 20, 2020 edition, captioned `Granger squandered opportunity for inclusionary gov’t he now seeks.’
Ms Teixeira is a major, senior member of the PPP/C leadership, and her statements even in her personal capacity should not be ignored. Her response was well thought out, and not a spur of the moment reaction. It is, therefore a clear indication that the PPP/C’s leadership has not changed. That party has not learned from their 23 years in government and their time in opposition. My prediction is based on my assessment that the party is on a similar road it took when it came to office in 1992 in terms of governance. (Readers should not infer that I am saying that the PPP/C won the elections, that will be decided after the recount process.)
While it is true that both the PPP/C and the PNCR have over time demonstrated shifting positions on shared governance when in opposition and government, the PPP/C’s commitment to this important national issue is more disappointing to say the least, especially post-1992. Given that party’s history, its political advantage in terms of numbers, its uninterrupted 23 years in government (1992 to 2015) – compared with the coalition’s 5 years, the PPP/C has been the more irresponsible of the two in this area of national life.
I remember after the PPP/C returned to office in 1992 Gail Teixeira represented her party at a symposium at the University of Guyana where the issue of power-sharing was raised. She said that the PPP/C was not against power-sharing, but believed that there is not enough trust between the parties and stressed that we need a period of building trust. After being in office for 23 years that trust was not achieved despite Desmond Hoyte’s historical change of heart on governance. As Opposition Leader he had declared, in an address to the nation, that the time for shared governance had come. And his successor Robert Corbin actively pursued that mandate agreed by his party, but got nowhere because of the rejection by the PPP/C and Bharrat Jagdeo.
Let me return to Teixeira’s missive. She wrote, “No Mr Granger. In 2015, the two parties were 50.3% versus 49.7%; there was the golden opportunity to prove his commitment to an inclusionary government which he squandered. Why should anyone trust Granger now?” Readers should note that Teixeira is singing from the old songbook she used at UG nearly two decades ago, that is, inclusionary/shared governance is a matter of “trust” not a necessary imperative for national cohesion and racial justice. She poses the question, why should anyone trust Granger based on the coalition record. I now ask why should anyone trust a new PPP/C government to implement inclusionary democracy based on its record in government for 23 years?
She continued: “Granger’s “eureka” moment has come five years too late. This will never be possible under Granger’s tutelage”. And, “ I have no doubt that there will be inclusionary governance, and, we shall as a people and nation work together to develop an inclusionary form of government, not by divvying up the spoils as Granger and others advocate, but through a national inclusive consultative process.” Here we have a clear PPP/C affirmation of one-party domination, clothed in fancy words. Ms Teixeira, who do you think that you are fooling?
As I indicated above, the PPP/C is on the same path that it pursued in 1992 when it came to office, that is, seeking to punish the African community for the actions of its political leadership. The PPP/C has no sense of historical political moments and the possibilities in these moments. And they seem set on the same destructive political behaviour, not realizing however that the present historical moment is unlike previous times with unprecedented challenges requiring unprecedented solutions.
I close by saying that even the “politically naive” must realise that in the context of the tremendous oil and gas wealth the political engagement is not the old contestation. And winner takes all political forms of governance is now counter-productive, given its zero-sum logic. In this new reality, there is no time for playing the old discredited “trust game” of the past that led us to the present volatile and dangerous situation.