Goodwill and good intentions are not the sole prerequisites for holding political office
Mr. David Granger now has intentions of seeking political office, it seems. That is his right as a Guyanese.
He undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) for which he must be respected and for which he was rewarded by his late hero Forbes Burnham, with the Military Service Star and the position of Commander (de facto deputy chief-of-staff), which no longer exists.
Mr. Granger was respected for his academic brilliance and his proficiency as a planner. In addition to this he displayed greater aptitude for military tactics than the man in the street might give him credit for.
He was not known to be corrupt where finances and resources were concerned.
Mr. Granger is no stranger to the field of journalism, so he must be aware that when one seeks political office, questions will be raised about issues in one’s past.
The following are issues and questions relating to Mr. Granger’s military service, which he needs to address so that Guyanese will know precisely who and what they are dealing with or may find themselves dealing with.
(a) In his book about the GDF he wrote that Burnham had removed most of the GDF officers who had served in the British Guyana Volunteer Force, in “one fell swoop”, back in the early seventies, but there have always been strong suspicions that Mr. Granger had plotted with politicians, notably Elvin Mc David, to have them removed.
He asserts that these gentlemen were removed because they were poorly trained civil servants, masquerading as soldiers and that they lacked any real military knowledge.
These officers returned to the army about a year or so after. This was facilitated by Colonel Ulric Pilgrim who had emerged as the strongman after their removal .They were however, no longer the force they were previously. Mr. Granger would know best what his role was in the whole matter.
These officers resumed their dedicated service to the army and the nation, in some cases serving past the age of retirement, and even Mr. Granger was eventually forced to acknowledge their value. Mr. Granger needs to clear the air on this matter.
Did Mr. Granger protest when Burnham appointed former policeman Norman Mc Clean army Chief-of-Staff after Brigadier Clarence Price was removed?
He asserts that Brigadier Price who had been in the Volunteer Force, was not much of a soldier, but Mc Clean had spent only a fraction of the time that Price spent, in the Volunteer Force and had had no previous service in the GDF.
So was he any sort of soldier? It seems that Mr. Granger’s courage did not match his convictions.
Mr. Granger also claimed in his book, that Burnham had removed Brigadier Clarence Price and Colonels Ulric Pilgrim and Carl Morgan because the WPA had allegedly succeeded in burning down the Ministry of National Development on the previous day. But is this the truth? Not according to one officer, now deceased.
The good gentleman claimed that a female civilian, very close to Mr. Granger(not his sister Joan who was also an officer), had probed him saying that there was some talk of bringing Norman Mc Clean across from the National Service to become army Chief-of-Staff and asked how he thought the officers would react.
Her probes were deftly deflected with no firm response given and then the officer promptly forgot about the matter because he could not see such a scenario unfolding.
Weeks or months later when Norman Mc Clean was appointed Chief-of-Staff and Mr. Granger was appointed Commander following the removal of the three abovementioned officers, the memory came flooding back.
This suggests that the shake up that was executed in 1979 was not a knee jerk response to the fire bombing of the National Development Ministry, but in fad something that was planned long in advance.
How else could that lady have known that it would occur? It would appear that Mr. Granger may have perpetrated a major betrayal of his colleagues in the officers’ corps.
When Desmond Hoyte became President he promptly banished Elvin Mc David to outer darkness and eventually made Joe Singh Chief-of-Staff in preference to Mr. Granger. Was this because of his distaste for intrigue and subterfuge?
(b) There have been persistent claims by former officers and soldiers, that Mr. Granger’s performance was unsatisfactory when he commanded a company (100 men) as a Captain.
It is a fact that there was once a mass sickout among his troops, which in military circles is considered to be close to a mutiny. Some of the very former Volunteer Force officers, who supposedly knew nothing about military matters were shocked that this could occur and asked one of the sergeants in Mr. Granger’s company what the heck was going on.
The sergeant tried to cover Mr. Granger’s shame, for which the enquiring officers respected him, but they knew exactly what was happening and the sergeant knew that they knew. This would surely raise questions about Mr. Granger’s grass roots appeal.
Mr. Granger’s claim that he was not involved in the shooting of PPP supporters on the Corentyne during the 1973 elections is all welt and good, but if those involved were his officers and men, who had been deployed from Atkinson Base, he needs to say so.
If they were, the response he gave could leave those who are still around, feeling that he has cut them loose.
These men may have been ordered to open fire because of a genuine feeling that they were going to be mauled by an angry crowd.
Whether they were there to help rig elections or not is academic.
Mr. Granger was branded a PNC loyalist while serving in the army, by a document in the US library of congress. This information had to have come from CIA personnel operating out of the Georgetown embassy. The same document described Pilgrim and Morgan as “popular”.
(c) While addressing troops at the conclusion of a military exercise in the late seventies or early eighties Mr. Granger referred to Burnham as “father of the nation”. This did not fit in with the natural flow of his speech.
It was inserted in a disjointed fashion. There was no need for such a description to be given at that particular point in time.
(d) Mr. Granger was known to be a rabid, inflexible, doctrinaire socialist during the Burnham days and even sought to have any reference to religion expunged from his personal file, even though he had been a church choir member in his early adulthood.
So rabid and intolerant was he that it is likely that he would have dictated and regulated officers’ political views given half a chance. It reminds one of the PPP old guard.
(e) Mr. Granger viewed with displeasure the use of the army in support of the police in combating the crime wave that gripped the land earlier in the decade.
He asserted that that was not the rightful function of the army. But it was his hero Burnham who had introduced the concept of the “peoples’ army”.
So if there was a semi-insurrection by heavily armed, violent criminals who were hell bent on tormenting the people, what was so wrong with having the army help to confront them.
That function was more in line with soldiering than cane cutting was.
Some may recall that Mr. Granger was pictured in one of the local newspapers gleefully cutting cane in his army gear during a prolonged GAWU strike in the late seventies or early eighties.
Mr. Granger needs to provide responses to the issues raised above.
Goodwill and good intentions are not the sole prerequisites for holding political office. The people need to know you.