The Berlin walls of PPP/C and PNCR
In the newspapers, readers are constantly reminded that the PNC ruled for 28 years and the PPP for 19.
Examination will show the figures as not being correct. The PNC-TUF coalition started from 1964 while Guyana was still a colony supervised by a British Governor and until Independence Day, Peter D’Aguiar held his sway and made his presence felt in the government.
Full PNC rule really started from Independence Day when the British Governor departed and there was no supervisory authority over Burnham. The Governor General was no problem to him. D’Aguiar was calmly brushed aside even though the coalition persisted, and Burnham took full control over the country. So PNC ruled from 1966 to 1992, a period of 26 years. Then a tidal wave of discontent swept the party from office.
The original PPP governed for a short while in 1953, but the rule of the present PPP did not start until the end of the Interim Government. They ruled for seven years from 1957 to 1964, and then again for 19 years from 1992 to 2011, making their total rule 26 years. There may be a tidal wave, a tsunami, somewhere around the corner. Those two clones of the original PPP have now each governed for 26 years.
The PPP and the PNC do not together comprise the whole body politic of this nation. When those two parties emerged from the original PPP, they rivaled each other for they had become identified separately with the two major races in the country.
Their immediate and instinctive act, despite their common ideology, was to build racial walls to contain and segregate their supporters so as to retain their loyalty, while the rest of the population were left to fend for themselves in a narrow space between those walls.
Since 1957, minus the first two years of the PNC/UF coalition, they had been alternately governing for extended periods, keeping those walls intact, and their endless rivalry and strife in all that time has been a millstone around the neck of this beautiful country.
Guyanese have always been anxious to move away from that type of politics and I posit that at this point in time the single most important political objective of this nation is the demolition of those two walls.
That objective is fundamental to the progress of this nation, and what is now clear is that neither of the two parties, by themselves, have either the desire or the will to move towards demolition. Nonetheless, both of them know that the nation wants a free-flowing society unencumbered by segregating racial walls, which time itself in its leisurely way will eventually deliver, so they have been trying to prepare for that day.
The PNCR, with some urgency because they want to get into government, have been talking about a government of national unity. But this calls for the building of more racial walls.
In their plan, racial identity will have to be maintained in the sharing out of governmental powers, so that each race group will get powers to commensurate with its numbers.
This could even further divide and paralyze the nation. The way forward is not to compartmentalise the races and then apportion power among them, but rather to politically eradicate race, so that people begin to vote for programs and policies and not for race.
The PPP, on the other side, is too happy with the way things are to want to change. Yet they have been looking ahead. They know immigration and defection have been draining away their support.
They saw the importance of the Amerindian community, the largest among the minority races, and when The United Force failed, they strenuously and perseveringly sought to win Amerindian support to a point in which they are now largely successful.
If Ravi Dev’s figure is correct and Indians now comprise only about 40% of the population, then that move by the PPP/C to enlist Amerindian support was very perceptive, and its logical extension, as Jagdeo was apparently the only once to see was to symbolise the unity of the two races by putting up an East Indian/Amerindian-mixed person as their Presidential Candidate. If the PPP/C wins, that astute move will be a heavily contributory factor.
The problem with the PPP/C, however, is they are merely extending their wall to include communities or individuals who come in to support them, while being very careful to retain their own hegemony. This will only continue the strife in the country. There is need for real change, and the initiative will have to come from the people themselves.
Since, as the past has shown, internal dissension in either camp will be ruthlessly suppressed, the place to locate the centre of struggle is in that narrow strip in the middle. That strip is home to the four minority races. Because it is also the natural receptacle for people from the two larger race groups who refuse to be confined behind racial walls, it is really a microcosm of the nation as it should be.
But it is a place of danger, too. The two larger parties have shown that they will not tolerate any party growing either in their walled enclosure or on that middle strip that seriously threaten them. Some examples that became more well-known include the TUF of Peter D’Aguiar, the WPA, and ROAR. The heavy-weights jumped upon them when they were becoming too big and they shrank into nothingness.
Now it is the turn of the AFC. This party is a bit different from the others. The TUF was born in that narrow middle space from which it took its main nourishment, yet it experienced the hostility of both big parties. The WPA was born in the PNC’s enclosure and fought them for space until the Big Man jumped upon it. ROAR saw daylight in the PPP’s space and what happened to it is now history
The two top leaders of the AFC were born in and became senior operatives in the PPP/C and PNCR camps. When they left and went into the middle space to form the AFC, it was clear to all their main support had to come from their erstwhile home base.
Just to survive then, the AFC must see to the demolition of those two racial walls. And co-incidentally that is what Guyana at this time most urgently needs.
So Guyana and the AFC now have a most urgent and important common interest, and that is the need to make the PPP and the PNC give up racism.
Should the Guyanese nation then at this point in our history permit this AFC to be destroyed? After 52 years, do the people of Guyana really want either the PPP/C or PNCR/APNU to continue governing in racial strife? Those strifes could vary in magnitude sometimes with actual slaughter by self-styled freedom-fighters or phantom gangs, with even threats of military take-over. There is no real future for this country that way.
If the people want change, this is the time for them to act. They will have to abandon historical and emotional support for both the PPP/C and the PNCR and support a credible third party. The only such party on the scene at this time is the AFC.
The voters will have to come out in their thousands, and making up their minds up independently, mark their X for the AFC. They will not be voting for personalities or past loyalties. They will be voting to assert a power they alone possess, which they had done only once before – in 1992. It will not be easy. In fact it will be an incredibly daring thing to do and may be far beyond the courage of the average Guyanese. The PPP has not done so badly in government as some people are trying to make out and it is putting a tremendous amount of energy in its election campaign. That campaign has brightened up Ramotar too and he has become positively charismatic. Granger on the other side is projecting a suave and polished personality, and he also is expending much energy in his campaign. If he succeeds in pulling back to APNU the PNC votes that had gone to the AFC in 2006, and if the PPP wins, the AFC will go the way of WPA and ROAR. Politics in Guyana will keep on going the way it has been going for more than fifty years. Will that be good for Guyana?
If the people do come out and vote for the AFC they will be creating history, of course. They will be showing a quality of mind, a breath of understanding that people do not believe Guyanese possess. They will be doing something that places love of nation above love of everything else, something that their descendants will remember with pride.
In a flash they will be destroying the two ‘Berlin Walls’ that have been political landmarks in this nation for just too long. They will be preventing the PPP/C from commencing another round of troubled governance when only God knows how the PNCT and their disgruntled supporters will react. They will preserve peace in Guyana and bring it into the 21st century
I am a realist and I know even if this letter is published very few will read it, fewer will understand it, and on the day it is published it will be forgotten. Yet I think my ideas are sound and if by some miracle they are followed, November 29, 2011 will see the dawn of a New Guyana.
Kumar D. Doobay