A Good Life, a Board of Inquiry (BOI) or a Missed Opportunity?
I had three weeks to reflect on our national election results and I would like to share my views on the chance we gave up for ‘a good life’. Was it a Missed Opportunity?
On the 28th November 2011, the electorate of Guyana was promised a ‘good life’ (APNU Manifesto, 2011) but did they grasp that opportunity?
The author of Future Notes (SN, 21stDecember, 2011) explains very eloquently what constitutes a ‘good life’. The views expressed in this SN article are consistent with my own so I wouldn’t expound further. However, did the electorate get it wrong by denying themselves the opportunity to enjoy a ‘good life’ or have they chosen a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to examine the dealings of the previous government?
Either way, a BOI will solve nothing in the short term unless the parties agree to undertake radical reforms of state machinery and a marriage of convenience between APNU and AFC to restore order. It is my view that Guyanese have missed an opportunity of ‘a good life for all’, by returning the PPP/C administration to the executive leadership position which they blatantly abused over the years.
I would actually argue that 28th November 2011 election was the most important election in our lifetime. On this day our chance of a ‘good life’ was on offer, a chance to reverse 19 years of evil one party rule was on offer, a chance to establish an inclusionary democracy that provides increasing opportunities and participation for all of its citizens was also on offer.
Instead, we chose to have an opportunist pack of altered faces and ministerial junkies that will not make a difference to our society at all. The social, economic and political realities of our country make it obvious that we need sweeping changes and not mere tinkering with the faces that pollute parliament.
Nor do we need nuances of difference in the rhetoric we hear so often, promising an improvement in the quality of people’s lives and at the same time, lining their own and their friend’s pockets with state resources.
The opportunity for change was in the nation’s hands, the opportunity to end 19 years of corruption, deceit, poor leadership and hypocrisy was imminent; to put it bluntly, we missed the opportunity of a achieving a better life for ourselves and more importantly our children.
Some critics may say the offer of a good life is still within grasp given the current parliamentary representation: a minority government and a majority opposition. Some of the more hopefuls will see a ‘half full glass’ instead of a ‘half empty glass’. Whichever way one looks at this scenario it would be prudent to conclude that the promise of a good life for all Guyanese will be more difficult to achieve. Over the past three weeks I have constantly asked myself – how did Guyanese get it so wrong? An opportunity has been lost to place greater emphasis on jobs and job creation, reducing the country’s trade imbalance by increasing exports and decreasing imports.
“Education, youth development and women’s rights were also high on the APNU’s agenda, with the creation of special schools for the differently-abled, raising salaries and benefits for teachers, raising the retirement age to 65, child care, general reform of the tax system, ensuring equal representation of women in the national assembly and recognizing ‘caring’ work done by women who work at home” (APNU, 2011). We promised a good life for all Guyanese.
A key question would be – where did we go wrong? I am in no doubt that an internal inquiry will take place if it hasn’t yet started but foremost in our thinking during the process, key players have to figure out how to ‘fill the glass’, how to make good on their promise. After all, a promise is a promise and although ‘half a glass’ presents a compromise position, nothing short of a ‘full glass’ or a ‘good life for all Guyanese’ would be acceptable.
It would be harsh on some of our leaders if I am to surmise that we do too little thinking on such matters because I do know quite the opposite occurs. However, there has been too much acceptance of the status quo.
Perhaps this is one reason why we stumble from crisis to crisis and as a result everything that is wrong looks right because nothing is done to fix it or when attempts are made the process is so laborious the case files conveniently goes missing or the matter expediently skids down the priority list.
A friend of mine consistently tells me that we have come as a nation to accept mediocrity as a standard bearer. My limited knowledge of state apparatus informs me that democracy, of course, stands at the centre of our system. It offers the best hope for a good life, for the future. But if its own working is deeply flawed, if it acts as a means to divide and exclude people, then this becomes an urgent matter for the parliamentary opposition to consider very seriously at the beginning of the 10th Parliament.
A happy life is all we seek at this juncture, given the status quo a peaceful life is a good compromise but a good life for all Guyanese is what we deserve.
Brendon Mounter (MA Ed)