The President has opted for the divide and rule strategy
If President Ramotar does not retreat from his antics, by his own actions he creates the climate for a detestable or short-lived presidency, for he is building a relationship with the public that is adversarial, dishonest and vengeful.
Since the president has no control over parliament, it would have been to his advantage to enlist an approach that respects the supremacy and independence of this branch of government, and work with the legislature, through the PPP parliamentary representatives, to effect a plan of action for the collective wellbeing of the people. Instead, he has opted for the divide and rule strategy, in the hope of the executive escaping accountability, and it must be denounced.
His use of coded language to pit groups against each other to whip up sympathy against the budget cuts says this nation is confronting yet another leader who wants to govern by dictum, not by reasoning and the laws of this land.
The president in his address to an Indian Arrival Day event at Plantation Highbury, East Bank Berbice, in referring to the budget cuts reportedly said, “We were working to build hydro power to give everybody cheap electricity as Linden enjoyed…We don’t want to raise the price of electricity on anyone; we want to bring it down for everyone.” (KN 6/5/2012).
President Ramotar needs to tell this nation why six years ago Linden’s steam turbines, diesel generators and the 69KV lines between the Garden of Eden and Linden were removed and taken to develop electricity in the Berbice region. He needs to come clean on the PPP’s continuous attacks on Linden’s economic independence/self-sufficiency, including transferring their electricity equipment to Berbice.
The PPP also needs to come clean and tell this nation what they did with the money from the sales NICIL made on bauxite properties around the country and the prices these properties were sold for, including accounting for the residual of the over $2.5 billion bauxite workers’ pension plan the government destroyed. This is a mere sampling of the economic attacks Lindeners have been the recipient of, and endured.
Linden always had an electricity operation independent of GPL. It must be said, Lindeners do not benefit from cheap electricity as the result of government benevolence or action. Let me state it clearly, the entire electricity sector in Region 10 was developed on deferred wages/salaries by persons who worked in the bauxite industry over the years. The unions negotiated remuneration packages that allowed an aspect to be channelled towards investment for such things as electricity and water. It is the PPP government that put in train a mechanism to: 1) deny the bauxite community of continuous and sustainable electricity, and 2) put in place a programme to impact negatively on the people’s economic sustenance.
When the president informed a predominantly Indian community he would like to give them electricity at the price of Linden but failed to mention Linden’s electricity history, his party’s assault on the Linden community, and the government’s intent of making electricity prices higher for his audience, his utterings have to be seen within two contexts. One, he is essentially saying that the predominant African Linden community is getting preferential treatment over his audience. And two, though he knows the GPL is presently engaging the Public Utilities Commission for a 20 percent increase, he hopes in hiding this fact, he can succeed in misrepresenting the cuts made by the parliamentary opposition.
It is unfortunate when a president sees the need to stoop to such levels to deceive his base and the nation. It speaks to the contempt he holds for citizens, because were he respectful of them, he would know that lying will hurt the relationship. Unless he is taking his supporters for granted, thinks the PPP holds their supporters’ minds in captivity, and it matters not what others think or say. But for the greater good, the president must desist from playing wedge and dishonest politics with the lives of citizens he has taken an Oath to respect and protect.
This is a man who came from the bowels of the trade union and presumably fought against class warfare, bigotry and racism, yet today, he zealously embraces practices that belong to the incinerator. As president he needs to understand he has a duty and responsibility to work with the people, legislature and the judiciary, and whatever he does must be consistent with building productive relationships or he will have to account for the disintegration he is instigating.
Our public officials must be held accountable for the things they say and do. As such the president is called upon to tell this nation where he got the information “It was they [Indians] who called for the right to vote…” He either provides the evidence or should shut up when it comes to these issues or society will continue to view his conduct as playing groups against each other. It will be better for any leader, regardless of race or political persuasion, to fashion relationships based on truth and quality, rather than seek to divide the people by deliberately misleading groups for their self-serving agenda.
Evidently the coded language forms part of the PPP talking points in their fan-out exercise on the budget. Regional chairman Bindraban Bisnauth is comfortable in a predominantly Indian gathering to say the $4B subvention for sugar “the opposition wanted that money to be channelled into the electricity in Linden although the AFC had claimed that it cared about the sugar workers and had promised them a 20% increase in salary” SN 3/5/2012.
Looking at the gathering, it is clear they do not enjoy the chairman’s socio-economic comfort. We are facing a situation where elected officials are unashamedly using unsettling messages to mask having to account and to enhance their class position at the expense of the working poor, underemployed and unemployed, whose numbers are growing every day. And these are the messages and policies they use our tax-dollars to propagate every day in the state-owned media.
As public officials they are paid by all of us to respect and serve us, yet they seem uncaring of their duty and responsibility. As such it becomes over important every organization and citizen hold them to account since their antics threaten our collective wellbeing.