Opposition politics and grave reality in Guyana
In the Monday edition of the Stabroek News, the editorial titled, “Six months wasted,” made some damning criticism of the opposition for lack of achievements since it won a parliamentary majority in last November’s general elections. There can be no doubt that the opposition parties are not without their faults.
It is also unfair to compare the failings of the AFC with its more powerful and institutionalized partner on the opposition benches, APNU. In a forthcoming column, I will look at APNU since the election, but this I will say for now – in another general election, APNU’s constituencies may not vote or vote against it. The disappointment with APNU has been extensive and intensive.
Having said that, it is theoretically valid to argue that in a dead society like Guyana, opposition activities cannot be as energetic and optimistic as what obtains around the world. The most uneducated person can attempt some form of analysis when it comes to understanding how dead this country is.
You don’t have to go to school to understand that the population in this country is not interested in any kind of activism, be it social or political.
The gravest wrongs can be done to the people of Guyana by their government and they will take it. When there was the industrial dispute at UG in February this year, I met Raphael Trotman in the studio of Channel 6, where we were both recording interviews. He said to me that at UWI in Barbados, a lecturer was dismissed and the student population brought the campus to a halt. This was in a small, tourist island like Barbados.
If anything should have brought thousands of persons out into the streets it was the horrible danger that faced the communities that bordered the dumpsite in Le Repentir Cemetery, when the situation got totally out of control.
Hospital waste was disposed of there. A toxic emanation had formed in the atmosphere, but the residents showed no inclination to protest. When Mark Benschop and I got arrested for allegedly blocking the entrance to the site, you would have thought that even a small gathering would have turned up outside the police station or at the Magistrates’ Court. Not even a solitary supporter showed up.
It was clear from what emerged at the preliminary inquiry into the treason charges that the State had prosecuted the three accused wrongfully. This was a case of three persons who faced horrible political victimization. After eighteen months of court hearings, only five of us held picketing action for these victimized citizens.
Absolutely nothing moves the people of Guyana. The people of Guyana are prepared to take the nastiest of physical and political abuse by their government and just go on their merry way.
In such an environment, it is unreasonable to expect opposition parties to be overflowing with passion, motivation and resources, and prepared to confront an unjust and harmful government. Nature didn’t make politicians to be super-human organisms. To add insult to injury, there are stakeholders from whom the Guyanese people expect to see some form of patriotism; instead they see the invisibilities of these organizations.
How courageous do you expect an opposition party to be when none of the three major business organizations has ever uttered a word of criticism against a government that commits the most egregious violations short of gunning people down in the streets?
The PPP Government can commit the most depraved and immoral wrongs on this nation and our business leaders, who tell us every day that they are the future of Guyana, will find it convenient to shut their mouths, and when they do open them, it would be to give support to an elected dictatorship (I don’t know if I can still use that term because the government is now a minority regime).
Perhaps the most graphic manifestation of this indecency is when the Private Sector Commission, through its chairman, told Mr. Granger in the most insulting, contemptuous and flippant manner that if he has a problem with the way NCN is being administered, then raise it with the Government. In the same breath they told the Opposition Leader that they would like to meet with him because the budget cuts will affect profits.
The Guyana Bar Association is dead. The only time it opened its mouth in the past five years was to call for the confirmation of the Chief Justice and Chancellor. This defunct entity does not see it fit to pronounce on the state’s frequent assault on the rule of law. Dead too is the Guyana Press Association. Dead too is Guyana. Against this lugubrious background of gloom and doom, don’t expect a livable opposition party.