DONALD WAS HERE!
It is not too late for Donald Ramotar to stamp his authority on the nature of government’s business. Those who know him can confirm that no one has ever pointed an accusatory finger at him. There are numerous persons who respect him for his personal qualities. They want to see him do good and they are prepared to help him to do good, because they know he is a good man.
He is also a decent man. But it will take more that decency for him to be an effective president. It will take all the moral strength that he can muster, a fair bit of courage and a willingness to make decisions that will not always find favour with everyone.
If President Ramotar is to avoid the label of being a lame-duck president he has to stamp his authority on the seat of government now. He is a matured individual and has his own style. He lacks the honey-tongued slickness and cunningness of a Forbes Burnham. He does not display the arrogance and intolerance of a Desmond Hoyte, the sternness of a Janet Jagan or the willingness to closely manage every detail of government business that was characteristic of his predecessor.
He has the heart and openness of a Cheddi Jagan and is prepared to take his time and do things his own way. That is his style and the Guyanese people will have to be patient with him.
However, he will have to become impatient with those around him, because he is surrounded by many persons who would love to see nothing better than him becoming a lame-duck president. They would love to see him do very little to reverse all the wrong things that happened in the past, because some of them are benefitting from these things.
While the opposition may not admit it, they too would love also for the president to continue in the vein of his predecessor, because they know that the reason why the PPP did not gain the parliamentary majority is primarily as a result of the practices of the Jagdeo administration.
The PPP ought to know this also. But they may be fooling themselves that they lost the election only because of complacency. Instead of the in-house analysis that they have undertaken, they should commission a poll to interview their supporters and ask them why they stayed at home. Some will say that they assumed the party would win easily but many, a great many, will express their disgust at what happened between 2006 and 2011.
Instead of the PPP gaining 60% of the votes cast, it got the shock of its life when it failed to gain a majority at last November elections. And the main reason was because their supporters were concerned about what was taking place during the second elected term of President Jagdeo.
If there is anyone that President Ramotar should distance himself from it is his predecessor, because he is not going to do his future electoral fortunes any favours if he continues to be seen as being close to the very individual whose policies were the main reason for the PPP not gaining a majority.
The PPP supporters by staying away from the polls were making a statement. They were rejecting what took place, and therefore it is reasonable to conclude that for the incumbent president to regain the support lost, he will have to distance himself from the former president and some of his more controversial policies. He does not need this gentleman. No man is indispensible.
While it is natural for the incumbent to feel some obligation to the person who may have engineered his nomination as his party’s candidate for the election, he cannot allow any such obligation, if it exists, to cause his personal support, and that of his party, to further decline.
He also needs to be reminded of the realities of politics. While he is the most decent, fair-minded and affable politician you can find in Guyana, he is not going to enjoy for too long the support of the new economic oligarchy that emerged, especially during the last six years.
He is also not likely to be their favoured candidate for the PPP for the 2016 elections. The oligarchy will want a lambada. And they will engineer their own moves to undermine President Ramotar within the party and within the government.
If President Ramotar wants to be one-term president, then he should have little reason to change anything. But if he is serious about allowing the PPP to regain its lost support and to move this country forward for the benefit of all Guyana, then he has to wake up and smell the coffee, because that coffee has been percolating seven months now.
He has to therefore begin to do more things from his heart, because he has a good heart and he is a good man. He does not need around him anyone who has brought nothing but disrepute to the country and to the party. He has to be his own man and he is capable of being just that. He must not leave the presidency without some achievement that would forever show that “Donald was here!”