It is rather refreshing to see Mr. Raphael Trotman and the AFC support the call for shared governance and have a position on it. May I remind him and his colleagues that ACDA’s position on shared governance is not the fourth model as he indicated?
Memory should allow him to remember ACDA was one of the very first organisations to present a paper on shared governance to the Constitutional Reform Commission ages before the PPP and PNC, and now the AFC, presented theirs. ACDA, like the WPA, have been consistent about this issue more than a decade. This principle has been in ACDA’s foundation papers since 1993.
I would also like to remind the PPP and their supporters of what their Founder/Leader, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, presented in 1988 in a paper written jointly with Moses Nagamootoo for the 150th Anniversary of the ending of African Apprenticeship and the beginning of Indian Indentureship. The paper was entitled “Race, Class and Nationhood: The Afro Guyanese Experience”. I quote:
“On the 150th anniversary of the ending of Apprenticeship and the beginning of Indian Indentureship, the greatest tribute we can pay to our ancestors is to pledge to unite and struggle for complete emancipation, which can only come from a multi-ethnic, broad-based revolutionary democracy. It is imperative for the survival and prosperity of this great nation to forge a modus vivendi, a formula for power-sharing, reflective of the composition and interest of all sections of the Guyanese people. We must return to the 1953 era of racial and working class unity and harmony, and fight for emancipation from modern-day IMF and CBI neo-slavery. Emancipation cannot be complete without the freedom of Nelson Mandela and the total eradication of the detestable apartheid doctrine and all forms of racial discrimination”.
The current PPP leadership has lost its way and has imposed a new apartheid on Guyana.
The AFC, from Mr. Trotman’s letter, seems to agree with those organisations and individuals in civil society who believe shared governance is best for Guyana. Indeed, Mr. Trotman states there is “the need for a transformation in the organisation of the country’s system of governance, the AFC is advocating a bottom-up approach that begins with empowering people at the level of villages and communities.”
Mr. Trotman also stated: “Village Councils and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils need to be reconstituted and given new levels of autonomy, while Regional Democratic Councils need to be allowed to function with less interference from central government, including independent executive officers”. These statements are most welcome and reassuring.
In his letter defending the AFC’s position on power sharing , Mr. Trotman seems concerned about my statement that all three political parties are giving the public their usual new year’s dose of “Machiavellian utterings”. He is correct about this view of mine, and some of his statements in his letter re-enforce these long held beliefs of mine. Mr. Trotman, in stating in his letter: “At the
moment there is no platform for sustainable executive power-sharing,” saying “There is a lack of respect and trust among the political actors”, he has confirmed to me the AFC will not be an “agent of change” but just another third party hoping and praying for change…. powerless, toothless and irrelevant to progress in Guyana.
Why? Because Mr. Trotman’s statement about trust shows his party has bought the PPP boogie man “hook, line and sinker”. His letter also brought PPP’s Biblical “jaw bone”, Mr. Kwame McCoy, to pen the following statement in the newspaper: “Guyana’s current governance practices remain one of the most progressive in the Caribbean and the world”. Kwame, snr., also went on to say, “The PPP/C believes that a conscious effort is required by the major political parties to build trust and establish confidence. Without such trust, suspicion will continue, motives will be questioned, policies will be judged on distorted criteria, resource allocation will always be followed by allegations of partisanship, and agreements will be difficult to be arrived at”.
How can a party or a leadership promoting itself as a “change agent” buy into this propagandistic fairy tale about “trust”?
Should I remind the AFC and its leadership what was said by former President Jimmy Carter in 2004 about President Jagdeo? This is what he said:
“Jagdeo is an intelligent and capable leader, but he takes full advantage of the ancient winner-takes-all system in Guyana. Following my meeting with him, I was very doubtful that his political party (PPP/C) would commence new dialogue with the PNC, be willing to make any substantive moves to implement the National Development Strategy, share political authority with other parties, or permit Members of Parliament to be elected by their own constituencies, instead of being chosen from party lists on a proportional basis”.
The issue of “trust” is a massive cop-out. When Mr. Trotman says, “At the moment there is no platform for sustainable executive power-sharing, saying there is a lack of respect and trust among the political actors”, he is basically saying he and the AFC have no ideas on how to move forward or lead. No ideas and no moral courage. In reality, it seems as if both major opposition parties are at a loss and cannot lead Guyana to better days.
Everyone knows, including President Carter, that President Jagdeo is not honest when he talks about inclusive governance. This means there will never be a platform for inclusive governance once he is there, unless he is forced to change. This is simple logic.
To show the lack of thought leadership within the AFC, Mr. Trotman then “warns that if the PPP is brought to the table under duress, the process would not be sustainable. The recent events in Zimbabwe illustrate the point, as a deal for a unity government signed between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has yet to see any progress”.
This is the talk of losers. Why not mention places where there have been successful negotiations for power sharing, instead of offering us a “failure” model whose circumstances are very different from those in Guyana?
Leaders find solutions. They create a vision, they communicate that vision, they then mobilise to achieve their vision”.
What I am interpreting from the AFC, and also from the PNC, is that there is no vision for change…just a hope and a prayer that the PPP will change. In case the AFC didn’t notice what happened last week, the same God they are praying to is the God of Kwame Gilbert, M.P.
Two final points about Mr. Trotman’s response to my letter:
Most people in Guyana do not trust politicians, and politicians don’t trust each other. When, then, will there be trust, given these realities? Enlightened leadership will see Mandela didn’t have to trust De Klerk to bring shared governance to South Africa after millions of black South Africans had been murdered for over 40 years. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi didn’t have to trust their oppressors to bring about change. In 1997, a brave black President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, made peace with Israel without having to trust them.
If the AFC believe the PPP propaganda that “trust” is a perquisite for shared governance, then they should remember President Carter’s words about President Jagdeo. One of the reasons Jagdeo will not move towards shared governance is because of what Dr. Clive Thomas has correctly described as our criminal economy.
Dr. Clive Thomas has said, and we have daily evidence of it through Roger Khan and the recent Canadian drug busts:
” There is the existence of a cabal or coterie of persons comprised mainly, but not exclusively, of selective crime bosses, state officials, security personnel, elements of the criminal justice system, and political bosses, advisors and other insiders. The combination is unique and derives from the particular historical antecedents as well as social, economic and political circumstances in Guyana. This group as I identified wields enormous power as well as commands considerable economic wealth. As the ruling elite, this group has placed itself above the reaches of domestic law while at the same time leading the political charge in Guyana for law, order, public safety and human security”.
Any politician in Guyana waiting for trust to occur is a politician, not a leader. Leaders create the conditions for change.
The AFC’s strategy is quite clear from its letter, namely “It is patently obvious that there has to be a transformation of the way in which the system of governance in Guyana is organised. This reform cannot come simply by tinkering at the top by placing a few politicians here and there, in some committees and commissions, or even in the Cabinet, or by pretending that our National Assembly is our greatest example of a proper, functioning democracy. This change has to come at the most important level, that is, from the people.
“People must have freedom of choice in their villages and communities, with the accompanying right to raise and spend revenue as they see fit. This is why we in the AFC believe that simply having Local Government, and later National Elections, without fundamental changes, will keep us tied to the past. This is the kind of change that the people of Guyana have to demand and expect of their leaders.
“It is the change that lessens the influence of the few, and replaces it with the power of the multitudes.”
Given the state of Local Government reform, this change the AFC is dreaming about will occur at the 2016 elections, because they will not fight for shared governance at the executive level until Local Government reforms have been completed, therefore allowing them to seek constitutional reform for executive power sharing.
The second point is my final one, and this is for all opposition parties in Guyana as well as our citizens.
Guyanese are suffering. Look at their eyes, look at their skin, look at their faces. Look and feel their pain. All races are suffering because of this pernicious Westminster system.
Visionary leadership knows the change must be top down in Guyana. Set the vision and mobilise the masses to this vision. To ask the reverse is madness, or the lack of leadership. Chaos, political malfeasance and racial tensions will only increase by this bottom-up process. To believe a bottom-up process in a racially divided nation will bear fruit rather than chaos shows a peculiar type of non-leadership and moral cowardice that is surpassed only by the stupidity of believing “trust” is a necessary prerequisite for change. Those who believe a bottom-up approach will work have never run a successful business.
Guyana is crying out for leadership, and our political bosses are offering us excuses and unbridled cowardice as an answer. Perhaps the boycotting of Parliament as I suggested three years ago for the release of Mark Benschop would be a good non-violent start in the spirit of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. The Parliament is useless and legitimizes a criminal economy through a corrupt judiciary. As Dr Thomas pointed out…the state is corrupted, the judiciary is corrupted, the security forces are corrupted, politicians are corrupted……by the criminal economy this government has nurtured and promoted.
There is nothing to stop both political parties from a non violent removal from a rubber stamp Parliament, where the opposition is toothless and without ideals.
The fake boogie man excuse that “ah gon lose me duty free concession fo me car” is a non excuse, because Parliamentarians can simply show up to Parliament, then walk away when the session begins.
Our politicians are mostly lawyers. I am sure they are devious enough to find a legal way out, given some of them have actually collected salaries while not even being present in the country for months.
The AFC came into existence calling itself a “change agent”. The only change we are seeing is a room with more political “smoke”. I have no personal quarrel with the AFC. My quarrel is about the AFC providing a glimmer of hope on this desperate landscape and then defaulting from that promise of “change agents”. They are no different from the other parties. Their position on shared governance is about nice words, but no action.
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