GuySuCo’s decision to de-recognize GAWU was the oxygen of explosive outrage and simmering anger amongst sugar workers in Enmore and Enterprise ECD. Many were disappointed that President Jagdeo’s candidate Donald Ramotar, as a GuySuCo board member was an accessory to the fiasco, despite his surprising denial (SN, 12-23-10).
But anger was directed not only for many in the PPP leadership but also at President Jagdeo himself. Can Ramotar’s candidacy succeed in leading that party to victory in the 2011 elections with this burdensome perception? If the PPP loses in 2011 his political career is finished as he will be blamed.
The explanation by Presidential secretariat employee Dr Nanda Gopaul, who is also GuySuCo’s board chairman that it was all a scare ‘tactic’ was ridiculed, while GuySuCo CEO Paul Bhim was derided as a scapegoat. Why was Gopaul the main defender of a decision in which he did not ostensibly preside or participate and to which Ramotar wants us to believe he was not a party?
How come Robert Persaud as the Minister of agriculture to which GuySuCo is responsible feigns ignorance of the decision to de-recognize GAWU? This bluff ‘tactic’ (KN, 12-21-10) to de-recognize GAWU has backfired industrially for now. But many believe the de-recognition decision must have had President Jagdeo, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud and Ramotar’s total consent due to its importance.
This scare tactic represents a monumental political miscalculation by Ramotar’s promoters for rallying PPP supporters for the 2011 elections. This reminds me of a familiar story of payback and scare tactics.
Babulall, a cane cutter, appeared before a magistrate charged with beating his wife. She nearly died from the beating. “Babulal, you know it’s illegal to beat your wife? She could have died. This is a serious offence. You lucky you didn’t get convicted for murder. An attempt to kill is just like killing”, whereupon his honour imposed a hefty fine on the accused. Babulall looked at the magistrate, shoved his hand into his pants pocket, took out some money and pushed it in his honour’s face, then slowly putting it in his pocket he told his honour: “Me hanah, he said, “if attempt fuh murdah is just like murdah, then attempt fuh pay is just like pay!” Two can certainly play at a game, as sugar workers are no fools.
If Dr Gopaul as GuySuCo’s board chairman believes that they will win any showdown against Guyana’s largest workers union by using scare tactics they have already learned to reset their buttons to their credit.
Already Ramotar has denied any culpability as he quickly protects his rear. How far more will he go?
Sugar workers are not likely to forget the PNC siphoning off the sugar profits from 1972 which their own PPP government only discontinued in 1999. When things were going good they paid their dues but when things “de bad-bad”, now under a PPP government which they helped elect they are being shafted. Who can they trust as when “their party” wins, they nevertheless still lose? Sugar workers teaming up with disgruntled bauxite workers like the good old days to vent their anger cannot be ruled out.
Like Babulall they may attempt a payback when an attempt has already been made to exterminate them in more than one ways.
Many informed observers have become convinced that Ramotar’s runaway high profile anti working class adventures guarantees a PPP loss at the 2011 elections. Why has he suddenly proceeded to discredit his image as a longtime PPP loyalist and party insider? Is he just following orders, if so from whom? Why is he sacrificing his reputation and prestige in constantly alienating his party’s core supporters? Would he able to recoup their support for a 2011 poll victory even if he should gain the PPP’s nomination? Surely any astute political operative must factor in the significant apathy amongst his party’s supporters at the last 2006 general election (about 50,000 did not vote) even before the current GuySuCo shenanigans hit the public. Would GuySuCo’s current scare tactics endear the PPP’s longtime base for any future victory at the 2011 poll?
In a letter (KN, 12-4-10) titled, “Guyana political Games” Dr Fitzgerald Yaw reported that “of the 90,000 people who have not collected their ID cards 70,000 seem to be Indo-Guyanese. This has made the PPP even more scared of losing the general elections scheduled for 2011”. Can the ruling party ignore this
impact on their destiny?
Ramotar’s future looks bleak indeed but he alone can alter it. Will he be trusted if he were to lose? By dropping out of the PPP Presidential race now, he may still salvage his influence and remain a relevant significant force in the PPP long into the future. Currently President Jagdeo is a lame duck President after finding out he will not succeed in getting a third term unlike what Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez achieved.
His flexibility sees him attempting to rule by remote control similar to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Lula who both anointed their successors.
Nagamotoo’s public condemnations of GuySuCo (KN,12-20-10) is however, likely to endear and strengthen his historical fraternity with the PPP base as they may now both see themselves as all receiving ill treatment from the PPP leadership and rally to him.
President Jagdeo’s concern for the PPP’s survival other than advancing his own personal political fortunes would now undergo much intense scrutiny. How he turns off the automatic pilot mode in which he is currently engaged will determine his role in the PPP after the general elections.
He has a dismal record for party work during visits to New York, Canada, England and Guyana despite the gratitude he owes the PPP machinery which sustained him in power. His involvement in the present GuySuCo fiasco and his offer of a meager take-it-or-leave-it 5% bonus (SN, 12-22-10) for sugar workers damages the PPP chances of regaining power in 2011. Where did he find (KN, 12-17-10) $93 million dollars to host the UNASUR summit, yet could not find money for a traditional yearend bonus for sugar workers and suddenly found money in a dramatic turnaround? Why didn’t he do the same for bauxite workers who the PPP has always assiduously courted? The $400 million which he found to bonus the armed forces appeared like magic just as he found $50 million to build Buxton’s Tipperary Hall. President Jagdeo it seems has a lot to explain to his base supporters.
While he has demonstrated economic acumen as President and is a cool political operative he may still surprise his detractors by dropping Ramotar and switching support to either Nagamotoo or Ramkarran. The Guyanese President could still now determine the race by inclusion rather acrimony and thereby facilitate Ramotar retaining his current party position. Both Nagamotoo and Ramkarran have earned his displeasure and are critical of him with Nagamotoo going public unlike Ramkarran who is more sedate and diplomatic.
But Nagamotoo to his credit has always repented and closed ranks to support his party to get re-elected as he did at President Jagdeo’s behest in 2006. While it is a public secret that he was not rewarded with ministerial responsibilities and has been badly treated, Nagamotoo needs to be also reminded that his party would put itself first and he is not indispensible nor above their rules.
This explains why Ramkarran needs to stay above the fray to keep them all in line as he possesses the skills, calm and intellect with the necessary acquired prestige and respect by his fairness both as Parliamentary Speaker and the son of the loyal Boysie Ramkarran, Dr Cheddi Jagan’s faithful sidekick. The older Ramkarran gets the more qualified and acceptable he becomes as Guyana’s ceremonial non executive President if the pronouncements of two PNCR presidential candidates for such a change gain acceptance.
While the PPP old guards may cluster around Ralph Ramkarran, it must be noted that he is making studied legal moves.
By formally writing the PPP’s general secretary that he is taking his campaign public he is behaving as a quintessential party loyalist and looks more a seasoned leader.
Moses Nagamotoo can follow suit to dilute the impression of a snarling dog, always ready to fight those who wrong his working class Guyanese comrades despite his understandable pique at how they are being treated.
Of course Ramotar can also write and mail it to himself as this formally gives him the documentation to advance his candidacy. Heavyweight Clement Rohee would almost certainly do the same and may very well influence the final outcome between Ramkarran and Nagamotoo both of whom he has had an excellent relationship.
Who will emerge Guyana’s Lincoln and Obama who both incorporated their critics in their cabinet? Hillary Clinton is now an integral loyal Obama cabinet member as secretary of state when she and candidate Obama were bitter rivals during the lead up to their party’s 2008 US elections.
Moses Nagamotoo more than any else offers that possibility and be the change Guyana needs. He is a loyal outcast amongst his very own whom he has served faithfully every election over 45 years. Ironically they now have joined him.
But he must exemplify forgiveness and reconciliation for all of Guyana. Currently Nagamotoo is the only PPP candidate (other than Clement Rohee) who has had cabinet experience and increasingly possesses the ‘outsider’ groundings credentials to recoup the apathy and dissatisfaction of the PPP base.
He is also well regarded by his opposition colleagues as all his life he has been “in opposition”.
The PPP leadership can only lead by an example of inclusion. But they first quickly need to demonstrate a public metamorphosis among themselves in integrating their own “opposition”. Failure is now their best friend with a rose in hand.
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