The call for “shared governance” is becoming more robust, even to the point of threatening violence.
The General of the “shared governance” School of Thought is Dr. David Hinds. His lieutenant is Tacuma Ogunseye. Their advocacy of shared governance over the last 10 years has gotten nowhere. The ruling party refuses to even consider the idea of sharing power. Frustrations have been building. Tensions are rising. Another election is looming. Another victory is guaranteed for the ruling Indo-ethnic party. (Indians make up 48% of the population, Africans 35%). There can hardly be a more appropriate time to start demanding “shared governance”.
And the proponents’ robust calls are beginning to reverberate. First Ogunseye issues his demands and threats. The African-Guyanese Sam Hinds who holds the nominal position of Prime Minister declares: “Ogunseye’s call for shared governance without an apology” is not credible; then argues: “Are the shared ministries to become individual kingdoms, each going its own way? Or will all the ministers see themselves as, required to be, members of a National Team, submitting themselves to the captaincy of the President?” Enters David Hinds: “Guyana cannot be a civil society (think: political and social unrest) if half of its population is treated as political aliens”. Enters Sherwood Lowe:- PM Hinds seems to have forgotten that “many Afro-Guyanese fought against the so-called PNC dictatorship”.
Then Freddie Kissoon tops it all off: – “I would demand that the nation establish some kind of honour in the name of people like Ogunseye, Clive Thomas, Walter Rodney, Moses Bhagwan, Dr. Josh Ramsammy, Eusi Kwayana, Father Andrew Morrison, and Father Malcolm Rodrigues. We owe them a huge debt”. All these men did indeed contribute enormously for the overthrow of the PNC dictatorship”.
I have two observations on this emerging national debate on shared governance. The people who fought and risked their lives to put an end to the PNC dictatorship have been discarded like waste cloth by the current regime. This is a genuine grievance that must be addressed. I have said before that the Jagdeo Administration is more about Indian Triumphalism and not about showing respect for “all our people”.
Observation #2: Shared Governance is not a practical idea. It is unworkable for precisely the reason PM Sam Hinds argued. It is impossible for ministers from PNC and PPP to blend together to work in unison under one master.
But what about the larger question of democracy. Isn’t democracy supposed to be about parties competing for voters’ support and winning elections? And, if no single party wins 51 percent of the votes, then two parties with common philosophies combine to form a coalition government. Dr. David Hinds should tell us what is wrong with the coalition model that recently took place in Britain.
If Dr. Hinds is worried that the PPP will “win” a 51 percent victory based only on the Indian and Amerindian votes – and doesn’t need or care for a single African vote – then that makes two of us. I am deeply concerned about what passes for democracy in Guyana. I have said many times Guyana is not a democracy. We need to do a study of the problem – but I will say “shared governance” is not a solution.
Let it suffice to say: We need to end the existence of ethnic parties and the practice of ethnic politics.
PPP regularly wins with 53-54 percent of the votes – practically all the votes come from Indians and Amerindians. There is no reason on earth why a re-invented PNC with a multi-racial image cannot win over 5-8 percent of the Indian vote. PNC has deliberately, consciously, and with firmness decided to project itself as an ethnic party – and this fact precludes it from winning any (not even 3%) Indian vote. PNC does not understand that in a democracy you have to win votes from many different constituencies. PNC has declared by its numerous actions that it is not interested in doing politics according to democratic norms and rules. (1) PNC has refused to project itself as a multi-racial party (it adheres to an unwritten rule that its party must have an African as its leader – this does not help the party to overcome its lack of trust with the Indian population). (2) It refuses to apologise for its 28-year record of dictatorship and oppressive rule and destruction of the economy – this attitude does not create goodwill and space for open discussions with the Indian community.
The PNC is deliberately adopting a platform and political philosophy that leads to failure. The Guyanese nation that cries out for change from the 20-year reign from a very corrupt PPP government has got to get its act together – and understand how democracy works. If the party leaders need an education on how to structure your party platform and formulate campaign strategy to win votes from across all racial and geographic constituencies there is no shortage of help. Just contact the various institutes of democracy.
The solution to Guyana’s problem is not “shared governance”. It lies in the true practice of genuine democracy.
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