I read what I regarded as a fine critique on power sharing by AFC’s presidential candidate Khemraj Ramjattan in Sunday’s Kaieteur News.
Ramjattan opened my eyes to a number of reasons why caution must be the watchword prior to setting sail onto this unchartered sea. He quoted from two excellent intellects within the Afro-Guyanese community to bolster his argument as to why we must tread cautiously on power sharing in this competitive political landscape.
First is the intellect of ex President Desmond Hoyte, who had admonished against it on the ground that there will not be a genuine, robust opposition to the Government of the day.
Second is the intellect of Professor Clive Thomas, who admonished that there must be unhindered freedom of choice to enter or not to enter such an arrangement; which choice, one way or the other, must be unqualifiedly respected. Not slurs or slanders thereafter, and a heaping of scorn on such a party which proceeds not to want to enter.
Ardent proponent of power sharing, Dr. David Hinds, revealing a certain desperation, attempts a counter to Ramjattan without any edge whatsoever, excepting a racist edge in my humble opinion, in last Monday’s SN. He asserts “not a single Indian leader could bring himself to say that African Guyanese have a right to joint ownership of the Councils of Government based on the proportion of their votes.” And then he goes on to make this obviously infamous plug, again with a racist edge, “I hope Africans who voted for the AFC are paying attention [to Ramjattan’s insensitivity]…… Not one damn seat for them.”
Hinds failed miserably to uphold the prescription of his famous mentor Professor Thomas when the Professor exhorted, “We must safeguard against the power sharing process becoming either “legalized one party rule” or unintentionally creating a national mood in which those who do not share the view that a government of national unity is desirable are seen ipso facto as “anti national”, “destabilisers” or “treasonable”. The good Professor might have well have added another category – “Spoilers”. This is exactly what Hinds is calling Ramjattan and the AFC – “Spoilers.”
Hinds never at any stage put an assault on the arguments of Desmond Hoyte and Professor Thomas…because their arguments are unassailable. Rather, in an intellectually unfair manner he assails Ramjattan who is a true Guyanese son of the soil: who I remembered fought Jagdeo and the PPP internally to give Buxton $200 million for developing its backdam; who fights pro bono the false charges instituted against so many Afro-Guyanese brothers including Benschop, Witter and Lewis; who exposes the PPP Government every day in and out of Parliament, about its corruption, excesses, discrimination, and bad governance, doing so with more profundity and passion than the PNCR.
Though there was ethnic voting patterns over the years, Hinds must not feel that the PNC has ‘transport’ over the Afro-Guyanese or that the PPP has ‘transport’ over Indo-Guyanese. The 2011 elections I believe will prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt. This erroneously conservative perspective is so destructive. It is what Barack Obama had to overcome in the USA.
If the Senator had only fallen prey to the exhortations of the “David Hinds” of the USA when they shouted “No black man will ever be President of America”, Obama would not have been President today.
But I want to make some other points. First, Hinds posits that trust is not a prerequisite for power-sharing or coalition or alliances. Very sweeping indeed! The WPA has entered a coalition with the PNC. Is he saying that the WPA does not trust the PNC or vice versa? Trust is required for
all relationships. When he joined the WPA did he not trust the other comrades he met there? Did he distrust Rupert Roopnaraine?
Second, I am a keen student of politics and my readings tell me that for an effective and, I may add as Ramjattan did, an enduring power sharing model, there must be trust. It is the surest foundational pillar upon which it ought to rest if it is not a sham. I challenge Hinds to name one important academic, writing anything serious on power sharing, who has not agreed that trust is the fundamental prerequisite. It is mind-boggling intellectual dishonestly to say otherwise!
Third, what would David Hinds advise Jacob Zuma if the party which represents whites in South Africa were to demand of the South African President thus: “We White South Africans have a right to joint ownership of the Councils of Government based on the proportion of our votes which comes up to 20%”. Knowing the democrat and statesman in Zuma, he will admonish any of his advisors for publicly saying “Not one damn seat for them.” I expect Zuma’s response to be: “The ANC knows of no such right as you talk about. It is neither in the constitution nor a convention of democratic governance as we in the ANC know it. Please respect that.”
Fourth, what are the consequences to follow if this power sharing model is not accepted? What will the PNC or JOPP or whatever other entity do if this is found disagreeable? Burn down Georgetown? Would it be right for the party of Whites in South Africa, assuming its demands for a 20% in the Zuma Cabinet is rejected, to burn down Johannesburg?
Reading what he wrote last Monday, David Hinds is neither a keen nor a principled student of politics at all. He makes Ramjattan’s caution shine even brighter.
The AFC must continue to do what it is doing. It is the only correct path in this multi-ethnic polity. It must continue the effort to capture growing numbers from all sides of the ethnic divide. It must continue to promote its rotational leadership principle which was creatively developed to avoid maximalist leaders, and never coalesce pre-electorally with the PPP or the PNCR whatever name, shape or form this latter take.
Dr Rohan Somar
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