There are two reasons why corruption has taken over the life of the PPP administration and has made the PPP vulnerable to cracking up. There may be other variables at work but this columnist postulates two powerful factors.
First, the “pool of angels” was very tiny. You are not in a position to accuse your neighbour of stealing eggs from Black Street when you steal eggs yourself from Brown Street. This explains why it was logical for someone like Ralph Ramkarran to have emerged as the chief PPP critic against corruption.
Mr. Ramkarran had no niche in the power establishment. He was a senior PPP leader, but it began and ended there. It made no sense to offer him a bribe for securing a contract because he was not in charge of anything within the total public realm.
Mr. Ramkarran, then, was totally free to make accusations because he didn’t fear counter-accusations. It was almost a scientific law why he emerged as the only PPP leader to ask for attention to be paid to corrupt practices. Once the “pool of angels” was small, corruption had to grow, because few were above board after power was consolidated from 1992 onwards (see my article on corruption in Grant and Kirton (eds.), “Governance, Conflict Analysis and Conflict Resolution,” Ian Randall Publishers, 2007).
The second factor that facilitated the monster and monstrosity of corruption in the PPP Government was the process of time. As corrupt party and government officials were identified, the PPP took millions of years to act, by then these persons had become indispensable to the very existence of the PPP. In 2002, a new face in Government had requested the sum of a million dollars from a businessman buddy of President Jagdeo, and I mean a real buddy of Jagdeo (if you know what I mean).
This buddy of Jagdeo told us at Kaieteur News that the guy asked for the money. Had Jagdeo and the PPP acted right at that moment, he would have been gone. But they didn’t. The man was not stupid. If he was to protect himself then there was only one way to do so – become a strong fighter for your bosses. And that is what he did.
By the time the 2006 elections came, he was a faithful that was needed. The longer you serve the party, the more impossible it is for the party to move against you. No clean person in the party will be supported if he/she calls for your removal because of corruption, because arguments will come from all sides to say that the party needs your energy.
A simply hypothetical case will suffice. John is a newcomer and is given a Cabinet portfolio. John becomes corrupt. The party has evidence that John is unsavoury. The party promises to investigate. In the meantime, John goes to work. Every month he organizes a fund-raising event. But more than this, John starts up party cells in parts of Guyana where the PPP has no presence.
Congress comes up and he proves how energetic he can be. Five years elapse since information was acquired that John was depraved. But it is too late to move against John, his mansion, his expensive swimming pool, his foreign bank account. John has become your hard-working party apparatchik.
The clean ones would not be able to convince party seniors that John must go because John is now a party senior himself. To put it in realpolitik terms, John has become indispensable.
This is the problem Cheddi Jagan and Mrs. Jagan faced. When Mrs. Jagan discovered in 1995 that a mere fence of one of her favourites turned out to be a very expensive structure for which he didn’t have the money, she did not have the courage and willingness to act, because this was someone she literally nurtured in her own home.
She faced the same dilemma with another favourite who took money from OMAI gold company. She faced the identical dilemma with a house in Pradoville One which had imported marble material from Italy. In all three of these cases, the corrupt ones were persons that were close to Mrs. Jagan over a thirty-year period and had worked hard for the PPP, its youth arm, PYO and women’s arm, WPO.
Fazil Ally (deceased), the President of the Rice Producers Association, was someone who I struck up a close friendship with during my youthful anti-dictatorship days. Ally died a sad man. He was very angry that the party was adamant that he repay Dr. Hughley Hanoman for fertilizers supplied, but nothing was done about the OMAI money-taker and the marble-laden house.
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