David Hinds (de facto leader of the Working People’s Alliance) said on Walter Rodney Groundings on Channel 9 last Sunday that the WPA is opposed to APNU accepting invitations from President Ramotar to talk, when all that happens is that you end up talking about talks, that is, you go to Ramotar to talk about the need to talk.
In a column a few weeks ago, I urged the AFC not to talk to the Government on selected items that the PPP leaders want to discuss. This was in relation to Amaila Falls. At an AFC public meeting last Friday at Stabroek Market Square, I repeated my theory to a few AFC leaders when the topic came around to an invitation by Prime Minister Hinds to dialogue about GPL.
One person in the conversation said to me that if you are invited, you should go and demand to see documents.
Another AFC stalwart made the point that the Guyanese people may not approve of the party’s behaviour, because if the government wants to talk it is expected that the opposition go and seek answers
On the surface, the AFC and APNU’s positions seem plausible.
The opposition criticizes the government for lack of transparency, yet when the Government opens up in crucial areas, the opposition boycotts. The weakness in such an approach by the opposition is that the mood of the people is that though they accept that the AFC and APNU must engage the PPP, they want to see concrete gains in a holistic framework.
I believe that while the AFC might get support for talking to PM Hinds on GPL, the Guyanese people also want to see the AFC acquire concessions on other fronts. The danger the AFC faces is the time factor.
If you keep talking to the PPP and time moves on without great expectations being fulfilled, then there can be a backlash. The AFC and APNU must always bear this in mind.
The opposition is dealing with a bestial creature that is not going to come to the table and give you what you want. The beast will come to the table and talk to you about the need to talk.
But never will there be give and take from the presidential bench. This is what David Hinds means when he said you are going to the Office of the President to talk about talks.
Let us say that the AFC got some important documents on Amaila Falls that the Government was reluctant to part with.
Let us say that the AFC got some informative files on GPL that the Government wanted to keep to themselves. How do these things gel with the people’s expectations? And what are these expectations. It is holistically frameworked in good governance.
I was a guest speaker at that Stabroek Market Square meeting and it was quite easy to ascertain what issues the attendees were angry about. Whenever you mention corruption and instances of undemocratic behaviour, the crowds were energized. The Guyanese people want the AFC and APNU to exert continuous pressure on the Government to democratize, and they will not accept the sharing of documents as a mending of ways by the PPP. They want to see fundamental changes in the way power is used. They believe that the opposition’s control of Parliament must bring democratization.
In relation to APNU, the WPA annoyance was expected. Hinds, in particular, reserved some passionate words earlier this year in television interviews and letters to the press for APNU’s failure to maintain a no-nonsense attitude to the Government.
Hinds is essentially saying that once you talk, you must get something for talking.
The brutal reality is that the PPP will have you talking until the next century comes and it will not concede any territory.
Hinds has offered a realpolitik approach that, though more pronounced in the AFC, is totally lacking in APNU. Hinds’s strategy is that you must go to the talk not to talk about future talks, but to make demands.
The AFC says no agreement to the anti-money laundering Bill unless you implement the Procurement Commission. APNU must do the same. APNU is hard-pressed to show its supporters what it has achieved after the historic 2011 elections.
Hinds is right. Don’t talk to the PPP unless you say to them, we want this and this and this. In plain language, you are going into the talks with pre-conditions and you must not depart even for a minute from those preconditions, because the preconditions are what the Guyanese people want. They want good governance, inclusive governance and democracy, from a government that has to understand that it lost the 2011 general elections.
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