There has never been a congress of any political party in Guyana in which the membership has caused a change in the direction of the political leadership of those parties.
The delegates at congresses invariably end up being mere mouthpieces of the leadership. This was clearly the case many years ago when one of the challengers to the leadership of the PNCR was soundly booed. The membership closed ranks around the position of the leadership and alienated that challenger.
Those who therefore expect the forthcoming congress of the People’s Progressive Party to result in significant changes, both in terms of the leadership of the party and in terms of its policies, will be sorely disappointed.
The forthcoming congress will serve as a mere endorsement to what is already known: the PPP and the government have become captive to a powerful economic class. This class will ensure that there is no change in direction.
It is the leadership of the party that sets the tone for the deliberations. Congress is but a mere formality, a mere photo-opportunity for the party to give credence to democratic participation. However, nothing is going to pass muster that the leadership does not want and the leadership at present wants to show allegiance to the powerful economic class to whom it is beholden.
This is likely to seriously disappoint those who are hoping that the forthcoming congress is going to force the party and the government to address both the perception and the reality of corruption. The Congress is not going to do anything that will make the existing leadership look bad, and will not call for any serious changes to the leadership of the party so as to address the issue of corruption even though the rank and file within the party are concerned that the party has gotten a bad name because of those who in recent times have shamelessly been flaunting their wealth.
If there was any serious attempt to deal with the political fallout from the elections, it would have been expected that the party would have isolated those within its ranks who have been guilty of ostentatious lifestyles in what many consider to be beyond their normal earning power.
Without this lavish lifestyle, the critics of the government would have been hard-pressed to prove that members of the ruling party and administration benefitted from corrupt proceeds. Corruption is one of the hardest things to prove and more so when it comes to proving that monies actually changed hands.
Unless some witness is willing to come forward and admit that monies were paid to so and so, there is hardly a case. But the public forms their own perception of what is happening when they see members of the ruling elite flaunt unbelievable wealth. They are further outraged when they notice how political power has been used to enrich not just the ruling elite but also friends of the ruling elite.
It is now embedded in the minds of many of the supporters of the ruling party that the PPP practiced nepotism and cronyism extensively, and this has taken the gloss out of what would have otherwise been the most outstanding management of the economy.
Instead of the PPP basking in the glory of its achievements to rescuing the economy of Guyana and causing Guyana to be the most successfully managed economy in the Caribbean over the past decade, today there is widespread concern that development has been hijacked, not just by the opposition, but by the ruling elite. And it has been hijacked so as to benefit the economic elite which has taken control of the ruling party.
The party of Cheddi Jagan is dead. The forthcoming Congress will merely administer the last rites and bury what remains of the Jagan legacy. There will be no changes that are not in the interests of the leadership.
Those who are therefore expecting that the forthcoming Congress will grant a mandate to the President to make sweeping changes to his administration are deluding themselves. That will not happen.
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