At the just concluded Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR and not PNC/R), the Leader of the party advanced a model of national unity that is reflective of our country’s National Motto: One People; One Nation; One Destiny.
This, of course, is neither a new prescription nor a novel articulation of the need for national unity. Someone needs to tell Mr. Granger that this particular ‘One Nation’ boat has long set sail, but has never reached its destination.
The politics of Guyana has demonstrated the futility of pursuing the model of One People, One Nation and One Destiny. We are hanging on to a cliché that may sound nice and reassuring, but which in practice, can no longer be either the means or the ideal to which we are striving.
We should strive to become One Nation, a territorially indivisible country in which its members identity as belonging to a single unitary State. In the minds of most Guyanese we are, in this context, already One Nation. This is our starting point.
Idealistically we should have One Destiny, a set of common, general, broad-based goals which we strive to attain. These goals can be prosperity, freedom, internal justice and security for all. To this you can add a range of other broad goals. This is our destination.
In between, we have to address how we will move from our starting point of One Nation, to embracing a common Destiny. Our motto tells us that we should make this journey as One People.
But our political experience points to this idea of One People as an anachronism. At the level of competition for power there exists deep divisions within our society, divisions based on racial identity. If you cannot settle who will be in charge of the train, there will be problems in the journey.
We hang on to this National Motto of One People, One Nation and One Destiny. But our politics tend to suggest that we are One Nation of Many Peoples seeking One Destiny.
Unless we recognize that within our country are distinct and separate peoples, we will continue to delude ourselves into pursuing a model of national unity that will fail us. This, I believe, is the most fundamental criticism of David Granger’s speech to the just concluded Congress of the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR and not PNC/R). His idea of national unity skirts the ethnic problematic.
It is of course ironic that the Leader of the PNCR should be committing such a grave omission in proposing a model of national unity. His party has long come around to supporting the idea of shared governance.
The PNCR is on record as stating that if it wins power it would share that power with the PPPC. And it is also on record as stating that one of the principal objectives of APNU as an opposition grouping was to convince the PPPC of the need for shared governance.
The development of shared governance cannot be associated with coalition politics or alliances. It cannot be merely about parties coming together into coalitions. It has to fundamentally address the ethnic question in Guyana, and particularly, how to ensure ethnic security under a model of shared governance that would provide comfort to all ethnic groups. National Unity without ethnic security is tenuous.
In his presentation, Granger sought to present the PNCR as a party that has always pursued national unity by seeking political alliances. He referred to the fact that the PNC came to power in 1964 by forming a coalition government with The United Force.
The PNC of course had the option of forming a government of national unity by joining with the PPP. Dr. Jagan was interested in such a merger, but Burnham closed this option by joining in an opportunistic coalition with The United Force. He was more interested in power than in a government of national unity.
By 1968, Burnham had become disenchanted with coalition politics. In fact, in the run-up to those elections, Burnham made it clear that he was not interested in any coalition. He said, “For the next election, it is either going to be Burnham or Jagan. So help me God, I shall never again lead the People’s National Congress into a coalition Government!”
So the PNCR today can pontificate all it wants about it being a party interested in national unity. Its record in political power will demonstrate that when it did have power it opted to hog that power and use it in a most brutal and barbaric manner. It may have talked the talk about national unity, but it has never walked the walk.
After the 1994 local government elections, the PNCR reneged on an agreement it had with the PPPC for the sharing of power within the Georgetown City Council.
And in 2006, in one Region, it again reneged on an agreement it had with the PPPC in terms of the election of Regional Chairpersons. It talks the talk, but it does not walk the walk.
The PNCR did not gain the Presidency in the 2011 elections. But it did, with the AFC, collectively enjoy a one-seat majority. How has it used that majority?
It has used it to dominate the representation of opposition parties in almost all of the Committees in the National Assembly. Indeed it went as far as amending the number of persons in some committees to achieve this goal, so that even though the PPPC won the most seats in the National Assembly, it does not have the majority representation in the committees.
The PNCR has also joined with the AFC in hogging the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
The ruling party was not able to even gain the position of Deputy Speaker. This is how the PNCR operates. It talks the talk about sharing power but when presented with the opportunity to do so it hogs it.
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