Just a cursory acquaintance with politics in the world would tell you that after government changes hands, if the previous regime had engaged in repellant forms of wrong-doing, prosecution follows. To deny that is either ignorance or stupidity. In fact, the same government can merely change its head (Prime Minister or President) and members of the serving administration can be indicted
Three famous cases exist right here in the CARICOM region. The PNC in Guyana remained in power after the death of President Burnham and under Burnham’s successor, Desmond Hoyte, a senior minister, Robert Corbin was investigated for a serious allegation. In Trinidad, the Basdeo Panday regime lost the election and the new Prime Minister, Patrick Manning had Panday prosecuted and jailed for violation of the Integrity Act.
Prime Minister Walters lost power in Antigua and the succeeding government charged and jailed him for corruption. The examples from around the world are countless. At the moment, former Italian PM, Berlusconi is before the courts. Former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is under official investigation. Former Portuguese PM, Jose Socrates, has been charged for financial crimes.
Against this background, one finds it really silly to hear the PPP denouncing Opposition Leader David Granger for remarks that he would prosecute members of the PPP administration who committed illegal and criminal acts if the PNC is in power. The PPP statement went on to echo concern about the implications of Granger’s statement for the investment climate.
Any public statement issued by the PPP will contain idiocy and asininity. The PPP says that it views Mr. Granger’s position as a threat and a plan of vengeance. Isn’t this foolish? In saying that he will prosecute former PPP big-wigs if the PNC gets into government, David Granger was making a commonsensical statement, a statement that emanates from the sentiments of the Guyanese people.
The cul-de-sac that the PPP has found itself in is that corruption is not a political game that the PPP can manipulate to keep its supporters on board. Indians in the countryside will listen when PPP leaders denounce the PNC and African Guyanese for political mistakes. But those same Indians become irate when they hear tall stories about the colossal thieving that the PPP is swimming in. Corruption has become the Achilles ‘heel of the PPP.
Indian supporters of the PPP would like to hear how this minister got so much land, how that minister got so much property, how this PPP big-wig get so much money, how that PPP big-wig became so decadently wealthy overnight. You talk to these people and even though they will not vote for the PNC, they want the PPP to be exposed for corruption. Human beings have an insane attitude to corruption in government.
They feel that stealing from the public purse is taking money that could be put into the country from which they will benefit. If you tell Indian supporters of the PPP that one of their favourite leaders stole millions from the bank he once worked for, they would show no vexation at all. They would cynically tell you that it was the bank’s money, so what. But you let that same minister defraud his Ministry, then, the reaction will change. Citizens feel that government’s money is their hard-earned money that they paid in taxes.
David Granger will have very little room for manoeuvre if, as President of Guyana, he avoids widespread investigations into criminal acts by former PPP leaders, their relatives and friends. But even if Granger wants to avoid that route, the decision is not for him alone to make. There will be enormous pressure on Mr. Granger to prosecute the possessors of decadent wealth stolen from the public purse. And he will have to listen and agree because the fall-out from inaction will certainly weaken his government
The AFC hierarchy will face the same dilemma. An AFC government or an AFC in government will have to prosecute criminal wrong-doers from the former PPP regime because not to do so will carry deadly consequences. As a small party, the AFC in power will have to adhere to the national consensus on exposing corruption. If it chooses to ignore that desire, then it will face extinction in the next elections
The graphic reality in this country is that Guyanese want to know about the PPP’s secret deals, and the cancer of corruption that made even third level leaders of the PPP enormously rich. Once the PPP loses power, its leaders are going to end up in court. They may be freed but after a trial but as night follows day, they are going to court.
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