Oct 26, 2015 News
…Says Coalition administration must call Jagdeo’s bluff
In the eyes of University Professor and political activist, Dr. David Hinds, the heated criticisms over the recent salary increases for Members of Parliament (MPs) seem to be simmering down. In going forward, he opines that government must accelerate its efforts in other areas.
On his website, www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com, Dr. Hinds said that the coalition government must make some bold moves. In this regard he said, “They have to go beyond leaking the alleged corruption of the previous government. The government must call (Opposition Leader)Mr (Bharrat) Jagdeo’s bluff and let justice take its course.”
Dr. Hinds was alluding to a recent statement by the Opposition Leader where he called upon the APNU+AFC government to prosecute all those found guilty of wrongdoings during his tenure as President.
The political activist said that if the extent of the rage against the salary increases surprised the government, they would be shocked at the even more intense frustration over their inability to bring the accused to book.
The commentator said, “The appetite for justice on charges of corruption by the previous government is huge. The government must begin to act.”
Further, he said that the government must begin their Local Government campaign now. On this matter he expounded, “Run as a Coalition but include non-party supporters with strong community records on your slates. The campaign should include Local Government workshops or assemblies to explain the importance of local democracy. It must be a campaign for votes, but it must also be a means of reconnecting with the people and reassuring them that despite an error or two on government’s part, they, the people still matter.”
Dr. Hinds asserted that government must also address with haste, the poor wages paid to workers. He reminded that the new budget is coming soon and as such, it is customary for government to bargain with the unions. This he suggested should start now.
The University Professor stated that this should however, be supplemented by wider consultations with the workers themselves. He said that it makes sense to hold a series of Workers Wage Assemblies to speak to them about their wages and get from them how government officials’ wages should be handled in the future.
He opined that the coalition parties, individually and together, should begin a series of community meetings across the country to report to the people on what the government has done thus far and get their feedback.
He emphasized that press conferences and releases are important but insufficient. Dr. Hinds said that Government Ministers should also appear on popular radio and TV programs regularly. They should appear on Plain Talk, Walter Rodney Groundings, Justice for All, African Drums, Facing the Nation and similar programs.
But on the issue of the salary increases, Dr. Hinds expressed that of all the comments made by government officials on the controversial topic, the ones by Prime Minister and First Vice President, Moses Nagamootoo are the most politically sensible.
He opined the Prime Minister this past week did what his other colleagues failed to do. “He acknowledged that there was a revolt against the government action and he suggested that there was some merit in the revolt. Critically, he agreed with some of us that the government should have gone to the people and explain the action. As the Minister of Information he selflessly took responsibility for that error but that does not erase the fact that this was a collective decision.But better late than never.”
Dr. Hinds said that most of the opposition on the salary increases was focused on the morality of the government raising its pay at a higher rate than those of public service workers. He said that this is a serious charge that cannot be won by the government. He said that unfortunately, that is the issue some of the government sought to explain and every time they tried they dug a deeper hole. “You simply cannot win that moral argument; morality is seldom on the side of governments,” added Hinds.
The University professor asserted that Nagamootoo, on the other hand, addressed a less explicit question.
“Part of the rage against the salary hike is the following question—how could you do this without talking to us? And Nagamootoo said yes we should have spoken to you before we proceeded. In effect he acknowledged that there was merit in the opposition and he asked for pardon…The Prime Minister in his admission of error also mentioned public relations. I hear him, but I think it’s more than PR. For me, this was not a public relations error, it was a political error. One great lesson here for the government going forward is that it must consult more,” commented Dr. Hinds.
The political activist said that he is certain that had the Leadership Councils and memberships of the APNU and the AFC been properly consulted the government would have learned that it was a politically risky undertaking.
Similarly he said that had they gone into a few of the communities and raised the issue, they would have been advised not to do it. He said that the government simply did not consult their people and as such they paid the price.
The University Professor expressed that another great lesson the government should learn from this entire hullabaloo over the salary bump for MPs is that what makes technical sense does not always make political sense.
“All of those explanations about correcting the imbalance in the salary regime for government officials make sense to the few among uswho care about such subjects. But the ordinary people who have to make do with precious little instinctively read it differently. This is where political understanding comes in. The technical has to be explained politically. The argument has to be made to the people on how this benefits them and the country,” Dr. Hinds said.
He concluded that the coalition Government must learn to anticipate areas of potential opposition to its policies and actions and address them beforehand. And critically, he said that it must not only anticipate the opposition of the People’s Progressive Party, but of its own supporters.
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