— Says if administration fails, it would only have itself to blame
Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds believes that the coalition administration has a “one-term” window to prove it is different from its predecessor, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
And if it does not make it beyond that point, then Dr. Hinds believes that the Government would only have itself to blame.
The University professor made this, among other comments, during his recent writings.
Dr. Hinds commented that this year is shaping up to be a defining one in contemporary Guyanese politics. He said that the government is under pressure from its constituents to do better, while the PPP is trying its best to exploit the government’s inherent weaknesses and self-inflicted wounds.
“I have said over and over that I don’t think this coalition government is steeped in a sense of its larger political significance to Guyana. There is no clear political direction.”
The political activist believes that the Coalition functions more as an administrative partnership. He said that they essentially manage the government.
“But that management is not part of a larger political vision and direction. That, for me, is the major reason that they stumble so regularly and so badly. And in a 50-50 ethnically polarized country, every little stumble is exploited by the opposition as part of that party’s larger political and ethnic narrative— “You see what we have been saying for decades, they are bullies, they are racist, they are corrupt.”
Dr. Hinds stressed that the Coalition must counter that kind of politics with its own alternative praxis, which must do a few things.
He said that the party has to inspire its base that it will use government to remove the barriers to political and economic equality which is at the heart of their narrative of suffering.
Dr. Hinds also emphasized that the coalition cannot simply depend on just the fear of the PPP. He stressed that this must be supplemented by policies aimed at democratizing the political economy to give their constituents a fairer chance to advance.
“But if the attitude to the vendors, to the matter of public servants and teachers’ wages, to small miners and other contractors along with the absence of a comprehensive plan to stimulate small business are anything to go by, the government has a lot of catching up to do in this regard…”
“I know managing partnerships is not easy. The big party invariably dominates, often without much consideration and respect for the so-called smaller partners. Small parties are left with the burden of keeping the government together out of fear of being the spoiler and because some of their Ministers become comfortable with office and would never rock the boat. In the case of the Coalition, I think we have a combination of all of the above.”
Given the aforementioned, Dr. Hinds said that the Alliance For Change (AFC) and the WPA have therefore become prisoners of the logic of a Partnership government with the slimmest of margins. He commented that there is little wriggle room as far as challenging decisions that they disagree with.
He noted however that the parties within the coalition have one thing in power. He said that they want to hold on to power. Without power, Dr. Hinds said that the PNC is big but toothless; the AFC’s importance diminishes if it is not part of government and the WPA will be an echo in the wilderness.
The political activist said that they all need to be in power to affect the larger politics.
“But beyond that they don’t have anything that inspires confidence. They have not created a vision out of a shared world-view. Perhaps, they can’t or maybe don’t want to do so. But the hard truth is that they need something that goes beyond managing the government if they will break the one-term jinx for Coalition Governments in the Caribbean. If they don’t, it will not be because of the fitness of the PPP for office, but because of their lack of political vision.”
Furthermore, based on his assessment of Government’s performance, Dr. Hinds had said that the government seems to be a modified version of the PPP. But the government has since denied this claim. Specifically, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said that there are drastic differences between the coalition administration and the former regime.
Dr. Hinds in an invited comment said that Minister Harmon is correct in pointing out that structurally, the Coalition is very different from the PPP. Dr. Hinds said that Harmon is also correct that in some regards, the Coalition’s political behavior is markedly different from, and better than the PPP’s.
“But I was pointing to the government’s general attitude to the use of power against the powerless and its unwillingness to use its power to bring about overarching positive transformation of the State and the society. I am not convinced that the Coalition differs from the PPP in terms of how it uses state power to effect positive changes for the people at the bottom.”
The WPA Executive Member said that perhaps, the lack of skills available to the government or the fact that the PPP is unrelenting in its vicious attacks on the Coalition or the very fact of having to manage a coalition, have something to do with the inability to drastically distinguish itself from the PPP.
Dr. Hinds said that the PPP was never interested in improving the lot of the working class.
“For example, it fought the public servants at every opportunity. This government is doing the same to government workers when it comes to wages. The economic thrust of the government does not differ much from the PPP when it held government.”
Furthermore, Dr. Hinds said that there is no creativity and imaginativeness as far as tackling issues such as poverty, unemployment and infrastructural development.
“There is a kind of business as usual attitude—nothing transformational and revolutionary The PPP never consulted the people on big or small matters; it shoved things down their throats. This government does the same.”
The political activist said that there was no consultation on raising Ministers salary or moving the vendors or the erection of Durban Park stadium or the parking meter issue or the massive taxations or the Wales closure.
“The PPP was corrupt to the bone. This government is not corrupt, but it is moving far too slowly on the fight against corruption. The PPP used the CIVIC as window dressing. This government does the same with its constituent members. Outside of Cabinet, there is no meaningful consultation. The APNU doesn’t meet regularly. The APNU and AFC don’t meet outside of Cabinet.”
Dr. Hinds said that while the consequences of the government’s praxis are not as disastrous as under the PPP, he said that this does not mean that there are not similarities in attitude.
“So, despite Minister Harmon’s clarification, I stand by my original comments.”
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