In November 1992, I was in the courtyard of an old colonial style building on Croal Street which was the Head Office of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). An emergency meeting of the WPA executive was taking place. In the courtyard with me, I can remember distinctly, were Osaze and Nigel Westmaas. There were others but I cannot recall who they were.
At the executive meeting there were Eusi Kwayana, Moses Bhagwan, Clive Thomas, current Minister, Keith Scott, Bonita Harris, Andaiye, Rupert Roopnaraine, Wazir Mohamed, Tacuma Ogunseye and Sase Omo. There were others but their names have slipped me. The only topic was the action of President Cheddi Jagan in identifying Clive Thomas to be the Minister of Economic Planning.
The WPA took the decision to write to President Jagan to inform him that he cannot select from the WPA’s leadership who he wants to serve in his Cabinet. It was for the WPA to make that decision and therefore Dr. Thomas declined the offer. The most articulate argument against Dr. Jagan’s action came from Roopnaraine.
I think one can safely say that at that meeting, Roopnaraine was the most inflexible on the rejection of what President Jagan did. President Jagan did not adhere to the WPA request and the WPA and the PPP drifted seriously apart from thereon. Twenty-five years after that, in the year 2017 to be precise, we are seeing the nasty nature of the WPA.
First, the WPA at a press conference last Monday informed the Guyanese people that the party was never consulted on the appointment of Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine as Minister of Education. It went on to say it did not know that the Ministry of Education was assigned to the WPA after the 2015 election results.
The Ministry of the Presidency subsequent to that press conference asserted that the Ministry of Education under Roopnaraine was not allocated to the WPA. What we have is either hypocrisy by the WPA, particularly Clive Thomas and Roopnaraine, double standards and the abandonment of political integrity by these two men or the inexplicable mind at work.
Let us look at the facts that are in front of us. At the time of the 2015 elections, the leadership of the WPA was a collective one as it has always been with two co-leaders. At the time of the election results in 2015 the co-leaders were Thomas and Roopnaraine. Those are the current co-leaders. If Clive Thomas sat as the co-leader of the WPA in 2015 and knew that his party was not consulted on Roopnaraine’s Cabinet selection then he needs to explain, given his iconic standing in this country, why he departed from his principles as adumbrated at that meeting in 1992.
The exact question has to be put to Roopnaraine. He agreed to serve in the Cabinet as Minister of Education in what context? It could only have been in the context of President Granger selecting him as Roopnaraine and not as a representative of the WPA. There are more questions for Roopnaraine and the WPA. First, did Roopnaraine feel it was proper to be selected on his own rather than as a WPA nominee? Secondly, was he uncomfortable with the mode of his appointment seeing that he was the protagonist at that 1992 meeting?
Thirdly, if the WPA has admitted that it was not consulted on Roopnaraine’s inclusion into the Cabinet then, did Roopnaraine ever tell his party that he did not represent the WPA as Minister of Education? If the answer is yes, then how in June 2017, the WPA could make a fuss about Roopnaraine’s reassignment when they knew that the Education Ministry was not offered to the WPA after 2015?
If the answer is no that Roopnaraine did not discuss his Cabinet status with his party then the WPA could still be charged with dishonesty since it is making a fuss about a Ministry that it knew did not belong to it. The WPA’s cry that it was not consulted on Roopnaraine’s redeployment just does not make sense in the context that the party was never given the Education Ministry. The WPA is looking like a chicken, running around without its head.
What is sad about politics in this country is how good men and women started out with virtues oozing out of every part of their bodies and as the years wore on they become caricatures of their original selves. All of them became like this, Jagan, his wife, Janet, Burnham, Ashton Chase, Hamilton Green etc, and certainly one of the most graphic of all of them – Rupert Roopnaraine.
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