Over the weekend, David Hinds and Lincoln Lewis have written respective two trenchantly critical reviews of the policies, performance and attitudes of the APNU+AFC regime thus far. These two gentlemen are very close, personal friends of mine; our friendship goes back more than thirty years. It should be alarming for every Guyanese that these two activists have taken the route of critical thought on the balance sheet of the government so far. I say alarming because of who these two men are.
These are first rate nationalists who have been in the trenches fighting the PPP and whose contributions went into the accumulated efforts that resulted in the removal of the PPP from power. When these two activists tell you that the present government is straying, then it is time to take note. Hinds and Lewis are going to pose a problem for those who want to protect the government and use the race factor to confront non-African critics of the current administration.
This is the kind of narrow politics that both the PNC and PPP played when they were in office. When an Indian confronted the Burnham regime, he was quickly dismissed as a supporter of the PPP that was coming from a racist agenda. The Jagdeo and Ramotar governments labeled every African detractor of the PPP regime as racist. I saw that for myself one evening at the Bakewell outlet on Albert Street. At that time Andaiye was in the news for some harsh words she made against Jagdeo. This powerful PPP mandarin accused of all people in Guyana, Andaiye of racism. This was the same woman who fought valiantly alongside the PPP during the Burnham era.
We can expect the race tag to be placed on any non-African who comes out against the mistakes, incompetence and backward politics of the APNU+AFC. Already we have seen the publication of such a letter. This is where my two Black friends will be a formidable challenge for the Granger presidency. Lewis wrote; “The masses are suffering or being thrown crumbs, while the leaders live off the hog, so much so that even their physical and other characteristics are akin to the animal. The vote which has empowered us to elect representatives must not see us accepting whatever they throw at us, lest we end up living on our knees. Our vote doesn’t stop at the ballot, it’s precious, and must be safeguarded every day in furtherance of our empowerment by ensuring those we identified to pursue it and are being paid by us to so do are doing exactly that.” (end of quote)
Hinds wrote; “The absence of a cohesive political direction is that the government has become prone to political mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable while governing, but if the government were armed with a political praxis grounded in a humane political economy and reforming the state, it would have avoided some of the errors it has made. No government guided by a humane praxis would, for example, permit itself exorbitant salary increases and rents, while denying workers a living wage—the contradiction would have been too obvious to miss.” (end of quote)
How are those who are willing to protect this erring government deal with the independent thoughts of my two Guyanese friends? From what I heard in the corridors of power, these two activists are not viewed with rosy lens. David Hinds should know that. Very early in the life of the APNU+AFC regime, an AFC leader exclaimed on television that when you look at the writings of me and David, it looks like we want to bring back the PPP in power. But why should the power-wielders think otherwise when our culture inherited from colonialism has been one of enduring authoritarianism.
The trend that David and Lincoln are now bemoaning I noticed even before the surreptitious salary hike. After they came to power, the APNU+ AFC leaders in an act of depraved shamelessness preserved the steel fortress that enveloped Parliament under the PPP dictatorship, the very gargantuan barricade that in 2012 they voted to remove if they got into power.
Today that steel fortress has been extended far beyond the imagination of any Guyanese who lived in Guyana in 2012. This monstrosity now takes in about a dozen streets that go right up to Princess and Lombard Streets. It creates a nightmare for commuters who can be seen walking for about a mile to catch the minibuses and the scene is an ugly one. This is the kind of freedom that the winners of the May 2015 elections have brought. What a mess this country is in.
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