In the Kaieteur News column, ‘Eye on Guyana with Lincoln Lewis’ (2nd September, 2018), Mr. Lewis wrote poignantly about the impasse between the Government and teachers: the Government’s actions are forcing the teachers to go on strike as the new school term is upon us. As Mr. Lewis stated, the requests of the teachers are not unreasonable and such requests have been granted under another more mature political administration (the PPP/C) by virtue of respect for rights of workers and the processes of negotiation and arbitration.
The Government’s behaviour since being elected into office can be likened to that of a deceitful man whose sole interest in a woman is sex. All the courting and the flowers and chocolates have only one purpose in mind.
As soon as the man gets what he was after, his actions change, leaving the woman shocked and betrayed. The country is now finding out quite clearly by their behaviour and utterances that all this coalition wanted was political power.
As soon as they got political power, they shamelessly rewarded themselves by increasing their own salaries by 50% without doing any work. What more evidence did one need that these are lost souls in office?
All their electioneering promises to teachers and others were part of the double standard game to which Mr. Lewis referred. Double standards imply having no standards. While Mr. Lewis concludes that the teachers’ impasse is revealing a level of double standards existing in “society”, I beg to differ slightly.
What the impasse and other actions by the Government have revealed is double standards in the minds and hearts of those who currently hold the reign of power. It is revealing severe moral problems in the ideology and leadership of political parties that offer structure to nurture this deceitfulness. This is a very important distinction since there is an enormous gap between the moral standards of the People of Guyana and the Politics of Guyana. Blaming the ‘society’ and the people of Guyana for immorality of Government behaviour is always too easy and it is always one that I can never agree with.
Mr. Lewis is so shocked at the contemptuous behaviour of the ruling party that in seeking to find reasons for the level of moral degradation, he places it at the absence of civics or constitutional education within the school system.
Mr. Lewis concluded that the “nation has lost a few generations due to the absence of a moral compass.” While there may be an element of truth to this conclusion, one must consider that the leader of the present government is not of the “few lost generations” referred to by Mr. Lewis. Hence, the problem of corrupt and insensitive Government is a bit more complex that simply lack of proper education.
Divide and rule is a very effective imperial political strategy because as affected as we are by it, as a nation, as a people, we never seem capable of really improving our awareness to observe it in operation. And if we cannot become aware of it, we cannot overcome it. The simple fact that we must remember from our post-colonial history is that the People of Guyana are never the only stakeholders in determining the individuals who hold political power. We always have second and third parties with a vested interest in determining the leadership of the nation. These external parties, as we know clearly from our history, operate in the present like a stealth bomber. We only come to know of their plans, their interference, their covert operations many years later after some files are ‘de-classified.’ This external interference in domestic politics is the greatest contributor to corruption in domestic politics because they provide the means to empower ‘opportunists.’ We need to know the real source of the wound that hurt us in order to stop applying the wrong balm to our political problems.
As someone smart once said, history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. As a nation, we must not be ashamed of the failures of the past, but we must certainly learn valuable lessons from our past. We need a smarter kind of politics to engage with these external parties so that opportunists are not the only option for them to empower. We need our intelligent, upright citizens to get active in politics for a radical change in political culture.
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