In a forthcoming column, I will analyze the inelegant situation in Guyana’s politics where President Granger is being favoured to be his party’s 2020 presidential candidate and the only factor cited in commentators’ choice is his financial integrity; more on that later. For now, one just has to look at what is taking place at UG and with the teachers’ strike to see that Mr. Granger is not leading Guyana, not in the least.
The nightmarish problem with Guyana is that it never had admirable political leadership. Colossal mistakes were made since Independence and since then each president has been essentially a disappointing one. Burnham personified the dichotomy between economic radicalization and political vision. Burnham knew the economy in post-colonial Guyana had to move away from its traditional fulcrums, and he went on a pathway that was completely innovative and good for the country. But Burnham had an ugly obsession with power. Burnham’s bad politics killed his good economics.
Hoyte was the opposite of Burnham. His economics were bad. His politics was good. Hoyte was dangerously poor in his intellectual understanding of Guyana’s sociology and class structure. He is credited with earning the name, Desmond Persaud, meaning he reached out to other races, particularly Indians.
Nothing is further from the truth. Whoever thinks Hoyte earned the nickname, Desmond Persaud, is deceiving him/herself. Hoyte embraced very rich Indians that had no time for Hoyte and his policies, but to use Hoyte to make money. Hoyte had no time for the bulk of the Indian population and perhaps never shook the hand of a sugar worker during his presidency. Hoyte’s complete capitulation to the IMF was a destructive mistake.
Cheddi Jagan, more than any other major politician in Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean, was financially an honest man. Jagan had immense flaws, but you will be dishonest if you accuse him of financial wrongdoing. His wife, Janet, who became president had no interest whatsoever in material things and money. Cheddi Jagan’s economics and politics were not revolutionary. He did not possess leadership qualities. Lady luck smiled on him. Had he continued in office, he would have damaged his legacy.
Bharrat Jagdeo to my mind is the least performer of our past presidents. I will not include Ramotar in this enumeration because he was a clone of Jagdeo and only lasted three years, during which time he merely continued Jagdeo’s policies. The mistakes of Jagdeo were terrible, horrible, catastrophic, disastrous and tsunamic. Whenever I write about Jagdeo’s presidency, right away, the presence of Chinua Achebe’s famous book, “Things Fall Apart” falls right at the top of my mind.
The sugar industry, UG, the NIS, the crime situation, the ethnic volcano, the GRA, the forestry sector, tax evasion, industrial relations, the education sector, public delivery of medicine, state of the judiciary, youth unemployment, corruption, political incestuousness, financial nepotism, state victimization, you name it, all took on tragic dimensions under Jagdeo. If there was a clause in our constitution that enabled the state to charge a former head of government for abuse of power, then Jagdeo would have been in jail long before Brazil moved on Lula.
Finally, David Granger. It is forty months he has been at the top of the hierarchy and the French saying is bitingly relevant; “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”
Which institution has improved under Granger? In fact, there is more nonsense going on in certain institutions under Granger than during Jagdeo’s tenure. I say in all seriousness, from all my journalistic investigations, ostentations and reckless spending that Granger tolerates, Jagdeo would have read the Riot Act to his ministers.
Jagdeo’s Finance Minister would not have gone that far in spending dozens of millions in billboards with the face of the Finance Minister announcing the coming of the national budget. Jagdeo would not have accepted the colossal sums being spent on a top heavy administration at UG, with huge amounts going on frequent foreign trips and foreign hotel accommodation and other expensive ceremonies including a lavish inauguration ceremony where I was told the invitations each cost $500 to print. Granger attended the ceremony.
Granger is currently looking for ways to find money to pay our badly exploited public teachers. If he gets his Finance Minister to demand a financial statement from UG as to what is the salary bill for that top heavy administration and how much has been spent yearly on tips and entertainment, he would see where his leadership has let down Guyana badly. The question is, does he care, or is interested in how UG and other state institutions are being administered?
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