When the APNU-AFC coalition won the general elections of May 2015, the country had voted for, and had high hopes for, change.
Even Guyanese who did not vote in the elections gave the new Government their support and a chance to prove themselves.
However, as events unfolded and the new Government settled into office, slowly the people of this country began to realise that a hoax had been played on us.
The range of condemnation and accusations that were leveled against the PPP/C turned out to be hype and suspicion and excessive noise: all the AFC did to get into power was capitalise on the disenchantment of the people.
The AFC has turned out to be the biggest hoax played on the people of this country.
After all the campaign promises, immediately upon getting the power the people gave to them, the AFC supported a 5% raise in salary for public servants and a 50% raise in salary for Cabinet. Rates and taxes were increased across the board and cost of living immediately increased after the coalition went into office.
Minister (of State Joseph) Harmon is quoted as asking why should he work for the same salary in public office that he paid one of his attorneys when he was in private practice.
And with that statement and other justifications for their huge salary increase just a few months into office, we have established in the House our very own Animal Farm: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
Beyond salary issues, more signs of an unjust and incompetent administration that was misusing its power to pursue its own agenda began to emerge. Carifesta Avenue is now a monument to secret military involvement in civilian police operations. The military invasion of Kaieteur National Park and the detaining of a cameraman, who wanted to verify the boundaries that were the source of contention (KN 12th June.2017), were other acts of aggression against the people of this nation and an assault on the media.
The parking meter fiasco and subsequent protest action in the city of Georgetown as well as the teachers being forced into taking to the streets while the Government ministers were on holiday have helped the people of this nation to become aware that the agenda of the political elite – a NEW Government – is not in alignment with the agenda of their campaign promises.
One can only wonder as to the causes for a NEW Government to be so insensitive to the needs of the people.
Beyond insensitivity, we find contempt from no less a person than the President of the nation.
If we carefully analyse the behaviour, utterances and actions of the President, we will find that a pattern has begun to emerge that can support a theory that the President is pursuing an agenda beyond the responsibilities given to him by the people of the nation when the coalition was elected into office.
Firstly, the President had a candidate earmarked to be the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
He condemned over a dozen Guyanese as neither ‘fit and proper’ nor possessing the ‘integrity, impartiality and independence’ required for the role. The only suitable person for the role was the President’s personal choice. The pattern is to attack the character of the citizens involved, arrogate to himself the higher morality, and then appoint his choice, even outside of the constitution.
This pattern was repeated once again after the GECOM fiasco and allowed the President to interfere directly in the operations of the Guyana Police Force.
It began with “an alleged plot to assassinate the President” and a series of activities and events followed that lead to the removal of Seelall Persaud and David Ramnarine and the selection of a candidate who the President found to be suitable and having the ‘integrity’ and being ‘intelligent and impartial’.
Former Attorney General, Mr. Anil Nandlall, advised the nation that a Commissioner of Police cannot be forced to take leave, nor can he, according to Article 225 of the Guyana Constitution, be removed from office for misbehaviour unless a special tribunal is convened (KN Jan 11, 2018).
Once again, in the removal of Mr. Seelall Persaud, we have the Government of Guyana operating outside of the Constitution, interfering in the operations of the Guyana Public Service.
Since the President is arrogating unto himself morality as the justification for his actions toward nomination of Public Officials, I find it instructive to examine the President’s actions with respect to the whole drug bond scenario.
Former Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. David Ramnarine, was heavily criticised for transferring fallen Police Officers. Worse yet, Dr. George Norton is now the Vice-Chairman of the PNCR.
Contrast the actions of Kamla Persaud-Bissessar who fired eleven Ministers in four years while she was Prime Minister.
It has become clear that the posturing by the President about ‘fit and proper’ and integrity and decency has no deep moral center. It is all an act put on to penetrate the independence of the Guyana Public Service and to insert his choices into strategic posts.
The AFC also asked the people of this nation to lynch the corrupt PPP officials, but forgive the AFC officials: we must still put our trust and faith in Nigel and Cathy Hughes after the entire Sithe-Global conflict of interest fiasco.
I reiterate that double standards imply no standards. And this is a very sad situation for the People of this nation. A lot of us feel saddened. But we must arise from this depression.
What we have in Government is a set of opportunists pursuing an agenda that the people of this country did not set.
The single member of the administration who has voiced genuine concern for the wish of the people is the Hon. Jaipaul Sharma. The actions of this government, including the breaches of the constitution, the contempt for the Carter process and the recent calls for the National Assembly to appoint Commissioners, must be interpreted in the context of the double standards they have shown us.
An alarm has been sounded throughout the nation. It has become clear to me that the citizens of this country have a problem of dictatorship on their hands and the potential for electoral malpractice is evident.
Can we, the citizens of this nation, do more than just shake our head in disbelief at our unfortunate circumstances? As a child, I lived through the PNC dictatorship, and was at home hearing the wailing from the funeral procession of Dr. Walter Rodney, who gave his life up for this country.
As a child, adults fought and paid with their lives for me to enjoy free and fair elections and an independent press. As an adult, I inherited a democracy that was hard earned. Now, as an adult, I am shocked to see a reversal and a callous trampling of the democratic values and practices that were so hard earned. Adults of today have a responsibility to create a stable political future so that our children’s tomorrow may be free of this blight of dictatorship, corruption and political instability.
While I was a graduate student at the Royal Holloway University in the UK, our backyard and playground were the fields of Runnymede where the historic Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. We have inherited a British political infrastructure but we did not endure the centuries long struggle of the British people.
Nor, have we endured the struggles of the American people for freedom. Let us be clear that our struggle is not one of PPP vs PNC politics. It is a relatively young struggle for a democratic political culture, an ideal that Government should be of the People, for the People and by the People.
When we are governed by ideals, our politics can be graceful. Statesmen and women are elevated into politics by their virtues, not their greed and ambition and gerrymandering. Politics is an act of servant leadership, not to be engaged in for personal renumeration.
While the politicians reveal to us daily who they are, we the people of this country must hold onto our center and be the source light in the darkness.
Our struggle in this country for democracy continues and as we stay calm and press on with it, when we feel afraid to voice our opinions and we feel oppressed by legislation, we must remember that people must not be afraid of their Governments, but Governments must be afraid of their people.
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