The APNU and the AFC, their supporters and the media, are misreading the no-confidence motion maneuver of Bharrat Jagdeo, the Leader of the Opposition. The motion has nothing to do with regime change.
The motion is not intended to unseat the government. It was not timed to coincide with the absence of an AFC parliamentarian who is out of the country; nor is PPPC interested in having one of the coalition’s parliamentarians break ranks.
The APNU and the AFC however are assuming that the motion is aimed at forcing elections. The government is scared and running helter-skelter. Bharrat Jagdeo is creating panic and confusion within the coalition.
He has already achieved one of his secondary objectives. He has forced the AFC to run right back into its abusive relationship with the APNU.
The parties to the coalition government have close ranks. This is quite unlike the campaign for local government elections when the two parties were hurling subtle innuendos about each other. The AFC has now run right back into its unhappy marriage with the APNU. And that is exactly where Jagdeo wants it.
Within the PPPC camp there is the widespread view that the AFC, having been rejected and abandoned by the APNU for the LGEs, was planning to use its parliamentary votes to wrest political concessions from the APNU.
The Cummingsburg Accord is no longer valid. The AFC has been unable to force a review of the document and the accord is dead and buried. The only leverage which the AFC holds is within parliament. The AFC was hoping to use its 40% of the coalition seats in the Assembly to wrest concessions from the APNU.
One of the areas in which the AFC could have flexed its muscle is in the Budget debates where its votes are necessary to allow the appropriations to be passed. This could have seen the AFC grandstanding and stealing the limelight.
Jagdeo, buoyed by his party’s performance at the LGEs, wants to be in the spotlight. He believes that those elections pointed to high levels of apathy among APNU supporters.
Jagdeo does not wish the AFC to steal the support of the disenchanted APNU supporters. And if the AFC takes an independent line, it would well end up doing so.
The PPP’s strategy has always been to weaken the AFC because a weak AFC will always mean that the PPPC will win any free and fair election handsomely. Jagdeo prefers – as bizarre as it may sound – the AFC in the APNU camp because he knows that the AFC’s middle class base is not happy with the continued humiliation which its party faces within the government.
The AFC has now jumped fully back into bed with the APNU. This means that any attempt at an independent stance on the Budget is now gone. Jagdeo has ensured that the AFC cannot grandstand during the Budget debates.
Jagdeo wants a debate. He know fully well that he does not have the extra vote needed to successfully pilot the no-confidence motion.
The no-confidence motion was therefore aimed principally at having a grand political debate about the performance of the government. It is for the purposes of political theatre.
Jagdeo has laid out a menu of measures which he would like to see implemented in the Budget. Officially, the PPPC is saying that the motion is about failed economic mismanagement, the removal of subsidies for pensioners, increased taxation, increases in the cost of living, unbridled corruption including procurement fraud, incompetence and broken promises.
But Jagdeo has already spelt out what he wants to see in the Budget. He wants the VAT on water and electricity and medical services removed. He wants the subsidy for water and electricity for pensioners restored. He wants the $10,000 school grants reintroduced. He is asking for the increased water and land charges implemented by the MMA to be removed, the 2% final tax for miners to be brought back and for slashing the increases in water tariffs, fuel prices and university fees.
And he wants soldiers, police and prison offers to be paid their one month bonus which they had enjoyed under the PPPC.
This is the ultimatum that he is throwing down to the government. He knows that the government will not budge on these issues but will offer its own bag of goodies. Jagdeo wants his menu of measures to be on display during the debate on the motion as a prelude to the Budget debates.
Jagdeo does not mind whether the no-confidence motion passes or fails. He is interested in placing on the table certain demands of the PPPC, now that the coalition has been walloped in the 2018 local government elections. He will have his wish regardless of the machinations of the government.
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