Politicians have to be careful with what they say in public, because what they say can have a negative impact on the country and its people. The statement about employing only PNC persons is not just awful, but it will virtually end any possibility of a political rapprochement between the PNCR and the PPPC.
The statement was all the more awful considering that the person making the remarks, the Chairperson of the PNCR, had recognized the need for the party to attract more persons “looking like Jagdeo”. How then does only employing PNC persons help that cause.
The comments about attracting more persons looking like Jagdeo, in other words Indians, is perhaps the first time in some time that there has been a public admission that the PNCR is racially imbalanced. The PNCR has always pretended that it is multi-racial party even though, historically, it has derived the bulk of its support from persons of African descent.
The Minister’s comment is therefore the first admission, in recent times, that the party is not as multi-racial as it pretends to be. It is against this backdrop that the Minister went on to mention about jobs for PNC persons.
The PNCR has to explain how, on the one hand, the PNCR hopes to attract Indians into its ranks when, on the other hand, there is a statement by the Chairperson about her giving jobs to only PNC persons. One would have presumed that since the PNCR is now seeking to court greater East Indian support, it would stay far from anything, which can jeopardize that goal.
After more than 60 years as a political party, reality may have finally stepped in on the PNCR. It has come to accept the ‘we’ and ‘them’ dichotomy or the ‘us’ and the ‘other’ dichotomy.
The result of the local government election of November 12, 2018 indicates that the PNCR failed to make inroads into the PPPC’s support base. The PNCR, which when it was in opposition, had championed shared governance, must have realized that the results of the LGE 2018 suggest that coalition politics has failed to bridge the racial divide.
So where does this leave the PNCR?
The PNCR likes to credit itself as the architect of coalition politics. But it has always rejected a coalition with the party, which is supported by the largest ethnic group in Guyana, the PPP.
In 1964, Burnham rejected overtures by Jagan to form a coalition government. He joined forces instead with The United Force. When in 2011, the PPP had a minority government, it sought and believed that it had a deal with the PNCR over the 2012 Budget. But the PNCR backpedaled on that deal, with disastrous consequences. It was no different 18 years earlier when the PPC thought it had a deal for the rotation of the position of Mayor of Georgetown. When, what they believed was their turn to assume the Mayorship, they claimed that the PNC reneged on the deal.
There is therefore a great deal of mistrust between these two main political parties and despite both sides, at the urging of former US President Jimmy Carter, agreeing to some form of talks, nothing has materialized thus far.
So we return once again to the divisive political system, one that is made more divisive by the statements from the PNCR Chairman. Trust between the political parties, but particularly between the citizens and the government, has been tarnished by the recent controversial statements made by the Chairman.
It is difficult to see how that individual can now be part of any possible engagement between the PNCR and the PPPC, or for that matter between the government and the Opposition.
The Chairperson’s statement about jobs for the PNC persons is the final nail in the coffin on shared governance. The PPPC will not even think about broaching this issue if ever the leaders of the two parties meet.
We are going to remain within this ‘us’ and the ‘other’ divide. And this is not healthy, given that demographic changes suggest that all future elections are likely to be extremely close contests.
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