Guyana is once again at the political crossroads. How many times have we been here in the last seven decades? Is it that we are incapable of moving beyond our limitations—the limitations of post-plantationhood? From the high of May 2015, we have in three years plunged to the brink again. Why is it that we keep doing this to ourselves? And yes, we do it to ourselves, because the colonial masters have long departed.
Courtesy of a successful no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, we are now in “no man’s land”—trying to figure out what to do. Many on one side of our dreaded ethno-political divide have blamed one man—Charrandass Persaud—for our dilemma. Those on the other side have predictably blamed their competitors for the state of affairs. Still others like this writer have tried to locate the developments in something larger than the political actors—our elite political culture. Maybe it’s a combination of all three factors.
After much anticipation, the Speaker of the House declined to reverse his original ruling, thus throwing the matter to the Judicial branch—the courts. But therein lies the problem. For the PPP, the matter was settled on that eventful night of December 21, when one backbencher from the APNU+ AFC coalition defected. But the governing coalition has invoked its right to review—first in the legislature and now in the courts. There are legal and constitutional justifications for both positions.
But, in the end, it is the politics which would determine the outcome. The eventual ruling of the court would be rejected by the losing side. As I hinted above, the very move to the court is rejected by one side. So, there is a gathering storm—an ethno-political storm. Already new narratives are being crafted that would have long-term consequences for all Guyanese, including the unborn.
Readers may ask where I am going with this. You see, some of us have, maybe arrogantly, chosen to worry about the country. All of the country—its present and its future. We belong to parties and partnerships, but our praxis goes beyond the boundaries of those institutions. Our loyalties are to something larger than the political party. I hold tightly to that praxis and often face the worse vilification for it. We try to get others to see the breadth of our stances and to assure partners and comrades that we are not necessarily oppositional.
For example, I have been told that my criticisms of the tenure of the Coalition Government are hurting the Coalition and Black People. Some PNC members have taken to Facebook and other social media to express their anger at me—the attacks have been grand and nasty. I was initially tempted to quote from one of my favourite Martin Carter poems of resistance—Letter 1—to respond to them. But I checked myself, because in a real deep sense, I understand the origins of their pain and anger, and sympathize with the limitations which the political culture imposes on them.
Many of the criticisms of the government which I have been voicing in public have been voiced by many of those PNC members in private—some of them directly to me. Further, these very criticisms are voiced openly by Black People every day—many went further by using their boycott of the recent Local Government Elections to express those criticisms.
But I understand that it has now sunk in that the risk of losing the government permanently is real. So, it is only human that they have shelved their criticisms and are reaching for unconditional solidarity. And the fact that I don’t appear to be doing so angers some of them—so they “lash you in you head and done the story.”
I understand that if you are a PNC member, the thought of losing the government hits home at two levels—at the personal-party level and at the ethno-racial level. If you are African Guyanese, you are responding to the historical mistrust of Indian Guyanese leaders and the clear and present danger of Jagdeoism.
Yes, I get all of that—I feel it. I understand that some PNC people grudgingly admit in private that some Black People listen to some of us non-PNC people. Hence, they would not want us to criticize the Coalition in public—I get that too. I understand that if you are African Guyanese and you think about the coming oil-wealth in the absence of Black representatives in government, you are tempted to go down the road with even a discredited Black leadership—Lord knows, I get it.
But there is a but. As I said above, my praxis does not confine me to the party and the race. I understand the Black Solidarity argument, but I can’t move that way in the face of the recent past and the gathering storm. I have to let Black People know the truth about our “missteps”, to quote the government. The aim is not to embarrass the leaders, but to pressure them to make a qualitative turn in the right direction.
Just as African Guyanese have fears, so do Indian and Amerindian Guyanese. Indian Guyanese, especially, have deep fears of any government that includes the PNC. I get that. And I know that for the Coalition to win the next election, it needs some Indian Guyanese votes. And I want to assure those Indian Guyanese who are not automatically inclined to the PPP that there are some African Guyanese who should not be feared, who can be trusted to call out our government if it goes down the wrong road.
And there are some African Guyanese, especially the youth who are so alienated from us that they are likely to vote PPP or any new party or simply don’t vote at all. I don’t see how we can convince them to vote for us with a message of “fear the PPP.” They are less likely than other demographics to be swayed by that alone. Maybe I am too arrogant to think that I can help to sway them. But I am trying.
So, while others are busy moping and cussing me out, I have begun what I see as an independent campaign to try to win back our original coalition. My campaign is grounded in truth, independence and self-criticism. It’s a campaign that eschews “follow the leader”, “solidarity at all cost” and fear-mongering. I am not trafficking in “fear the PPP”—that will not put food on the table, provide jobs and contracts, and close the gap between the rich and the poor.
More of Dr. Hinds’ writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news. Send comments to [email protected]
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