I would argue that two periods after Independence offered hope for a transformative, all-embracing, liberated Guyana – the Rodney revolution in the seventies and the rising popularity of a third force, the AFC that offered itself as an alternative to the PNC and PPP.
I would not include the 1999 ascendency of Jagdeo to the presidency even though he was young and had no baggage at all. He could not have been different because he was a captive of the dinosaurs in the PPP’s hierarchy.
When he did break free of them, their influence was still there and Jagdeo became a perverted failure.
The Rodney revolution died when he was killed in 1980. The AFC came upon the scene when Guyanese were virtually tired of the two Leviathans. Between them, they ruled Guyana since 1953. They were the only two parties the younger and older generations knew. By 2010, the AFC’s acceptance as a major player in Guyanese politics was assured. It was a done deal.
As the AFC grew larger with the passage of time, its newness and multi-racial credentials catapulted it into the imagination of the Guyanese people. To understand the magic and melody of the AFC from 2010 onwards, you had to be in its midst.
I campaigned for the AFC in 2011 and 2015 at a hectic pace, going all over Regions 2, 3, 4. 5, 6 and 10. I saw for myself how people across class, age, culture, religion and ethnicity rushed to embrace the AFC.
I honestly believe the AFC is dead as a door nail but I honestly believe that if the AFC had remained as an alternative third force they could have won a plurality of the votes at the 2020 election and form a minority government and displace both the PNC and PPP by 2025. We know now this will never happen.
Acknowledging that it would be dead meat (the two words its leaders used from 2006 onwards to justify its distance from the PPP and PNC) should it ever join the PPP government or form an alliance with the PNC, the AFC ran the risk of becoming dead meat when it broke its promise and did seek an alliance with one of the Leviathans in the 2015 elections.
Voters were cruel to the AFC in the 2015 poll even though it did not run on its own so we could ascertain how many votes it got in specific areas. But even in the hometown of Nagamootoo and Ramjattan, the PPP won handsomely.
Even if we cannot count the votes the AFC got in 2015, its showing in PPP strongholds that it took in 2006 and 2011 were shockingly poor. I went through the GECOM polling station results that it usually releases after each general election. The AFC was humiliated in the 2015 poll.
Its poor showing didn’t mean it had become dead meat as yet. The 2015 GECOM data revealed that traditional AFC strongholds did not want the merger with the PNC. But once in power the AFC did nothing to show that it was an independent party in a coalition with another party and it will assert its character and identity.
The AFC did not have to become dead meat when it acquired power in May 2015. It could have used the deterministic nature of coalition government to carve out its own policies. But from day one, as soon as the ink was dried on the swearing in documents, the AFC ministers were content to act as second fiddle to the PNC.
As the years went by, the AFC appeared in the eyes of countless numbers that it was not the maverick, transformative party it once was.
The 2006 magic moment is gone. The businesses people who gave generously are gone. The enthusiastic youths who flocked to it are gone. The vast sections of the Guyanese population who saw it as the country’s future are gone.
In 2018, the death was there for the entire world to see – a party in government couldn’t win just one NDC in the local government elections. It is this columnist’s deeply held analytical position that the AFC is so battered and tattered that contesting the next election on its own, it will not win one parliamentary seat.
Tomorrow it holds its congress at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre where it will put on display what its leaders said the AFC will become if it ever teams up with the PPP or the PNC – dead meat.
My study window overlooks the Convention Centre. After the congress is over, I will peep hard to see if a hearse or a meat van would be driving out.
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