The imminent election will be the most defining one in Guyana’s post-independence experience. There is a lot at stake. Whatever happens going forward, this country will change dramatically.
The coming of the Oil and Gas economy would have far-reaching economic and political consequences. For me, that is what the debate and discourses on the campaign trail should be about—how the politicians plan to manage the expected collective wealth? All other issues would in one way or another be affected by that central phenomenon.
As I have contended before in this column, the heated debates and arguments over the CCJ rulings and their consequences are ultimately about the coming elections. Both major political forces are fighting to ensure that they get the early advantage in the contest. The PPP hopes that its victory at the CCJ would translate into a political advantage as far as the election date is concerned. That party wants an early date because it would minimise the time for a thorough cleansing of the Voters’ List which in its current state seems to give the PPP a better chance of victory. On the other hand, the governing Coalition appears to have more confidence in a cleaner list.
On this score, the Coalition is standing on firmer ground—any credible election assumes a credible Voters’ List. The PPP’s argument that since the Coalition did not raise any doubts about the list a few months ago, it should be satisfied with it now is flimsy at best. An election with an obviously tainted Voters’ List is tantamount to rigging. That the PPP is rearing to go this route tells us the extent to which that party wants to get its hands back on the wheels of power. The CCJ should take every care not to get itself entangled in this ploy by ordering an election without a clean Voters’ List.
In the end, it comes down to which one of the two forces is better for Guyana in the short to medium term. Ideally, I would prefer a Government of National Unity that includes all the significant political forces. But the PPP is not interested in, and the Coalition is not enthusiastic about such a government. So, the reality is that we are faced with choosing one or the other. Both sides have strong negatives, some of which they share.
Given the goodwill it enjoyed when it first came to power, some of us hoped that the current Coalition government would have given a better account of itself. The disappointment is shared by a critical mass of supporters who showed their displeasure by staying away from the recent Local Government elections.
At the individual level, I have been a constant critic of the government, for which I was punished by some of the leaders. The party to which I belong, the WPA, was purposely sidelined within the Coalition. Under normal circumstances, that would be enough to break ranks. But these are not normal times.
I still consider myself a revolutionary—that has been my political upbringing and identity. History has shown that revolutionaries are often required to make tough decisions—it is never about clear-cut choices. Those of us who struggled for revolutionary change during the moment of revolutionary possibilities have to keep adjusting to the ever-changing political landscape If we decide to remain active in the political arena.
This is not a revolutionary moment in Guyana and the Caribbean, and you can’t make revolutions out of nothing. Some observers derided the WPA for joining a partnership with our archenemy, the PNC—it caused lots of friction within our family. The truth is that revolutionary parties around the world have had to make similar adjustments.
So, after very careful consideration, I have decided to endorse the Coalition for the upcoming election and would be campaigning for its return to office. Some of the issues which I feel strongly about— poverty alleviation, ethnic equality, education reform, constitutional reform, village renewal, gender equality, decriminalisation of the state, democratic governance and living wages for the poor—would stand a better chance with the Coalition in office.
Despite the less than sterling intra-coalition management of APNU+AFC, I still feel a Coalition Government provides more opportunities for change than a one-party government still wedded to the notion of ethno-racial domination. My support for the government’s re-election is not an abandonment of my role as self-critic and watchdog of government. But as I told a WPA community meeting in Buxton on Thursday night, there is a time and place for everything. Now is the time to rally the country around the Coalition as the better choice going forward. I, therefore, intend to help the Coalition, through the WPA, which has identified a role for itself.
It is our view that there is a critical mass of voters who are despondent with the Coalition’s performance and are threatening to stay away from the polls. WPA intends to reason with those voters in intimate groundings where we hope to hear voters’ concerns and impart the necessary voter education and consciousness. The Buxton meeting was the first of a series of community meetings or groundings planned by the WPA in the coming weeks to begin this process. We intend to visit as many communities as our limited resources permit.
Our campaign is a supplement to the larger Coalition campaign. Contrary to the view some myopic observers, there is still a segment of the electorate that welcomes the deep reasoning and grounding which is part of WPA’s praxis. As one man at the Buxton meeting said, after listening to us, he has been won back as a Coalition voter. That is part of what WPA sets out to do—win back the disaffected Coalition voter, even as we uplift the faithful.
I noticed the PPP’s Peeping Tom (Kaieteur News, July 6, 2019) has referred to me and the WPA as “Paper Tiger.” There are two things I would say to the PPP. First, you have every right to fear the WPA’s presence, for we stand between you and the voters you intend to fool. Second, it is better to be a Paper Tiger than to do nothing. The PPP prefers the WPA to be silent and do nothing. We will not!
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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