Guyanese are known to be a hospitable people. But over the years, this spirit of hospitality, appears to be withering away inexorably. The hospitality spirit seems to have given way to an ‘All of Self and none of Thee’ syndrome.
Hospitality anywhere may be extended, but only for a period of time irrespective of the familial, professional or the cordiality in social relationships.
Economic and financial considerations are the principal determinants that bring to an end the spirit of hospitality.
However, there are times when this hospitable trait typical of Guyanese can be withheld, not physically but emotionally.
It occurs especially when suspicions are rife to the extent that Guyanese are made to believe citizenship is likely to be granted to persons who are prepared to reward their benefactors by having their names inserted in what becomes a bloated voters list, that has one singular objective, to boost the electoral fortunes of the incumbent.
In the circumstances, treaty obligations and solidarity become meaningless, especially when they bring no tangible benefits and are perceived to be a political weapon that will be used to perpetuate an objectionable form of governance and a regime that has become intolerable.
These conditions, give rise to conspiracy theories that impact not only those Guyanese who shun traditional hospitality, but many others who fall prey to the conspiracy theorists.
According to ‘deep throat’ sources, certain non- nationals will be loaned military uniforms and allowed to vote as members of the disciplined services.
This is a good example, which shows how citizenship can be weaponised by an administration that has a morbid fear of free and fair elections and as a consequence is prepared to use citizenship as a weapon to boost the number of votes to ensure its perpetuation in office.
The abundance of conspiracy theories, not withstanding, one particular view attracted my attention recently.
Ralph Ramkarran in his recent ‘Conversation Tree’ column put forward what could be considered the most plausible possibility thus far.
This is how he put it: ‘At the current estimated date of March, only two more months are needed for the government’s five-year anniversary, by which time all those seeking citizenship will probably have their applications granted.’
Implicit in Ramkarran’s theory is his take that time and space is critical for the APNU+AFC. That the Coalition needs time to make campaign space for themselves, and time to allow for the maturing of calendar dates for non-nationals to be qualified for citizenship and, by extension, the rite of passage to vote at what some have baptised the ‘Mother of all Elections.’
In essence, what this means is, if there is to be rigging, then it will be done with a modicum of sophistication that will make detection possible but a challenge highly improbable.
The APNU+ AFC must know they can buy time but not morality.
It has long been suspected that the Department of Citizenship under the Ministry of the Presidency has been engaged in shenanigans aimed operationalising what can be described as a ‘Citizenship for Votes’ operation.
In the circumstances, in order to appear clean and legal, this type of concocted citizenship can, or may have been facilitated via ‘Late Registration’ in collaboration with the GRO; Arranged marriages and CARICOM Free Movement of Skills Certificates to facilitate ‘Indefinite Stay’.
The fraudulent aspect can, or may have already been perpetrated by backdating any of the above referenced applications so as to make it appear that the said applications were duly processed according to law for the purpose of naturalization, thence to registration and if not already the case, during the announced extended claims and objections period.
Needless to say, each of the application processes mentioned earlier can be circumvented within the meaning of the Guyana Citizenship Act, Cap 14:01 Section 7 (2), which states inter alia: ‘The Minister shall not be required to assign any reason for the exercise of any discretionary power confirmed on him as to the registering as a citizen, the naturalizing or certifying the Citizenship of any person and no exercise of any such power shall be subject to appeal or review in any court.’
Clearly, this is not conspiratorial, it is objectively, a dangerous discretionary power the APNU +AFC has in its arsenal of weapons that we know of, and can be utilised at this point in time to reap a bountiful harvest of supposedly legal votes.
But as the plot thickens, the refusal by the previous Chairman of GECOM and, what appears to be the line of march of the current chairperson not to entertain any involvement of international elections experts at key and critical levels of the elections machinery is tantamount to a conspiracy between the government appointed members of the commission, the CEO and the coalition administration to thwart the will of the Guyanese electorate.
Ms. Singh has to make sure she does not become trapped in this conspiratorial vortex.
The situation is made no better since, with every passing day, public perception seem to be growing stronger to the effect that the GECOM chairperson appears to be tiptoeing around the laws of Guyana and the lawns of State House.
Guyanese who want to see a change of government have a right to ventilate their views on any move they consider suspicious or conspiratorial on the part of government especially when it comes to elections.
This brings us to the big question of trust.
There is no doubt that the APNU+AFC Coalition Administration has lost whatever the level of trust it reaped before May 2015 and during the honeymoon period immediately thereafter.
Leading members of the coalition have from time to time, either lied, covered-up or thrown dust in the eyes of the electorate.
From day one of the regime’s assumption to office, the nation was lied to justifying the humongous increases in salaries and allowances to the newly minted cabinet ministers. This was followed by the drug bond and the Durban Park fiascos, the unexplainable sole-sourcing of drugs for the GPHC and the more recent freeing of the crime chief of corruption charges a move that reeks of political interference from the highest level.
Those who defend the government by seeking to debunk the suspicions and legitimate concerns of others must recognize people generally view government with deep suspicions.
Distrust of government is not unique to Guyana. Witness developments in Hong Kong and the UK.
The APNU+ AFC interim administration is yet to learn that trust will not be gained from an already frustrated electorate who have grown tired of promises of a ‘good life’ and empty rhetoric about being ‘on the right path’.
So long as the interim administration continues with its shady and conspiratorial dealings, the electorate will grow restless and at some point in time, a crescendo of voices clamoring, ‘We the People’ will shake the foundations on which the interim administration now stands.
Clement J. Rohee
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