The PPP under the presidential candidacy of Donald Ramotar won 32 seats in the 2011 elections as against 33 seats for the combined APNU and AFC. The PPP won the largest number of votes so under the constitution it secured the presidency.
The APNU and AFC used its one set advantage to cut the 2012 budget. One of the areas cut was the state media. Both opposition parties did not approve of the line item of funds for the state media which included the Chronicle and NCN.
The reason of APNU and AFC for denying budgetary allocation to the state media was clearer than even the sunniest day in a tropical country – the PPP government was using the state media, a state funded entity as a propaganda weapon. The argument went on that the state media should be opened up to opposition views.
The AFC in 2012 spread out in Berbice to explain the lines in the budget that were cut. At one of those meetings up the East Coast, the Speakers were Khemraj Ramjattan, Chris Ram, Gerhard Ramsaroop and I. At one of those meetings, Chris Ram while on the platform, lost his voice and had to be replaced. I suspect why there was a predominant number of East Indian speakers was because the AFC needed to explain to its supporters why it chopped many parts of the 2012 budget.
So back then, in 2012, 2013, and 2014, the Chronicle was the hunted in a game of 32 versus 33. The PPP had 32 seats and its yearly budget was subjected to line chops but the Chronicle in reality was in the hands of the owners of 32 because the owners of 32 formed the government. Enter 2016. The 32 versus 33 continues but we can put it in reverse mode. In 2011, it was 32 versus 33. Because the owners of 33 was putting inexorable pressure on the owners of 32 to free up the state media.
In 2015, it is the same 32 versus 33 but we can refer to the Chronicle in the operation room as point 3 percent. The point 3 percent represents the margin of victory of the owners of 33 at it stands right now. Chronicle is not longer the hunted. But its use as a propaganda weapon continues. It would be interesting to see how the AFC explain to its supporters (assuming g it still has supporters) how different is the state media in 2011 when the 32 controlled the government and the 33 pursued it relentlessly to free up the state media.
So the Chronicle of point 3 percent operates as in 2011 when a minority of 32 in parliament still controlled and used the state media as if it owned it. The point 3 percent controls the state media since 2015 as if it owns it. But there is a big difference from 2011. That point 3 percent has allowed for the 32 versus 33 to continue. So the owners of 32 cannot cut the budgetary allocation to the state media for a commonsensical reason – 33 is larger than 32.
Let’s discuss the Chronicle at point 3 percent. If a political formation wins a national election by point 3 percent, then in my inflexible opinion it cannot have a total mandate. The emphasis is on the noun, “mandate.” How then can the Chronicle at point 3 percent continue as in 2011 when the minority owners of 32 used and abused the state media?
I will repeat it and never stop once the APNU+AFC remains in office – what mandate the political owners of government had in a situation where they won the election by point 3 percent and arrogated to themselves the authority to remove Lincoln Lewis and David Hinds as columnists with the Chronicle?
My contestation is that point 3 percent did not give them the mandate to do so. There should have been consultations with the other half, meaning those sections of Guyana that lost the election by point 3 percent. I think I have confused readers enough with all this jazz of 32 versus 33 and 33 versus 32 and point 3 percent.
Here is my point. I do not see the state media as being any different from the bad old days when the PPP ruled this country. In those days, private party gatherings made the headlines in the Chronicle and NCN. The identical thing is happening here. So when my friends in the new parties will get front page coverage from the point 3 percent Chronicle? I want to know that because I am voting for one of them.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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