Two of the funniest moments in Guyanese political history are the ontological shape of the WPA and AFC. The WPA’s whole name is the Working Peoples’ Alliance. Up to this day, I don’t know which types of working class formations made up the alliance.
The WPA was essentially a middle class party with serious elitist personalities. I say without fear of contradiction, I don’t think any party purporting to organise on behalf of the masses ever had among its leadership such conspicuous elitists.
The name of the AFC is Alliance For Change. Which of the different strata in Guyana’s class structure were aligned with each other in the AFC? The only difference in the middle class ontology of the WPA and the AFC was that the AFC attempted to establish itself as a mass based party.
The WPA was not interested in that direction. Having failed to become a mass party, the AFC was content to remain as a small middle class outfit.
The AFC celebrated 14 years of existence two Fridays ago. It has been 14 years of essential middle class opportunism. The AFC has electorally collapsed. If the PNC has even an ounce of intellectual fiber, it would kick the AFC into the deep muddy waters of the Atlantic. The AFC cannot bring electoral value to the PNC. Its era has passed.
What follows are the first set of notes on this party’s history. I am planning a five-part series for both PNC and PPP. Only three parts for the AFC will be composed. The AFC was born out of a plea by Raphael Trotman to his mulatto middle class Georgetown friends to help him form a political party because he, Trotman, could no longer stay in the PNC under Desmond Hoyte’s leadership.
The history of Trotman’s politics in the PNC is a dimension of this essay that will have to be omitted. Any reference to what his activism was like in the PNC would immediately bring a libel writ from Trotman.
I have contacted my legal friends who have advised me on how to word the following lines. They told me they are not libelous. So here are the lines. Raphael Trotman is someone whose career incorporates many of the features of Hamilton Green’s approach, style and methodology during the Burnham epoch. I will leave it at that.
The idea of the AFC was Trotman’s. He toyed with the thought after his constant battles with Desmond Hoyte resulted in failure. David Granger was one of the persons who he contacted.
During the 2016 local government election, at a public meeting in Bartica, he alluded to what he and Granger talked about at the Nassau airport in the Bahamas in relation to a new political party.
The idea came true with the 2015 victory. To date, no journalist has asked Trotman or Granger about the Nassau discussion.
It was Sheila Holder who moved in the same Georgetown mulatto circle with Trotman, suggested that Khemraj Ramjattan be brought on board. There was resistance to this idea from the clique of Georgetown elites because they didn’t consider Ramjattan culturally appropriate to join the AFC. He was dark-skinned, a practising Hindu, and lacked that obvious middle class motifs.
The disagreement about forming the AFC with Ramjattan as co-leader was tempestuous. The Georgetown socialites opposed Ramjattan’s inclusion because they wanted a party that approximated to what the League of Coloured People was like.
The Georgetown elites weren’t interested in Indian membership and Indian votes. It was this mentality at work when after the 2015 victory, two AFC leaders called a certain lady and offered her the ‘Ministry of the Environment’.
When Trotman reneged on the presidential candidacy going to Ramjattan for the 2011 election, a huge fight broke out between the two men from which the ashes are still emitting flames.
To defeat Trotman for the presidential slot for 2011, Ramjattan enlisted his Indian business friends in and out of Guyana who in turn enlisted ROAR supporters who were disenchanted with the PPP.
The only ROAR bigwig that didn’t gravitate to the AFC under Ramjattan’s leadership in 2010 was the ROAR leader himself, Ravi Dev.
The attack on Trotman, led by Dr. Somar in the diaspora was volcanic. There is a rich stockpile of emails in 2010 from the ROAR outfit that is in the possession of Ramjattan and which this columnist has seen.
It explains the perennial strained relation between the two men. The emails are indispensible to the writing of a history of the AFC. Ramjattan became presidential candidate in 2011, Indian money funded the campaign, the mulatto clique pulled out, and Trotman hibernated.
Sheila Holder died and things took a different shape. Part 2 takes up from 2011.
(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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