When people say that they are apolitical I just smile. They may not be actively involved, but they all have political sympathies.
Friday was Nomination Day, and I saw many who said that they support no political party suddenly become representatives of those parties. Some were first with one party then switched, sparking some ugly comments from the observers.
I still hear Freddie Kissoon asking me how it is that I can support the political party of my choice, when he himself has been known to support a number of political parties at one time or another.
I do not question a person’s political leaning. Each has a reason for doing so. Some do it to spite one party, while others do it for personal gain. But that is how life works. Nobody does anything for nothing, not even the people who feed the beggars and the homeless. The latter expect good things from the Creator.
My friend Harry Gill was once an ardent supporter of the late Winston Murray. I watched him campaign to have Murray become the leader of the People’s National Congress.
Harry could write music and sing. I heard the songs he wrote criticizing the People’s Progressive Party. I saw his political articles. Then he became of the same party he criticized. I do not know why and I surely don’t want to know. It is his right to support the party of his choice.
Tony Vieira, another friend, and former employer was another like Harry Gill. He founded The Evening News and authorized some blistering commentaries against that party.
Things became even more personal for him. That very party, while in Government, shut down his radio station, albeit an unregistered one. He moved to the courts and actually won the case, but by then he had neither radio station nor television station. He sold them both to supporters of the PPP.
When I met him he said that things were not going financially well for him, so he accepted an offer that he could not refuse. He sold his home and just about everything he had. He was a bitter man.
He became a representative of the People’s National Congress. He echoed the views of his family, that they were always supporters of Burnham and the PNC.
On Friday, I saw him moving to the PPP and I was happy for him, because he must have had a reason. The fact that City Hall is moving against a brother for outstanding taxes certainly could not have been the reason.
There are others like Vieira. The Prime Ministerial candidate would have had his reason. I do not believe that it had anything to do with his last days in the Guyana Defence Force.
Reports are that he sought an extension when it was time to retire but that wasn’t granted. I understand that the reason was because his successor had less than two hundred days to serve as Chief of Staff. The army did not want to deny that successor the right to attain the highest office in the army.
It is unfortunate that Brigadier Mark Phillips did not attain the rank of Major General. It may have been because the army did not have the strength to accommodate a Major General.
Did these things influence his decision to become an active member of the PPP? Perhaps. But then again, different things influence people’s decision.
For example, there is nothing in the constitution that dictates that a Prime Ministerial candidate must be named before the elections. Last week I noted that this began with the late Dr Cheddi Jagan and quickly took root.
I remember the then President Desmond Hoyte was asked about his successor and Prime Minister. Unhesitatingly, he said Winston Murray. We may never know if he was serious, because Murray died before the elections.
President David Granger was caught up in this thing about a running mate. He had earlier said that he would appoint his Prime Minister should he be returned to office. But the questions kept coming. Of course there was talk about the Cummingsburg Accord and the stipulation that the Alliance For Change would get the Prime Minister spot.
Moses Nagamootoo was already the Prime Minister, and no party had ever changed its leadership mid-stream. But the Accord said that Khemraj Ramjattan would be the Prime Minister. Granger acquiesced mere hours after he had announced that he would wait until after he was elected.
Now all eyes are on the voters’ list which has a whopping 660,000-plus names. Tomorrow, the Court of Appeal would rule on whether names could actually be removed from that list. The High Court had actually determined that no names could be removed unless there was hard evidence that a person had died. A padded voters’ list would do no good for the credibility of the elections.
Whatever the case, these would be as some say, the Mother of all Elections. Whoever wins would preside over Guyana’s oil wealth. I see the young voters out in force, and they are spread among the political parties. They would make an impact one way or the other. And they span the racial divide.
The campaign would begin in earnest. There is nothing to say that it would be a clean campaign devoid of race baiting. Indeed that has been a feature of previous elections, to the extent that the Guyana Elections Commission saw it fit to establish a media monitoring unit. There were rules drawn up for the conduct of the media. Those rules should still be in effect.
And at the end of the day there should be no violence. After all, Guyana is a small country that can ill-afford any setback to its development. And in any case, when the elections are over, the people simply return to their daily lives in the same way the water is calmed after a pebble is thrown into it.
(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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