There are times you can forgive rulers for their obdurate refusal in not wanting to learn from history because of the nature of their professional training. Surely, an accountant would not have gone through the journeys as a trained historian did.
So when that accountant becomes head of government and remains ignorant of the lessons of the past, your judgment will not be as harsh as with a sociologist or historian or journalist or political theorist.
David Granger was trained in history and has written books on aspects of Guyanese history. He should be equipped intellectually to understand the pitfalls of the past that a ruler should and must avoid.
At the launching of his party’s 2020 election rally, he used the word “nonsense” to describe the existence of the clause of the no-confidence motion (NCM) in the constitution, and promised the nation to remove it. People never learn from history, but look of all people who turn their backs on the guidelines history offer – a ruler schooled in history. Nothing personal, but my opinion is that David Granger is not intellectually finessed.
Let us use Bharrat Jagdeo as the most graphic example where deliberate ignorance of history comes back to kick you in your thick head. As president, Jagdeo conspired with Opposition Leader, Robert Corbin to pass legislation to (1) – stop MPs from crossing the floor and (2), allow the leader of the list to recall a recalcitrant MP. Corbin wanted to banish a maverick PNC MP, James McAllister.
In 2018, if Jagdeo had not done such an undemocratic thing the APNU+AFC government would have fallen, and there would have been no need for the “crossing the floor MP” to secretly leave Guyana for safety reasons.
At least four ruling MPs would have crossed the floor in 2018 and made the APNU+AFC a minority government. Since they would have moved in a group, the resulting public relations umbrella would have reduced any fear of physical harm. Jagdeo and Corbin passed that legislation out of personalized power needs.
Enter 2014. To avoid an NCM introduced by the AFC, which Opposition Leader David Granger was willing to support to topple the Ramotar presidency, Ramotar prorogued the House. Granger and the PNC allocated the first Tuesday in every month to picket the presidential complex, calling for the House to be in session. Once Parliament had resumed its statutory meetings, the PPP government would have fallen to an NCM.
The NCM never happened because elections were called, but it was the PPP’s fear of an NCM and the authoritarian things the PPP did to avoid an NCM that led eventually to David Granger being president today. There was a percentage of voters (along with the ABC countries) that disapproved of the short-circuiting of parliament by Ramotar and voted against Ramotar, thus ushering in the presidency of Granger.
Granger, without paying homage to the NCM attempt in 2014 and with immense ingratitude to the NCM clause in the constitution that helped his cause in the picket line outside the presidential complex in 2014, promises the abolition of the NCM clause.
He did look silly because he needs a two-thirds majority and given the priceless, democratic value of the NCM, Granger isn’t going to get it, because even if he wins, his margin will be far away from a two-thirds status in parliament.
Rulers are selfish people who use power for sick, opportunistic reasons. To keep Mark Benschop in jail forever, President Jagdeo passed legislation to allow the state to appeal a criminal acquittal before judge and jury. At the time, even the smallest child who grew up in the PPP believed the PPP would rule forever. If the PPP loses in March, that legislation may well be used to keep some PPP leaders in jail forever.
The lessons of history are incandescent – what you tamper with today will devour you tomorrow. Granger hates what occurred after the NCM and he is tying his conceptualization of the NCM to that. He is equating personalities with the NCM. The two are not in the remotest way connected. Granger is not concerned with the inherent, democratic value of the NCM, but with what it did to him. But 20 years down the line, the NCM can bring Granger’s successors to power just as it helped his cause in 2014.
My prediction is that there is going to be a minority government or a one-seat victory. The NCM then will become the most sought after thing after 2020. It may very well propel the PNC to victory long before 2025 if it loses the March elections. Granger ought to show more respect for history.
(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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