One of my wife’s favourite Guyanese is Adrian Benjamin who owns a top class bakery and bakery retail outlet on Church of God Road in Buxton. Her mother knew Adrian when he was a teenager employed at a bakery in Wortmanville.
We have kept close to Adrian over the decades. I wrote in one of my columns that Adrian makes a “wicked” cheese flap. I would urge you to try Adrian’s cheese flap. I took my wife to Buxton to visit Adrian, and while we were driving on Church of God Road, some youth braced upon the side of a car were openly taking their sniff. They were not in secretive mode. The smell of ganja was in the air.
All of the youth I saw looked between the age of 18 and 30. All were Africans. If the police had stopped them, then they would have been legally (but I believe wrongfully) charged. I repeat; “wrongfully charged.”
Legal limit of possession in Jamaica is 40 grams. In December last year, Trinidad amended its law to make it 30 grams. In Guyana, one gram is illegal.
The statistics shows that about 95 percent of persons convicted for possession of ganja are between that age group and are African Guyanese.
I cite this example in an ongoing polemic I have with my good friend, David Hinds. David continues to adumbrate a perspective where the polemic centers on the governance of APNU+AFC being superior to the PPP because it is a government of a coalition of parties and not one party rule as with the PPP. He continues with that theory elaborating on it in his column yesterday in direct response to me.
How is the marijuana example above relevant to my reply to David? Below I will demonstrate its relevance as my argument develops. I wrote last week that I find David’s paradigm that the government by being a coalition of different parties means that there is power-sharing and policy-sharing completely implausible.
In office politics and street politics, there are different parties in government. In terms of practical politics, realpolitik, style of governance, and economic policy-making and most of all, political culture, I will not accept that the nature of the regime in Guyana consists of different parties with different policy outputs.
It doesn’t matter which textbook or which professor you consult, coalition government has a one-dimensional definition. A description is in order. A
number of parliamentary parties join to form the government with each wanting that government to pursue and implement policies that are (1) in sync with its core ideological conceptualisations (2), bring about certain changes in the country that were the original reason for wanting to team up with others to have power (3) have the government implement an agenda that would consolidate the standing of the party with an eye to future elections (4) maximise benefits that its constituencies need and demand.
Of the two parties in the coalition with the PNC – AFC and WPA- I have failed to see where the AFC and WPA have introduced their agendas and when these agendas were implemented.
I now return to the marijuana issue. In the campaign of 2015, both APNU and AFC promised amendments to the drug law. In 2020, one of the country’s most erudite lawyers, Nigel Hughes, composed the amendments. The Bill was put on the order paper of the House to be read in the name of AFC’s parliamentarian, Michael Carrington.
The Bill never saw the light of day. Carrington told the press that the PNC section of the APNU+AFC regime does not want the Bill. Carrington went on to add that Chief Whip, Amna Ally, requested him not to go ahead with the legislation.
My understanding of coalition politics is that it is a game of give and take. Parties have to concede to each other and that becomes the game, which they will play until the next election.
The results of two Israeli successive elections show that each party is not prepared to form a government with others because agenda acceptance is the crucial reason.
What I would suggest to David is to stop repeating that APNU+AFC is a coalition of independent parties and outline for me the government’s acceptance and implementation of the WPA’s agenda.
In simple language, if as David believes the WPA has active support in Guyana, then he needs to do two things and to do so urgently. Firstly, to outline where core values of the WPA were accepted by APNU+AFC since 2015 and show Guyanese the results by enumeration. Secondly, what is the WPA’s agenda given to the APNU+AFC leadership if it wins in 2020?
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