Great danger lies ahead! The rigging of elections is the first stage in the transition towards dictatorship and authoritarianism.
If you think the PPPC was bad, think again about what has happened over the past five years and how more worse the situation will get without any form of democratic restraints under an illegitimate APNU+AFC.
Those who lived through the dark days of dictatorship would not wish those days to return ever again to this country. The period was marked by widespread corruption, secret deals, administrative indolence, abuse of power, human rights violations, economic decline and human and capital flight.
Corruption was widespread. Since there was no way to hold the government accountable, public officials did what they wanted, amassed great wealth and got away with dipping their fingers into the ‘cookie jar’.
Corruption was endemic. There was no tendering for government projects. Contracts were simply dispensed at the whim of government officials, acting, no doubt, on higher instructions. In order to get things done, citizens learnt that they had to ‘grease’ the pockets of government officials.
Bribery was the order of the day. If you wanted a passport, a birth certificate or some other government service, you either had to be prepared for an interminable wait or pay a bribe. If you wanted a passport, you had to line up for hours and then wait more than a month before you can get one. But there was a fellow – he must be dead by now – who was nicknamed after a famous Jamaican reggae singer. He could get the passport the same day for a massive fee.
Nothing moved bureaucrats better than a bribe. The police were among the biggest bribe- takers. Ken Danns, in his book, “Domination and Power in Guyana” relates stories which he overheard about police officers demanding food items from members of the public.
There was another way to get things done. It was to have connections with someone who knew someone who could get the service which you required. Guyanese liked to refer to this as having ‘lines’. If you had ‘lines’, you did not have to join any line. But you might have still had to pay a bribe in cash or kind.
Secret deals were the order of the day. At one time, there was even an attempt to establish an off-shore tax haven company in Guyana. When it was discovered that one of the principals had a criminal record, the plan was shelved. Another time, there was a plan to import toxic waste in Guyana from California. When that too was exposed, the plan was hastily set aside.
All these happened because the government knew that it did not have to win the approval of the people. It could do as it pleased since its vote rigging would ensure that it was returned to power. This lack of political accountability is one of the gravest dangers of dictatorship.
Dictatorship results in abuse of power. In Guyana, the police would go to the markets and seize bread. They wouldn’t file any charges. They just confiscated the bread. Having a tin of sardines, then restricted, and passing through the airport could land you in serious trouble. The police and customs were laws unto themselves. If you were caught with contraband they could seize not only the contraband but the vehicle in which you were transporting it, without any charge or trial.
The government was paramount. Judges and magistrates came under tremendous political pressure to give judgments which were favourable to the State and the government.
Sexual harassment was widespread in the public service. One of the reasons why African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa (ASCRIA) broke with Burnham was because the sexual molestation of African women. This was brought out during testimony in the Rodney Commission of Inquiry.
Just after he came into office, Desmond Hoyte established a Commission to inquire into conduct in public office. The Commission found pervasive exploitation use of public office for sexual gratification.
Dictatorship exacerbated economic mismanagement. The economy went into reverse gear. Foreign exchange dried up leading to more import restrictions and the development of a larger underground economy. A huge foreign debt was accumulated. Production fell. All of this economic mismanagement occurred because of the lack of political accountability.
Guyana lost a lot more though. It lost its best minds. Pull factors would always ensure there is migration. The country lost more than its fair share of educated persons because of the state of the economy and the level of crime and fear in the society. And with that brain-drain was also capital flight. People took their savings, sold their properties and found a way to get the money out of Guyana.
Those who therefore feel that it is going to be fine to have a dictatorship should think again. If they think that things are bad enough now, they should wait and see what will happen if dictatorship returns.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Jul 05, 2020Executives and members of the Georgetown Softball Cricket League Incorporated (GSCL) express their grief at the sudden passing of a true cricket all-rounder Anil Persaud. At the time of his sudden...
The hot question at this moment is what type of attacks we will see on the Secretary-General (SG) of CARICOM, Mr. Irwin La... more
The government should not be selling any lands. It has long gone beyond being a caretaker administration and is merely in... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders There have been unhelpful and destructive attacks by leading members and zealous supporters of the... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]