The title of this column is borrowed aptly from the title of an editorial in yesterday’s edition of the Kaieteur News. It is a statement about the abandonment of leadership in Guyana.
During the peace negotiations in South Africa in 1993, some of the extremist supporters of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress were becoming impatient. They were not interested in what he had to say about peace.
During a rally, a note was left on the podium telling Mandela a rejection of peace. Mandela immediately set aside his prepared speech and began to talk about the responsibility for ensuring peace. The extremists, upon hearing this began to object.
But Mandela was not deterred. He turned to them and said, “I am your leader. As long as I am your leader, I am going to give leadership… As long as I am your leader, I will tell you when you are wrong.”
On Wednesday, supporters of the APNU+AFC gathered outside of State House after the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice. The gathering appeared to be pre-planned and a dress rehearsal. They began to chant for “Granger, Granger”.
When the President appeared, some in the crowd murmured, “Tell we what we want to hear”. Granger, to his credit began by telling them that the CCJ decision was not one the Coalition wanted to hear.”
But he did not go the extra step and do what should have been done. He should have told them that it was not likely that the Coalition would be returned to office and that they should begin to prepare for the next elections.
That was not the message that they would have wanted to hear. But it is the message which a leader, worth his salt, should have delivered.
It makes no sense trying to give your supporters false hopes. Most of these supporters know that the Coalition lost the elections. But they have been led to believe that it is possible to get away with stealing the elections. But that is not going to be allowed to happen by both the international and local community. The vast majority of Guyanese know who won the elections and just want to see the rightful winner be declared so that the country can move forward from this gridlock in which it is faced.
The narratives which the APNU+AFC have been peddling get confusing with each passing day. First, they told their supporters that the APNU+AFC won the elections. Then when it was agreed for a recount, they claimed that the recount would confirm their victory and the results on their statements of poll which they continue to secrete. Then during the recount, they began to make wild and unsubstantiated allegations, claiming that dead and migrated persons voted. A steady flow of persons whom they said were dead or had migrated began appearing disputing the allegations.
When it was clear that the only fraud which was committed during the elections was the Bingo numbers, the narrative switched to the claim that the elections were not credible because of irregularities. Yet the same APNU+AFC decided to accept a concocted victory from this discredited elections.
There are extremists who are now wickedly peddling the line that the elections have been the most divisive in the country’s history. This is far from true. The elections have been no more divisive than other elections.
One leader within the Working People’s Alliance, is attempting to turn an election crisis into an ethnic crisis. This person wants the ballot boxes to be set aside and power sharing to be introduced. This is another way of saying that he only wants his side to win. But he should know that there is no way that either of the two main political parties could have received the votes they received without non-traditional support.
There is no ethnic conflict at the moment. What there is, is an attempt to manufacture such a crisis.
What is happening in Guyana is a blatant and an unadulterated attempt at electoral banditry. And intelligent people are being politically immoral in parroting falsehoods in order to facilitate this banditry.
Where there is electoral banditry, democracy turns into dictatorship. And when there is no leadership in government mob rules takes root.
Leaders have a responsibility in such circumstances to ensure that their supporters are told the truth. They have a duty to tell them when they are wrong. But what happens when the leaders are themselves leading their supporters down a blind alley?
(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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