In my August 23 column, captioned: “APNU+AFC: Complex and not so complex reasons for the untergang,” I indicated that over the coming weeks and months, I will look at the factors, some small, some big, in the APNU+AFC’s loss of power in the 2020 election.
I did write that there were variables specific to the PNC and AFC that contributed to the fall. Here now is the first in that series, though as stated in my August 23 piece, the series will not be consecutive. This article looks at aspects of the WPA’s politics that affected the number of votes APNU got in March.
In the Tuesday edition of the Stabroek News, there is a cartoon with a group of PNC, AFC and WPA politicians with the title, “They did their best to steal the 2020 elections.” Under each politician, there is a characterization. Under Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine are the words, “no dignity.” Under Granger is the appellation, no honour.”
One of the factors I have advanced for the defeat of the PNC in 2020 is that whereas Indians and the Indigenous folks flooded the polling stations, Africans did not. Georgetown saw no deluge, meaning that the turnout among African Guyanese was not torrential. Both the personality of Granger and the betrayal of Walter Rodney by the WPA led to alienation of sections of African Guyanese.
We start with the WPA. Space will not allow for an interpretation of how Granger’s political behaviour frustrated African Guyanese. This will have to wait for another column. There is no question that in 2011, the PNC regained the five seats it had lost in 2006 because the PNC had appeared as a transformed entity with the WPA as a partner, renamed APNU.
The expectations of African Guyanese were that the WPA would be the guiding hand behind the APNU’s policy-making decisions because of its intellectual tradition and Rodneyite ontology. But those expectations soon turned to anger then alienation. Guyana is full of ironies that unfold with each passing day. Two of the most barefaced apologists for the PNC rigging the 2020 election using racist and violent demagoguery were Tacuma Ogunseye and Dr. David Hinds, yet it was these two men from 2016 onwards that began to expose the WPA’s twisted approach to the exercise of state power.
It first started with an exposing letter in the press by Ogunseye who accused Dr. Roopnaraine of the politics of betrayal. Ogunseye informed Guyanese that Dr. Roopnaraine told the WPA’s executive committee that he cannot discuss government policies and state business with party comrades. Then a three-person WPA delegation went to see Dr. Roopnaraine at his office at the Ministry of Education. The delegation consisted of Dr. Alissa Trotz, Dr. Hinds and Keith Branche.
Dr. Roopnaraine repeated to them his position that as a Cabinet minister he will not discuss state business with the WPA. Branche and I had lunch at Tastee Dish restaurant on David Street, Kitty and he told me he was finished with Dr. Roopnaraine. I cannot repeat Branche’s fulminations because he could very well deny them and sue for libel.
The same Branche found time to publicly criticize the politics of Simona Broomes over a car park incident. The same Dr. Trotz found time to publicly criticize a remark Clement Rohee made during the 2020 election campaign. But morbid incestuous politics prevent Branche and Dr. Trotz from offering their interpretation of the degeneracy of WPA’s politics.
Dr. Hinds had awakened African Guyanese to the WPA’s betrayal of Walter Rodney now that the WPA was in power. He told a WPA press conference that after the APNU won the 2020 election, the PNC did not ask the WPA to name its minister. The PNC selected Dr. Roopnaraine. At the same press conference, Dr. Hinds told the nation that when Dr. Roopnaraine resigned as Education Minister then rescinded it, he (Dr. Roopnaraine) did not inform the WPA. Dr. Roopnaraine voted in parliament with the PNC and AFC not to release the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry Report.
It wasn’t only Dr. Roopnaraine that African Guyanese felt had betrayed Walter Rodney now that he was a minister but so they felt the same about other WPA leaders. Clive Thomas as head of SARA refused to disclose information about SARA findings the public was entitled to (see my two columns – Saturday, August 31, 2019, “Clive Thomas irresponsibly accuses me of irresponsibility,” and Tuesday, February 19, 2018, “Clive Thomas: Transformation into dependency.”)
Dr. Maurice Odle became chairman of NICIL and operated NICIL exactly the way it was shaped under the PPP government. Desmond Trotman became a pro PNC GECOM commissioner. By the time 2020 had come, African Guyanese who loved Walter Rodney could no longer have voted for APNU.
(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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