The five-month election ordeal is over. Inside those five months, were some of the most bizarre moments of human failing, human hypocrisy, human idiocy hardly seen in modern politics since the 19th century.
The comedic dimensions are not that important as the dangerous aspects. Within those five months, Clairmont Mingo and Keith Lowenfield twisted and corrugated laws and morality that should have appalled all decent humans yet there were people who in the name of Walter Rodney saw what unelected power can do and embraced Mingo and Lowenfield.
It was an unelected government without an electoral mandate, that didn’t give Rodney, a teaching job at UG. An elected government could have done the same vindictive act too but that could have cost it power. The electorate could have said to itself that such a brilliant son of the soil, such a globally known academic that has put Guyana on the map, should not be treated that way. This anger could have made a difference in a country where people have a right to vote.
Rodney was a pan-Africanist but that didn’t deter him from attempting to change the government of Forbes Burnham. Rodney understood the nature of the post-colonial state. It is interesting to note that one of Rodney’s closest comrades, Clive Thomas, wrote a book titled: “The Rise of the Authoritarian State in Peripheral Societies.” It was that kind of state Rodney was fighting against in the reign of Burnham.
He understood that the ethnic make-up of the PNC government was of lesser importance than the inherent freedoms that lie in democratic governance. This put in on a confrontation path with Burnham. If Rodney was essentially driven by the zero sum competition for ethnic domination in Guyana then as a conscious Blackman he would not have opposed Burnham. But Rodney was more concerned with class politics. He accepted that race had to take secondary place to class structure. It is within this ideological prism, he fought against Burnham.
Rodney understood that permanent autocratic rule breeds dictatorship. This is where the struggle against Burnham in the seventies mirrors what happened on March, 2020 with the Mingo/Lownfield election fraud.
To comprehend the path Guyana was heading towards if the March rigged election was accepted by Guyana and the world, it is important to quote Clive Thomas and in doing so we will see the political bankruptcy of people like Thomas himself, Rupert Roopnaraine, Eusi Kwayana, the remnants of the WPA and their middle class supporters like Dr. Alissa Trotz, Karen de Souza, etc.
I am quoting Thomas to underscore the importance of free and fair election. In the book, “Walter Rodney: A Promise of Revolution,” edited by Clairmont Chung, here is what Thomas noted about the PPP government; “…state degeneration in many ways is more brutal than what existed in the PNC regime…the Burnham regime was very brutal … it was the epitome of darkness but now, in retrospect, few of us would still maintain that position, given the current situation.”
From pages 101 to 103, Thomas describes how far more violent and dangerous was the Jagdeo presidency than Burnham’s autocracy. I knew and understood what Thomas described in that book. No one was more repressed by that system in that period than me. I almost lost my life twice. My poor, innocent wife was turned into a victim too.
Thomas made those observations in 2010. In 2015, that authoritarian system was removed by free and fair election; in 2011 then, in 2015. Free and fair elections made Roopnaraine into a Cabinet Minister. Thomas became the anti-corruption star of the APNU+AFC administration and he employed two WPA leaders to work with him. Other WPA leaders like Drs. Maurice Odle, David Hinds, Wazir Mohamed secured top jobs with the state.
The WPA eventually acquired state power not through revolution but free and fair election. These very people caricatured Rodney when they supported the fraud of Mingo and Lowenfield. I had a choice – invoke what the PPP government did to me that Thomas so vividly described in Chung’s book and, like Thomas and Roopnaraine and the WPA bigots, endorse rigged elections to keep the PPP out. Or save my country from fraudulent elections to prevent the permanency of Burnhamism that Rodney gave his life to prevent.
Those, like Thomas and so many others, particularly Desmond Trotman, in supporting the fraud perpetrated upon this nation in March 2020 have literally betrayed Rodney and have spat on his grave. What would have happened if there was no free and fair poll in March 2020 was simply the return to a system that people like Thomas and Roopnaraine themselves fought against. How could they have deteriorated so badly?
(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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