Jan 03, 2021 Letters
The year 2020 is now behind us. It will be remembered by me, as one of the most challenging, agonising, exciting and in the end, rewarding and gratifying years of my life. Throughout it all, I never lost hope. I held tenaciously to the belief that, in the end, the will of the people would prevail and democracy, the rule of law and constitutionalism will be victorious. I was eventually vindicated.
2020 put our people on trial, my country on trial, democracy on trial, the rule of law on trial and to some extent, me on trial. The result was as gratifying as the sacrifices and challenges enduring. I learnt greatly and matured immeasurably from the experience garnered. Upon reflection, I am grateful for the platform, which the challenges presented. It allowed me and thousands of Guyanese, not only in Guyana but in the Caribbean and the diaspora, to show our true colours. Patriotism, nationalism, and their lack thereof, were scintillatingly showcased.
A few days before the year started, former President David Granger buckled under immense pressure, after one year of unrelenting political struggle, indefatigable social agitation, unwavering diplomatic pressure and a series of adverse judicial pronouncements, and named March 2, 2020, as the date for regional and general elections. So when 2020 dawned, with swords drawn, the political gladiators were ready for the electoral amphitheater. Someone predicted that it would be the “mother” of all elections. Few realised how prophetic that adjectival label was. Subsequent events proved its truism, without doubt.
After a grueling one-year battle with the APNU+AFC Government for the former President to fix the date for elections, we were faced with another monster. Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) then assumed the baton in the relay of frustrating and obstructing the holding of free and fair elections. They tried at every opportunity available, to corrupt the electoral machinery. They attempted to pervert the statutory process of claims and objections by unlawfully extracting from the National List of Registrants, thousands of qualified electors. We were forced to resort to litigation. We were vindicated by the Judiciary, repeatedly. When this battle was eventually won, another perversity was attempted, that is, to deny PPP strongholds adequate polling places. This battle waged its way to a mere two days before E-Day. A compromise was finally struck. Makeshift tents were finally consented to be erected in these areas, exposing voters, queued up in long lines, to the harsh elements, simply to exercise their constitutional franchise. However, the electorate was closely following the struggle and were conscious of the poor performance of the Government. On E-Day, they rose to the occasion and expressed their wrath against violations of the rule of law, constitutional transgressions, mismanagement of the economy, draconian tax policies, corrupt and incompetent governance, discrimination, joblessness, economic stagnation and everything else which characterised government under the Coalition. They voted solidly against APNU+AFC.
The next five months that ensued marked, perhaps, the most intense and intensified agitation to protect democracy witnessed in the western hemisphere in living memory. It galvanised, on the one side, all the opposition parties and their supporters, by far exceeding a majority of the Guyanese population, both in and out of Guyana, all the diplomatic missions, every major international organization in the Caribbean and the Americas and one hundred governments across the globe, against APNU+AFC, a small gang of its marauding supporters, both locally and in the diaspora, along with their conspiratorial kingpins at GECOM and a picayune few scattered across the State’s apparatus.
From the inception, it was a mismatched battle, which the latter could never have won. Their lack of foresight in recognizing this from the beginning and their plunging ahead in their fraudulent pursuits to pervert the results of the elections, have damaged their credibility forever. Theirs was an objective to steal government by the most unsophisticated and vulgar methodologies, causing a former Jamaican Prime Minister to remark that he has “never witnessed a more transparent attempt to alter the results of an election”. To compound and exacerbate the atrocities, they resorted to the Judiciary, the abode of the rule of law, to aid and abet them to violate the very rule of law! A most antithetical strategy, indeed. Predictably, it backfired. My belief that the Law would never aid one who desecrates at its majestic altar, was vindicated. It was the Judiciary that finally crushed their pursuits and malevolent ambitions. Lawyers who prostituted their noble profession were left dishonoured in the eyes of the dispassionate. The true results of the election were finally declared by the Chairwoman of GECOM and Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, lawfully sworn in as the President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana on August 2, 2020, bringing the curtains down on a historic struggle for democracy that brought global scrutiny to Guyana.
In its aftermath, this unprecedented ordeal has produced great many heroes. Many of whom are unsung. Hopefully, sooner than later, this epoch will be analysed and properly documented for posterity and the contributions of so many recognised and put into perspective.
To coincide with this mammoth political struggle, COVID-19 was unleashed upon the world during that embattled month of March 2020. It is by far the worse global pandemic to visit the humankind in modern history. It has killed 164 in Guyana and nearly two million worldwide. 2020 concluded with the approval of new vaccines for and the discovery of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus. The year 2020 has concluded with PPP/Civic well entrenched in government. The government was able to pass a budget in record time, by September month end, and by the end of December, Guyana is already a transformed country.
Within four short months, the Government has tackled GECOM head on. Twenty-six criminal charges instituted against the Chief Elections Officer and his clique. Raging corruption scandals, across central Government, have been exposed, sycophant appointments terminated, draconian taxes and license fees reversed, witch-hunting units like SARA dismantled, unscrupulous land rents and drainage and irrigation charges reduced, thousands of sugar workers returned to jobs, the economy rejuvenated, a people imbued with renewed hope, a series of COVID relief measures implemented, uniform vouchers and cash grant restored to our students, investors flocking our door steps, petroleum drilling expanded, huge capital projects embarked upon, airport project contract reviewed and I can continue but space will not permit.
Lastly, the conclusion of 2020 has seen a Guyanese population rejuvenated, a people with renewed hope and a country reinvigorated with energy and aspiration to accelerate national transformation into 2021 and well beyond. What a year: goodbye 2020! Best wishes for 2021!
Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC
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