Mar 02, 2021 Letters
Attention is turned to two recent incidents in the National Assembly, involving Ministers Oneidge Walrond and Hugh Todd. Their reckless statements would not only be recorded in the Hansard for posterity and seen by future generations as truth, but also by less critical thinkers if not challenged.
It is instructive to observe the Minister shamelessly, and apparently without an ounce of decency, allowed the stifling of her conscience and morality to make declarations covering up and excusing the Irfaan Ali regime attacks on African labour. Without an ounce of evidence, she was allowed to defend the government’s discriminatory policy and justify the termination of these workers because they were considered “obstructive,” which went unchallenged by the Opposition.
This is a person whose profession would allow her to review, ponder and seek evidence before making such a charge but she was apparently prepared to put these sacred tenets under her feet to please her political bosses. Parliamentary immunity does not permit this level of dishonesty, yet it is being allowed free rein in the name of partisanship and promoting a politics of lies, hate and division. Minister Walrond is the newest purveyor.
Then, there is Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd. I would like to think he is fully aware that race is a matter of grave import as enshrined and factored by international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), International Labour Organization, World Bank etc., yet he is telling Guyanese conversation on race is “divisive,” hence should not be addressed. He cannot be serious neither is he that naïve unless this is another strategy to subvert honest discussion on race in order to prevent meaningful attention to issues that affect groups.
Even as efforts are being made to foist the deceptions on society, the UN has in place a programme to address racial problems by upholding human rights and the need for affirmative actions to redress historical discrimination. Presently we are in the UN ‘International Decade for People of African Descent’ (2015-2024) that aims “to emphasize the important contribution made by people of African descent to every society, and promote concrete measures to stop discrimination and promote their full inclusion.” Is the minister sending a signal to Guyanese, the UN, et al, that the regime will not be addressing these issues because race is divisive? I hope not.
It is a fact, that since the PPP came to office their actions have led to heightened racial tension. It is a fact, African Guyanese have been disproportionately targeted for termination in the public sector and their reputation assaulted without evidence under the Ali/Jagdeo regime. It is a fact that African workers have been harassed by the police and their fundamental rights denied.
It is fact the Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton (another African), is now threatening to go after defunct co-operative societies to close them rather than help to launch an investigation into the reason(s) for their non-functioning. Any caring government, recognizing this sector has been the major pillar of African empowerment, would seek to render assistance to resuscitate not close them. This is an effort, once again, to go after black capital. The co-ops are worth more than three billion dollars in savings, which are in the commercial banks. Money accumulated belongs to the co-op members and their heirs.
It is fact the PPP government broke up the bauxite workers’ pension plan, which was worth in excess of $2.5 billion, even as they simultaneously injected money to save the sugar workers’ pension plan. The co-op is presently the single largest pool of money owned by the African group.
It is a fact the government is going after black businesses. Morse Archer, the owner of Cevons Waste Management, is presently being harassed to remove from land he legitimately acquired from the state under the deception that the land is owned by one department of the state, which did not sell it to him. All state lands are ultimately owned by the state regardless of which agency they are assigned to and only the state can legitimately sell them.
For the peace, tranquility, and wellbeing of Guyana, it is important for us to recognize that the wellbeing and security of African welfare must not be undermined and destroyed. One cannot help but note the exacerbated concerns of racial attacks, intolerance and marginalization that have become customary under successive PPP regimes and in contemporary times most significant under the Bharrat Jagdeo leadership and influence.
A country that continues to ignore and support systemic transgression against any section of its society, and treating another section as privileged, will subsequently find itself challenged to contain the absurdities of the privileged.
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