Jul 25, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Over the past few months, Guyanese have been treated to glimpses of something that has serious implications for this country going forward – the disintegration of the People’s National Congress. The first indicator went relatively unnoticed, the resignation of party stalwart and Central Executive Committee (CEC), Basil Blackman, citing the absence of consultations in the party’s decision-making in October last year. Things reached to a crescendo recently however with the resignation of some bright, primarily younger members of the CEC, expanding on Blackman’s critique in their own exit notes, and strident pushback against his macabre theatre of introducing two paper parties into APNU with consultation from the PNC Executive (see ‘Granger defends move to unilaterally accept new parties into APNU’, on page three of today’s paper).
Certain ironies cannot be lost on the anti-Granger, dissident faction, the clearest of which is that the same non-consultative, dictatorial, and cognitively dissonant behaviour Granger engaged in as President, and in which they were all complicit, he is now subjecting them to as party leader. This includes of course the deliberate postponement of constitutionally due internal elections for a change of leadership. Betting men would not be faulted for placing good money on the odds that even when those long-awaited elections are inevitably held, they will be marked by more egregious and unapologetic rigging than what was attempted for national and regional elections last year. A more subtle, but telling, irony of course is that there is a marked fear by the dissidents when it comes to mounting a public challenge to the Brigadier-General’s leadership – while there has been a clear imperative to ensure that the hitherto silent swell of internal dissidence makes it into the larger public domain, there is an equally clear hesitance at public association with it, not unsurprising considering the machinery of slander and intimidation that faced those opposed to Granger’s failed bid to hold on to power last year, including, for example, the attacks leveled against the GECOM Chair.
For his part, the Granger is insistent on hiding from the public and the press and his constituents, as he has done for the past year, emerging only to speak to a single in-house interviewer, donning the tattered and unconvincing mask of a saintly monarch quietly doing God’s work from his hideout at Pearl, a baffled king composing Hallelujah, uncomprehending of the plots to betray and overthrow him.
One might be tempted to frame the supposedly befuddled former President in quixotic terms, except it would be a charmless, cowardly version of the classic Cervantes character, not so much tilting at windmills, but pretending not to see the real giants that are either departing his party in disgust at his “visionless”, “backward”, “dictatorial” leadership (former executives like Blackman, Brian Smith, Thandi McAllister, and Shawn Hopkinson) or those like Aubrey Norton, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles, and Party Chair, Volda Lawrence all of whom have either made clear that they supported a recent letter excoriating his leadership or that they were vehemently opposed to a second letter, signed by a handful of junior members only, supporting him.
Which brings us to Granger’s supposed second-in-charge, Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, Joseph Harmon, who has seemed since August of last year to be on a singular campaign to prove himself incapable of effectively opposing or leading.
Starting off with his visit, along with Granger, to the West Coast of Berbice in the wake of the murder of the Henry cousins, resulting in an escalation of violence, the former Minister of State has continued to jettison whatever speck of integrity that might have inadvertently remained in the wake of the attempt to steal the elections last year. For example, earlier this year, he claimed outright that the government had a clandestine cash grant operation in which it had given out $25 million dollars to 50 big businesses – not only did he go silent when challenged by the administration to provide proof of this massive movement of funds but the issue has not been brought up in Parliament where, if his claims were true, he would have been able to force an answer from government. And then of course there has been his anti-vaxxing campaign, and his weak, strange and vacillating policy of claiming that the Irfaan Ali administration was illegally installed by Western powers, even as he goes cap in hand to representatives of those same powers pleading a case that the “installed regime” is not cooperating with him and recognizing his constitutional powers as Leader of the Opposition.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Harmon has studiously avoided adding his voice to the current conflict over Granger’s governance. On the one hand, if he remains with the sinking leadership, his political career would be completely over if former President is ousted, the most likely scenario. On the other, if he leaves the Granger camp, he has been so tainted with the stain of irrationality and dictatorship, there will likely be no place for him in whatever new emerges.
Someone once said that politics, much like nature, abhors a vacuum, and there are several vacuums – of integrity, of competence, of courage, of cognitive ability – currently afflicting Congress Place under the increasingly besieged leadership of David Granger, a situation he might refer to, with trademark Afro-Saxon panache, as The Troubles. What fills that vacuum can spell trouble not only for the PNC but for Guyana as a whole.
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