Kaieteur News – Here are four things you need to reflect on if you take an interest in where Guyana is heading.
1 – Vincent Alexander long ago observed that leaders of political parties should have term limits. 2 – Most of the trade unions are headed by leaders whose tenure is longer than 25 years.
3 – The constitution of the AFC says that a leader “MAY” not run after holding office for two consecutive terms. Note the emphasis on the word “MAY.” In January 2017 at the AFC’s congress at the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School, Khemraj Ramjattan in contesting for a third term cited the constitution and the word MAY. The constitution does not prevent a third term for a leader. 4 – Basil Williams told me on the balcony of the High Court many moons ago that the leader of the PNC has enormous jurisdiction in the party.
These items should be considered by the PNC as it is currently in the throes of leadership confrontation. It is unthinkable in a country with one of the youngest populations in the world to have people serving as organisation heads for 20, 30, 35 years. The implication of such longevity is very disheartening to such a young country.
If a sports organisation has a chairperson who has a two-term limit, it means that over a period of 25 years you would have had several persons with experience in administration and travel. Several of these chairpersons would have travelled the world, meet their counterparts from other countries and would have broaden their minds on how sports are organised.
The same principle applies to trade unionism. After 25 years, with term limits, the trade union movement would have had several leaders with knowledge of how to negotiate with the business world and the government. The end result of all of this is that the trade union movement would have more talent at its disposal.
Take the contrary situation. If you have an organisation head ruling for 30 years, then the skills and experience are not distributed in the society. This single person has all the experience and knowledge locked away in his/her head. When you have such a young population, then without term limits, the country will lose. Young talented folks would not want to wait until they are in their sixties to reach the apex of their organisation.
The year 2025 is our next general election. If Harmon is the PNC’s leader he will be in his seventies. If it is Aubrey Norton, he will be 68. If there are no term limits in the PNC then both Harmon and Norton, if they keep on winning in their party’s leadership, will be in advanced age. But the young PNC aspirants will also be in advanced age if they have to wait another 20 years to become leader.
The youthfulness of Guyana’s population makes it urgent for all organisations to have term limits. The PNC should learn from the mistakes of its current leader, David Granger, and incorporate into its constitution term limits for leader, chairman and general secretary.
To argue against term limits is to push an open door. It is a win-win formula. No one can lose with term limits. Mr. Granger, many strongly argue, was a decent human not involved in corruption. But he did not have leadership qualities and leadership qualities are what a politician needs to win elections.
The APNU+AFC’s legitimate and clean defeat in the March 2020 election is too complex a situation to put down to one factor only. So it is an academic non-starter to cite Mr. Granger as the reason for the defeat. But his flaws featured in major ways.
Guyana is too small a nation living in compact physicality, for the head of a political party to remain unconnected with the population. This was one of the major flaws of Mr. Granger. I have written it before and I am repeating it, I believe Mr. Granger entered politics reluctantly after the PNC got into a dilemma with the Robert Corbin leadership.
His two main rivals – Carl Greenidge and Faith Harding – were absent from Guyana for long periods and there were no other credible persons willing to contest. Mr. Corbin was then hard-pressed to find someone to take over the PNC. I believe Corbin and Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine who birthed APNU, managed to persuade Granger; Roopnaraine being a long-standing friend of Granger. But his performance as president was bitterly disappointing and it was hurting the credibility of the PNC and the government. The lessons of the past must always be internalised. The PNC should learn by imposing term limits on its leaders. It will be good for the PNC’s future.
(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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