Guyana has found itself at a critical and pivotal place in its history as it prepares to usher in 2018. The country has found oil in commercial quantities, and is preparing to harvest the benefits and associated profits that would no doubt flow from the development of its infant petroleum sector; which, if managed properly, can result in overall developmental and growth prospects being easily imagined.
The country is also being run by a coalition which comprises a few resuscitated small political parties, the infamous Peoples National Congress (PNC), the Alliance for Change (AFC), and the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA). Altogether, this coalition is attempting to test its political acumen and the ability of its politicians to work in unity and cohesion to accomplish a defined set of goals aimed at transforming not only the socio-economic dynamics of the country, but its entrenched and archaic political culture.
While it is clear that the coalition is testing the notion of shared governance and multi-party Executive rule, it is also clear that its governance model may not stand the test of time, as it is not only cracking internally but externally. If the coalition is to be successful in managing the affairs of this country, then the opposition Peoples Progress Party, which ruled for 23 consecutive years, cannot be locked out.
The fact that the political heads of those parties which form the coalition appear indifferent and unconcerned about the PPP’s positioning at this time is telling and appalling. It means they believe they can turn the fortunes of this country around without the PPP. They feel they alone possess the qualities, ideas and philosophies that can guide public policy, which in turn would impact the livelihoods of thousands of Guyanese who come from diverse backgrounds and historic enclaves.
From the posture and tone of some of the coalition leaders, Guyana does not need the PPP, as their miniature coalition is inclusive enough and surviving thus far. Others feel that they can engineer the disappearance of the PPP and its leaders from the scene by embarking on a systematic campaign to rewrite aspects of Guyana’s history and peddle mistruths and half-truths about the PPP’s tenure in office and track record.
Leaders who support and endorse the position in regard to locking the PPP out of Government and ruling alone have no place in a modern, civilized, disciplined and democratic Guyana. They are selfish and unpatriotic, because they continue to place their egos and passion for political revenge above the greater national good, which involves finding creative ways to bridge the sea of political differences that has curtailed our development since the post-colonial era. They are not champions of inclusivity, good governance and stability; they are angels of doom, who revel in the drama associated with the politics of division and disunity.
If this country is to move forward and embark on a genuine process of healing and reconciliation, political leaders must admit that there is no such thing as a “pure multi-ethnic party” in Guyana. Both the PNC and PPP draw their strength from the two major ethnic groups in this country; as did the United Force back in the days, when it was strongly supported by Amerindians.
The two major races hardly ever deflect, because of their suspicions about each other and the divisive rhetoric of their leaders, who quietly preach propaganda that eventually undermines the unification process. When they are frustrated, the two groups, with support from all of the other minor races, deliver shocks when they change the voting patterns or withhold support for their own party, as was seen at the elections in 1999, 2003, 2011 and possibly 2015.
But the politicians are not learning. If they accept that they aspire to represent all Guyanese but their base is particularly composed of one ethnic group, whose interest they defend and represent, Guyana will be on the path to ethnic and political reconciliation. Leaders from both the PNC and PPP, if they work to put their past behind them and attempt to genuinely negotiate a power-sharing agreement or a formula for shared government, as well as a system where the ‘winner does not take all’, Guyanese would be the only victors, because such a system can be seen as practical only if all parties are on board in 2018.
Guyana is bleeding. Her sons and daughters are facing ruin because the economy is in pre-recession mode. Crime and criminality are eating away at the safety and wellbeing of the youths and all adults. Racial hostility is on the rise, and the country is regressing.
If the coalition does not get serious about constitutional reform, shared governance and national unity, it means it is happy with ‘managing the decline of a once great country’.
Let 2018 inspire the President and Opposition Leader to pave a new beginning for all Guyanese by forcing an alliance based on mutual respect, unity, and shared governance…