All attention now turned to the congresses of the PNC and AFC – get ready for drama

As June 2024 gallops to an end, attention is rivetted on the PNC and the AFC. Both parties are holding their congress at the end of the month. In the case of the PNC, they are holding a three-day affair. In the case of the AFC, they are holding a one-day affair. Leading up to the congress, so far, there has been drama of the negative kind for both parties. There are allegations and counter-allegations of skullduggery in the nomination process and the roster of eligible members. For political parties that carry the rigging DNA like an albatross around their necks similar to the Ancient Mariner, one would have thought they would try to conduct themselves in a manner above board, with no one able to point fingers at them. But the fingers are already being pointed, and neither party needs anyone from outside to do the finger-pointing; it’s coming like a tsunami from within.
But no kind of election in the PNC and now the AFC would ever be without suspicion. After all, both of these parties were part of the massive efforts to rig the results of Election 2020, and both played a pivotal role in delaying for five long months the swearing-in of the new president and the new Government. Both parties played a role in violating the constitution, when they refused to accept the No-Confidence Motion and delayed constitutionally mandated elections for almost one year.
But this is recent history. The fact is that the PNC, for their whole history, have shown an inability to conduct an election — whether it is party-election or national election — without rigging. The PNC’s rigging prowess, unfortunately, is contagious.
When the AFC joined the PNC, the rigging bug became part and parcel of their being. Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses Nagamootoo, who were victims of PNC rigging when they were members of the PPP, and who have a history of railing against PNC rigging, themselves became masters of the art of rigging when the AFC became immersed in the PNC, between 2015 and 2020.
Between March 2020 and August 2020, they sold their souls and became baptized as election riggers by going along with the PNC-led rigging machinery. They even joined in making up the weirdest of stories. In Ramjattan’s case, the man spoke of the Russians who came to “hack the election machinery” for the PPP, trying to outdo Nagamootoo’s “half-bottle and quarter-bottle rum” story.
Today, the contestants for the PNC leadership are in a tense, ugly tussle, accusing each other of skullduggery. Aubrey Norton, the present leader, appointed himself as the coordinator of the Congress to be held at the end of this month. The General Secretary of the PNC has all but admitted that she is not in control of the list of electors. The computer CPU disappeared for a while. None of the contestants other than Norton has confidence that the list would be a legitimate one. All of them except Norton believe the list would be contaminated and skewed to ensure Aubrey Norton is returned as the PNC Leader.
It is unfathomable that 218 party groups have nominated persons for leadership and other positions in the executive, although the list of eligible members is still a “work in progress”, perhaps ready only the day before the elections. It is therefore even more unfathomable that Norton got 177 of these groups to nominate him. But this means also that, in spite of the machinations, almost 20% of the groups have nominated someone other than the incumbent to be leader.
Some of the contenders are even alleging that new groups have sprouted overnight, and that all these new groups have nominated Aubrey Norton.
The irony is that not even staunch party members have any confidence that the party is capable of conducting a free and fair internal election. How then can any citizen ever trust the PNC to conduct free and fair national elections?
It is in this context that we can recall people saying in 2011 and 2015 that the PNC, after so many years of rigging, must have changed and must have metamorphosed like a caterpillar into a butterfly, and therefore should be given a chance. They were given a chance in 2015, and in 2020 they proved correct the mantra that a “tiger cannot change its stripes” when they desperately tried to steal the election, falling back into their natural habitat of election riggers.
The AFC promised, in their formation before the 2006 elections, that they would bring a new political culture to Guyana. But when they joined the PNC, the rigging bug was too strong for their weak belly, and the rigging bug took hold of their belly. They morphed into a part of the PNC. Ramjattan was not shocked when the AFC became inseparable from the PNC; he had warned that it would happen, and that the AFC would become “dead meat”. In deciding he would not run for leadership at their congress at the end of June, Ramjattan has conceded that the AFC is “dead meat”.
As Guyanese begin to turn their attention to Election 2025, they are watching the PNC and the AFC. Nothing, so far in the preparation by the two parties for their congresses at the end of the month, brings assurances or any hope that these political parties are legitimate and genuine “governments-in-waiting”. Both parties demonstrate visibly to the public that they are not yet ready.
One thing is for sure: the negative drama that would inevitably occur would not shock any person. Watch out for the drama to come. It is early yet, but the events at the end of June would convince the Guyanese people that, in November 2025, only one man, Dr. Irfaan Ali; and only one party, the PPP, would stand tall in Election 2025.