APNU/AFC has nothing to offer but race-baiting – Walrond

…condemns Opposition for radicalising, racialising debate

Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond

Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond on Wednesday took the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) to task for its divisive rhetoric when it comes to the dismissal of what she described as politically-compromised public servants.
She also condemned the Opposition for incessant radicalising and racialising of  policy debate.
Allegations of ethnic cleansing have been levelled against the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government by Opposition members throughout the debates. During her presentation on Budget 2021, however, Minister Walrond pointed out that many of these public servants were dismissed because they were openly politically inclined and moreover, obstructionists.
The Minister also noted that the term “ethnic cleansing” has a sordid history that is akin to genocide and, therefore, condemned the APNU/AFC’s reckless use of the term to score political points.
“In the aftermath of the election of March 2020, several persons in the public sector openly indicated that they were adamantly opposed, under any circumstances, to President Ali and to any PPP Government. They openly said so! Some took to social media, some took to the mainstream press, some even took to streets. Some of these Public Servants were captured on camera praying and referring to anyone outside of their “chosen political circle” as “devils”.
“Some said that the PPP/C were rigging the election. Others said that any PPP/C Administration would be illegitimate under any circumstances. Some said they had no intention nor inclination to work with a PPP/C Government. These sentiments were not hidden, Mr Speaker. They were openly and bluntly expressed and, in some cases, unrelenting in their frequency,” Minister Walrond further contended.
She noted that many of these officials, instead of doing the honourable thing and resigning, stayed on the job and then proceeded to obstruct the Government’s agenda. According to Walrond, some of these officials refused to cooperate with the new Government.
“And what choice does a government which is determined to deliver a programme for the people have but to part ways with those who are resolutely and demonstrably opposed to the Government itself regardless of its programmes, to the point that some of them demonstrate a willingness to obstruct the Administration. How could such people be relied upon to carry out or implement an agenda they themselves openly profess to be against?”
Minister Walrond pointed out that some of the very people who were dismissed by the PPP Government have had cause to come out and distance themselves from the Opposition APNU/AFC.
This is likely a reference to former Public Works Ministry Chief Works Officer Geoffrey Vaughn, who was terminated earlier this month. He was quoted in sections of the media, urging persons not to use his termination for political mileage.
Walrond also pointed out that despite its cries of ethnic cleansing, when the APNU/AFC entered office in 2015, it terminated thousands of Community Support Officers (CSOs), many of whom were of Indigenous descent.
During his address to mark the launch of Amerindian Heritage Month 2020, President Dr Irfaan Ali had promised that the Government would rehire approximately 2000 of these CSOs who were terminated.
He had also made it clear that all the benefits aimed at empowering Amerindian communities which were “heartlessly snatched away” would be restored. In this regard, he said that Community Development Plans (CDPs) would be reintroduced to ensure that Amerindians were able to determine the sustainable livelihoods they desire. (G3)