Home News Dictatorship ended, freedom rebirthed and democracy prevailed
Recently the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) vehemently objected to the advertised presence of several State agencies being part of a meeting held by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Georgetown District. The objection seemed only natural, given it was a planned meeting by a political entity; the ruling one. The official presence of such agencies would obviously raise concerns over party paramountcy through the process of politicisation.
Such concerns are not new to those familiar with the country’s political history. They would never forget the image when the flag of the PNC flew higher than the Golden Arrowhead in the compound of the Appeal Court when that party was in Government. That firmly and unambiguously demonstrated that the party was in charge and epitomised the oppression that prevailed.
While fear permeated during that period, that image served to further embed it into mindsets and ironically, as the flag fluttered, it froze many into silence. There was no mistaking that the PNC party reigned supreme and the State apparatus was made to be at its disposal. So were public servants who believably, were mandated to attend political meetings and to participate in State-sponsored events, including Mashramani.
The imposed fear made it much easier for the workers to succumb to such demands since there were mouths to feed. In looking back, while it was despicable, it can be attributed to natural consequences of a dictatorship where the iron fist created soft bellies by choice. Those who opposed took tremendous risks with some tragically paid the ultimate price as the brutality took toll.
In assessing history, those heinous acts may now be deemed as understandable within the context of the consequences of a dictatorship and obviously much to the displeasure of the victims. The dictatorship ended, freedom rebirthed and democracy prevailed for over two decades. Even in those freer and modern times and when the PNC was in Opposition, it created scenarios to berate the PPP Administration accusing it of being undemocratic.
Those accusations were even made when the PNC engineered acts to deliberately create instability necessitating responses to ensure law and order. It used the 2015 campaign to repeat those accusation and made bold promises to “restore” democracy and the rule of law. By its own record since 2015, it would not be inaccurate to state that’s a promise it failed to deliver or even remember.
Its current position in disregarding the enshrined and ensuing process of a successful no-confidence motion highlights its lack of adherence to the constitution and by extension, the rule of law.
The use of State agencies at one of its meeting must therefore be seen in a particular context. Based upon Government’s campaign and the expectation it built in the minds of Guyanese, freedom of choice, democracy, transparency and adherence to the Constitution should be a norm. In the first instance, one would expect that if a State agency is embarking on an outreach to engage citizens in an effort to foster awareness about particular programmes and policies, it would be done independently of any political entity to avoid any semblance of politicisation.
From their public profiles, the entities advertised seemed very capable of conducting such outreaches as part of its service provision. Based upon the advertisement in question, it may be easy for a conclusion to be made that the ruling party might have forced the participation of the said entities. The timing can also foster that belief given the Government’s noticeable efforts to engage the populace in various parts of the country suddenly after the passage of the No-confidence Motion. Within that context it would be difficult to conclude otherwise especially when such outreaches were not common before.
This brings into question whether these entities freely agreed to participate or were coerced. That suggestion may not be unreasonable given that the PNC, which is now the major party in the current coalition (many are of the opinion it is the Government), when in government, was reportedly responsible for forcing public servants to participate in State events and for flying its flag in the compound of the Appeal Court.
What currently plays out raises eyebrows as to whether these are signs of a repeat of that oppressive period. Analysts have pointed to other developments that could conclude a gradual return of those dark days. Most significant must be the President unilaterally appointing the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) disregarding what obtained for 27 years. The process he disregarded began with one of his party’s predecessor as President; Desmond Hoyte who was an attorney.
The imposing of a plethora of crippling taxes, the seemingly unjustified firing of a number of persons, including professionals, and the accusations of political witch-hunts, further add to that belief of a growing dictatorship. The refusal to abide by the Constitution since the no-confidence vote may have removed any doubt some might have as to that ominous return. In what seems as desperation on its part to stay in office, coercing State entities in the present seems an action plucked directly from the past.