Very often, in everyday life, what is advertised vastly differs from what manifests. This results in mistrust and there are many tales to vindicate. Currently, one of APNU/AFC Government’s 2020 elections campaign slogan, “honesty and decency”, reminds of that vast difference between what is touted and what is real.
For starters, after taking Government in 2015, it claimed to have inherited an empty treasury. Despite that claim, it was able to offer itself massive wage increases and host an extravagant inauguration ceremony. While the newly-elected Government officials reaped the benefits, the excuse of a lack of funds was used conveniently to deny public servants a wage increase.
That early incident made it extremely difficult to see any semblance of honesty in the context of the empty treasury claim. Further, a leading official subsequently proclaimed that there will be no apology for such actions.
Clearly, such behaviour by a public official cannot be in the realms of decency as was the action of another, who, sometime after in an open demonstration of unbridled power, humiliated a security guard while he executed his duty in the parking lot of a popular establishment. Those two are minuscule in comparison to the long list of incidents that took place but shielded under the slogan of “honesty and decency”.
Glaring, were cases when the Constitution was disrespected with seemingly utter disregard for law and order. Much has been said about President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of the previous Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). A ruling of the highest court of arbitration confirmed his actions as unconstitutional.
Not to be deterred, Mr Granger and his coalition government manufactured reasons not to respect the validly passed December 21, 2018, No-Confidence Motion (NCM) and the constitutional procedures its passage automatically triggered. Elections, which should have been held within three months of the NCM, are now to be held one year later.
It, therefore, becomes almost laughable that having fought valiantly to prevent the enshrined constitutional procedures from being effected and to not abide by law and order, the APNU/AFC campaigns on “honesty and decency”.
Given what unfolded and how the Constitution was defiled, one can easily state that it’s dishonest for the APNU/AFC Government to use the word “honesty” as a campaign selling point. One may even go further to state that it’s woefully indecent to do so. That said, and with democratic gains being trampled upon as noted from the incidents cited, there is still freedom to choose campaign slogans.
Having done so, and having plastered almost the entire country with flags conspicuously branded “honesty and decency”, the expectation would have been for that slogan to be defended. Instead, the APNU/AFC’s campaign is focused on attacking the General Secretary and Presidential Candidate of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C).
In addition, the President boasts of a plan he and his coalition government have for the development of Guyana. To date, that plan is yet to be unveiled and a manifesto presented with only about four weeks left for the March 2 elections. One can easily interpret that with the touted plan and manifesto still to be revealed, that none of the two exists. That would reek of dishonesty.
Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. The Government initially vehemently denied the existence of the US$18M signing bonus. As pressure mounted, it tried to defend why the money was not placed into the Consolidated Fund. Then, eventually, the excuses led to the bonus being labelled as a “gift”. Obviously, the question in that context is: a gift for whom?
Within days of this year, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars were signed, when they should not have been. Aside from that, PPP/C activists were abused and attacked while in the process of conducting elections awareness exercises in Laing Avenue. Planned meetings of the Opposition at Bagotstown and Mocha were disrupted with the one scheduled for the latter, forced to be called off.
In many other areas across the country, PPP/C’s flags have been removed and activists abused and threatened. Recently, a senior government official while addressing a public meeting, called on coalition supporters to remain outside polling stations and for strong men to be mobilised to follow ballot boxes. In the historical context of our elections, such a call can be seen as encouragement for undesirable actions which history can remind.
Civil society has branded such a beckoning call as dangerous and irresponsible. That may have summed it up; a campaign slogan that vastly differs from the reality on the ground. When APNU/AFC’s abysmal failure to deliver on electoral promises are taken into consideration, it becomes much easier to understand why mistrust in it is very prevalent.