People generally have expectations of those who aspire to public office, especially of those seeking the nation’s highest. That noted, Donald Trump, not seen as the conventional candidate, may have had to work a bit harder than others. With little or no political background and experience, he made a commitment during the 2016 USA presidential campaign to “drain the swamp”.
Seeing things from a business perspective, he used that metaphorical phrase to tout his plans of fixing problems within the federal Government. That mantra probably created expectations of things being done differently from what’s expected of seasoned politicians.
Given that Mr Trump won, one can posit that a good reason for his success could be that many Americans wanted things to be done differently from what seemed routine. His perceived decisiveness— though an expected business approach along with the belief that the “swamp” would be “drained”— of bureaucracy as well, may have resonated with millions.
Within a short period, his presidency became plagued with controversy. That could have contributed to him been unable to “drain the swamp” to the expectation of his supporters. That suggests, some Americans, who believed, are disappointed over their expectations not fulfilled. Their circumstance epitomises that of millions of others across the world who are disillusioned by failed campaign promises. Guyana is not excluded.
There can be no dispute that the APNU/AFC coalition was very convincing in their campaign promises during the 2015 general elections. Foremost was the promise to do things differently and to wipe out corruption. In an effort to try and prove that corruption was rife under the PPP/C, the APNU/AFC Government spent millions of taxpayers’ money on forensic audits of State agencies.
While that progressed, the APNU/AFC Government, almost immediately, became embroiled in controversies as it was accused of wanton corruption. Without public tendering, the audits were farmed out to its friends and cronies.
The construction of Jubilee Park, the Sussex Street Drug Bond, the feasibility study for the new Demerara Harbour Bridge and the many questionable transactions for the supply for medical drugs are just a few alleged corrupt dealings of the APNU/AFC Government within the early part of its tenure.
Allegations of corruption, including the siphoning of State lands to cronies, have grown drastically over the past four years despite the promise of doing things differently. On entering office with a seeming high level of goodwill, there was an expectation of it delivering on its promises. There was also the expectation of a visionary approach to sustain the unprecedented economic expansion and growth that were envisaged and prudently managed by the PPP/C.
Having moved Guyana from a bankrupt nation to one of prosperity under its tenure from 1992-2015, the PPP/C would have positively transformed and modernised Guyana through the implementation of visionary economic policies. Those policies led a vast improvement in the lives of ordinary Guyanese who were empowered by their own economic advancement.
Enabling environments were created across the country as vital services were decentralised to allow for modernisation beyond the capital. The unparalleled development of the country’s social and physical infrastructure reminds of Guyana’s transformation under the PPP/C.
Having therefore inherited a developing country with tangible local and international assets, and with an oil-based economy on the horizon, there was an expectation for the APNU/AFC Government to sustain Guyana’s development. Today’s reality under the coalition is unflattering as economic woes have been inflicted, development stymied and visionary leadership noticeably absent.
The production of plantain chips seemingly became President David Granger’s vision to improve livelihoods and grow the economy. He went as far as championing the sale of cook-up rice as another impetus. While those, to an extent, can in a small way assist individuals, it cannot be a macro-transformative project to drive what was once a thriving and rapidly growing economy under the PPP/C.
Some four years after, having seemingly been short on ideas, he is now advocating that Guyanese stop selling plantain chips and get into manufacturing. From that, it appears it took him that length of time to see things from a larger perspective. However, despite that late push, he has yet to envisaged and implement a macro-transformative project of any form. The economy continues to slide under his watch as many Guyanese are saddled with economic burdens.
Therefore, by its own record, the APNU/AFC Government has removed any expectations Guyanese may have harboured for the improvement of their lives and the development of the country.
Some hold fast to the belief that a “swamp” may have been created as of May 2015; one that is overly saturated with failed promises, innumerable allegations of corruption, a dearth of visionary approach to governance and one in which doing things differently means giving itself a massive pay hike at the expense of suffering Guyanese. Mr Trump’s mantra on swamps may be echoing.