While there are some doubts as to whether Emperor Nero actually fiddled while Rome burned, when the history of Guyana is written, there is no question that David Granger will be known as the president who fiddled while Guyana burned. Being a historian, more than most, he is aware of the deep schisms in our society, which have been refracted by the political system to create a very volatile and incendiary condition whenever elections are in the air.
When that systemic condition in concatenated with the specific circumstances that have precipitated the constitutional crisis that has enveloped our country since Dec 21, 2018, then one can only conclude that the speech which he delivered last Friday was akin to pouring gasoline upon a smoldering fire.
Ever since his entry into overt politics since 2011 – he has boasted he was a member of the PNC since 1965 – Granger has carefully crafted and projected a churchgoing, avuncular and amiable image. But it was all a sham and pappy show which soon became evident – but polished over with the patina of anodyne ‘feel good’ expressions.
One example would suffice before we examine his inflammatory speech. On the hustings, he promised an “inclusive government” that would include even “elements” of the PPP — in addition to the AFC — with which he had negotiated a “power sharing”, Cummingsburg Accord. Their “joint” Manifesto included root and branch constitutional reform that would institutionalise a massive reduction of the President’s powers, which would then be transferred to the Prime Minister. But it was all smoke and mirrors, as even the one significant coalition partner within APNU, the WPA, complained bitterly and publicly of not being consulted by the PNC, which held all significant power. It was the AFC’s refusal to publicly criticise the PNC’s betrayal that allowed Granger’s ingratiating image to give him a Teflon-like cover for his insidious, divisive actions. Such as, even though the AFC had promised that “sugar was too big to fail”, unilaterally closing four sugar estates and throwing on the bread line 7000 workers, mainly from the Indian-Guyanese community, which they boasted the AFC had brought in to make their Government “uniquely multiracial”.
In his recorded speech to the nation, President Granger had a “plaster for every sore” that had burst out in the body politic after the successful No-Confidence Motion (NCM). The most critical sore, of course, was his and his Government’s refusal to follow up with their initial acceptance of the constitutional consequences of the NCM – for the President and Cabinet to resign and elections to be held in three months. He challenged this on a number of pathetically poor subterfuges in the judicial realm – which the President now insults the Guyanese people’s collective intelligence by claiming they were “a means of bringing clarity and certainty to the contentious issues which arose as a consequence of the no-confidence vote.”
Does President Granger really believe the Guyanese people believe him when he now claims, as a “contentious issue”, that 33 seats are not the majority in the 65-member National Assembly, when he accepted the votes of the identical 33 seats as a majority to pass any number of Acts, and then personally signed them into law? Does he not understand that even his own supporters see his volte face as a ploy to cling onto power for a few months longer, even as they cynically go along with the ploy, just as they had done with the PNC’s rigging of elections between 1968 and 1985?
What makes the ploy incendiary, however, is that most Guyanese believe that Granger is risking his political capital because he needs those “few months” to consummate his plans for rigging the elections, because the NCM caught him flat-footed.
The Opposition PPP has issued a response which refutes, point by point, Granger’s platitudinous utterances, and they must be commended for the measured tones in which they couched that response. The people, however, are quite insulted by the gap between Granger’s words and his actions. Will the sore explode?