Granger tries to paper over rift with Hoyte’s memory
After Desmond Hoyte succeeded to the leadership of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Presidency of Guyana following the death of Forbes Burnham in 1985, he embarked on a programme to reverse the socialist policies of the latter and to cleanse the party and Government of “Burnhamites”.
He bypassed David Granger as head of the Army by bringing in Joe Singh from the Guyana National Service. Singh was junior to Granger. Granger has consistently praised the socialist policies of Burnham and has vowed to “fulfil his legacy”.
However, when the PNC Reform commemorated the 18th death anniversary of its late leader and former President of Guyana, Hugh Desmond Hoyte on Tuesday, he was hailed as a “champion of change “by Granger, who is now the current leader and former President.
“Desmond Hoyte’s emphases on ideological and political change were not misplaced. He understood the inevitability of change just as the Founder-Leader did a generation earlier: not as an instrument of self-enrichment or self-aggrandisement, but of the party’s progress and the people’s happiness. He was a champion of change,” Granger stated.
He reminded that late President and PNC founder, Burnham, was always concerned about the changing conditions in the country and the party’s response to contemporary challenges. He said the PNC’s transition from a party in Opposition to one in Government required a change in leadership and stewardship, and Burnham saw that in Hoyte.
“It was out of this realisation that Forbes Burnham – discerning the quality of intellectual integrity of the man who would be Leader and President – appointed Desmond Hoyte to a series of important portfolios. Forbes Burnham saw the need for change after the first term in office ended with the 1968 General Elections, and Guyana prepared to embark on a course to become a republic. The majority of Ministers from that first cohort (were) changed,” Granger noted.
Hoyte was appointed to the key portfolios of Minister of Home Affairs (1969-1970), Minister of Finance (1970-1972), and Minister of Works and Communications (1972-1974). His appointments were thereafter focused on the economy, as Minister of Economic Development in 1974-1980 and Vice President for Economic Planning and Finance after the 1980 General Elections. He was re-designated Vice President for Production in 1983.
Following the resignation of Dr Ptolemy Reid as Prime Minister in 1984, Burnham appointed Hoyte to fill the void. The following year, after Burnham died, Hoyte succeeded him as President, and was formally elected to the office of President in the 1985 General Elections.
Granger explained that Hoyte, who had already been in Government for 17 years, understood the necessity for change, and embarked on the country’s economic transformation during his seven-year presidency, from 1985 to 1992.
“Desmond Hoyte was elected Party Leader at the Sixth Biennial Delegates’ Congress in August 1985, but as presidential candidate was unsuccessful in three successive General and Regional Elections: in 1992, 1997, and 2001. He was re-elected repeatedly as Party Leader from 1992 to 2002 (within) a decade of discord during which dissidents undermined the Leader’s authority and splintered the party’s solidarity.
“Desmond Hoyte’s 18th death anniversary, which the party now commemorates, reminds us of his final address to the 13th Biennial Delegates Congress in 2002, four months before his death. It was an unintended epilogue, or perhaps I should say epitaph, to his political career. It was both a warning of the danger of disunity and a yearning for an understanding of the necessity for change at the start of this millennium. In that address, he used the word ‘change’ 21 times,” the PNCR Leader said.
PNCR Chairperson Volda Lawrence posited that Hoyte was the ideal statesman, who was highly respected and was undeniably one of Guyana’s esteemed sons.
She said his appreciation of poetry, coupled with his economic acumen, transcended his life and set him apart to be “indelibly etched in the annals of Guyanese history”.