A vote for David Granger and his coalition in 2015 was touted as a “vote for change” and indeed, there have been changes in the Administration of Government of Guyana. A major change has been the levelling of corruption charges based on evidence. Former President Bharrat Jagdeo has used the constitutional office of Leader of the Opposition to transform the previous culture of allegations based on innuendo or anecdote. When in office, the PPP/C often replied to allegations with requests for evidence. Given a chance to prosecute many of these claims made while in Opposition, the Granger Administration has fallen woefully short of credible. The sale of land for housing at less than market value at Sparendaam and a mix-up about the inclusion of the purchase of law reports in an employment contract speaks more to political witchhunts than serious corruption.
We are now in the ear of evidence-based allegations, with files and complaints being filed at various law enforcement agencies, whistleblowers have emerged in every sector of the public service and from across the political spectrum to provide tangible proof of wrongdoing. Names, dates, documents, images, file numbers, specificity to the nth degree.
As interesting as this phenomenon is, a pattern emerges after the response. Following allegations, there is a period of total silence which lasts for seven to seventeen days. During this period, the claims are pushed with vigour by media, corruption watchdogs and political activists. If the hue and cry dies down, we never get an explanation as with claims of verbal abuse of a constable by Annette Ferguson and the requested release of an unlicensed motorcycle rider in August 2018. However, when allegations do persist, the public is then treated to an ‘explanation’. These are not accompanied by policy documents, paper trails or any other exculpatory evidence. For example, the bizarre case of the payment of US$9000 into David Patterson’s personal account has not been attended by any paperwork. Patterson has repeatedly avoided explaining how a Chinese company got his personal bank account details; short of it being printed on the back of his business card, there is no plausible explanation, nor has Patterson provided paper evidence to demonstrate repatriation of the “travel expenses” to MARAD. Take my word for it, this is not an option preferred by taxpayers.
There is also the denial of allegations based on specificity. Winston Jordan denied receiving a “US$20 million” signing bonus. His defence when the truth came out was a lame excuse that the actual bonus is “US$18 million”. Eric Philips denied receiving “3000 acres” of land. Now that the evidence has come to light of a grant of “2000 acres” with probable cause to believe there may be more revelations of additional acreages allocated, there is no doubt Phillips will rely on the ‘Jordan’ defence.
There are other minor patterns that show the Granger Administration lacks moral and ethical direction from top to bottom; acceptance of paid travel and lack of policy directing courses of action.
The clearest and most damming pattern is of the inaction by President Granger when faced with irrefutable evidence. His Excellency’s ability to turn his face from black and white realities is remarkable if only for its consistency. He is the rock upon which his corrupt Ministers stand, on drug bonds, on D’Urban Park, on the Harbour Bridge, on downsized but increased priced airport renovations, contracts for family and friends. More and more of the Cabinet clamber onto the safety of Granger’s rock, seemingly not noticing that it is sinking inexorably into the quicksand of corruption. We are into the silence again and David Granger is experiencing that sinking feeling, and his fear of facing the electorate is palpable.