Home Letters Let us leave the ‘hustlers’ and that tired old message in 2019
The seductive idea of a third force in Guyana’s politics has been around since our independence in 1966. That idea that ‘power’ could be brokered and improved; that transparent governance practice could be forced upon the big two (PPP/C and PNC). The Alliance for Change filled that spot in 2011 as they became the desired swing vote in Parliament and 2015 when they occupied 40 per cent of the seats on the Government side of the house in a coalition Government with the PNC. Given that the ‘power broker’ ideal is still being peddled, albeit by newer parties, the performance of Guyana’s first successful ‘third force’ bears examination.
The AFC was formed when two lawyers who wrote columns for the PPP and PNC started courting each other via those columns. They applauded each other’s genius and soon evoked the ire of their respective party members. The seduction of Khemraj Ramjattan was underway and soon he made well-orchestrated accusations of corruption against the executive and stormed off to for the AFC with Trotman. Interestingly, Trotman had a different story to tell about how and what the AFC was all about, for him, it was ‘Nassau’.
In 2016, after Trotman made a speech at Bartica, Freddie Kissoon wrote that Trotman used the AFC as a ‘Trojan horse’. “He openly told the crowds that although he was a part of the AFC, he never left the struggle and that the Prodigal Son has returned.” He then told the crowd that 10 years ago, he and David Granger met in Nassau (The Bahamas) and Granger laid out a plan for Guyana. On the day in 2015 when the election results were made known, Trotman indicated that Mr Granger called him and said to him, “Raphael, this is Nassau”. Thereafter Trotman pulled away from the AFC and was appointed a Minister outside of the Cummingsburg Accord. Ramjattan had earlier ceded his desired post of Prime Minister to another disgruntled PPP executive, Moses Nagamootoo. In 2019, Ramjattan seized control of the AFC and Granger was given an ultimatum: Ramjattan as prime ministerial candidate or the AFC would go its way. This demand was met as Granger saw no alternative given his (Granger’s) low approval ratings.
The AFC never delivered on its promise to reform the PNC, the treasury was drained completely dry by the coalition by the end of 2019; Granger’s disrespect of the constitutional requirement of an election within 90 days of losing a motion of No-Confidence was cheered by AFC Ministers, others were appalled, and men such as General Secretary Sixtus Edwards walked away in protest. Nagamootoo made a spectacle of himself with ludicrous attempts to persuade the public that there were different types of halves and what constituted a majority of 65. The betrayal of the ‘power broker’ ideal was complete.
What was worse is the involvement of AFC members in almost every major financial scandal of the Granger Administration, from the $600 million unaccounted for at D’Urban Park to the wanton disregard for procurement laws in the Demerara Harbour Bridge feasibility study fiasco and the present-day splitting of contracts to avoid the Tender Board.
As we head into general elections in 2020, the AFC has splintered into new parties, headed by former influential AFC members, Robert Badal, Timothy Jonas, et al. They all come with the same old AFC message, from the same old AFC people: Vote for us, we will broker power and be the balance in Parliament. Recently, they have begun to form small alliances in preparation for the resurrection of Frankenstein’s monster. As we leave the year of No-Confidence behind us and look forward to the return of parliamentary democracy and a bright and prosperous future, let us leave the ‘hustlers’ and that tired old message in 2019. A happy New Year to all.