Looking forward to ‘integrity’ reports on people entering political arena

Dear Editor,
‘Tis the season, and right on cue come the ‘third’ parties. Guyana has a rich history of small political parties, many formed by persons who are former members or associates of the big two and even special interest groups such as the Guiana United Muslim Party. The 2020 elections are attracting the ‘new’ political class, the “entitled”. Driven by the success of the Alliance For Change (AFC), which evolved from a group of persons rejected by major parties into a viable third force, then parlayed into ‘kingmakers’ and eventually Ministers and high-salaried Government apparatchiks. The meteoric rise to riches by AFC members has not been lost on the Guyanese populace and has inspired ambitions in a new generation. The arguments third parties make are “the big two are bad, hence by default, we are good” and “we need to check the power of the PPP and PNC. What we never hear from the ‘third’ parties are the track records of the new ‘leaders’ and their ability to deliver on lofty goals contained in their glossy manifestos. A sense of entitlement is their common denominator.
Proven ability to deliver on manifesto promises is never a big issue for ‘third’ parties because they never actually want to win a plurality of the votes, they aim to be brokers of powers, to use 5000 votes to control parties that garner 500,000. It is the ultimate confidence-trick. These ‘third’ forces are attractive to persons who do not want to compete within larger parties for positions of responsibilities, upon joining they are quickly drafted into the ‘executive’ as the party membership moves from four to five. In larger parties, these persons would have to compete with as many as 500 young professional persons for a junior position and only by hard work and merit make their way up the ranks. Democracy begins with meritocracy; when a person is rejected by comrades they have worked alongside for decades, it is not by accident, it is because flaws have become known, and while we all have those, some such as avarice and lust for power are unforgivable. One ‘leader’ seems ecstatic to have achieved his lifelong ambition of being nominated as presidential candidate!
The constitutional crisis precipitated by David Granger’s refusal to accept the successful passage of the No-Confidence Motion of 2018 was the perfect opportunity for persons to show their true mettle. Believers in justice and democracy made their voices heard. They organised protests; they wrote strongly worded letters of condemnation to the press; newspaper editors and news agencies took stands, for and against tyranny. Where were the ‘third’ forces then? They were sitting in armchairs proffering theories of “it could be this or it could be that” Fence-sitting 101. The PPP did the heavy lifting with one other group of six making their mark with symbolic weekly protests. The leaders of that group made moves into the Civic arm of the PPP recently. Standing firmly and bravely for what you believe and finding like-minded fellow travellers is the essence of a genuine political journey. What does the newly ‘entitled’ class stand for or against?
There is the issue of funding of the new parties; the business of politics is not cheap. One new outfit is closely aligned with the current Administration historically and culturally. Martin Carter’s warning of the “mouth being muzzled by the hand that feeds it” can be augmented by the sentiment that the mouth is also directed by its paymasters. In this context, “dual-citizens” speak to the duplicity of nature, not of residence.
The big parties themselves are not immune to “outsiders” bypassing working their way through the ranks. David Granger was installed as the leader under controversial circumstances that included gunshots and padlocked doors at Congress Place. The result has been a leader not familiar with the membership of his party, and dare I say, the philosophy of its founding members. The PNC under Granger has moved from pro-poor policies to an elitist agency, rife with corruption and characterised by the callous disregard for the welfare of ordinary citizens.
New parties constantly heap the failures of the PNC onto the shoulders of the PPP, citing failure to deliver on promises. This is a fallacious argument not supported by the facts. The PPP’s manifestos are printed and disseminated widely, an examination will show a higher than 80 per cent completion rate on all promises, and often, the unfulfilled are moved to the next cycle and delivered during that period. Why should the PPP be blamed for the abject failure of the APNU/AFC? It is only done to present the new in the light of potential saviours – that is until you ask to see their delivery records in their current jobs. “We are small and have good intentions, we should not be attacked” is the refrain. I would ask why a question of ability is deemed an “attack” and remind all that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Editor, new parties will emerge, their leadership should be subjected to the same deep inspection and interrogation under harsh light as with the big two, not because “politics is a dirty game” but precisely to protect politics from becoming a game for the dirty. I look forward to seeing the ‘integrity’ reports on the people entering the political arena. I am sure more than one charlatan will be unmasked in the coming months. All are welcome but they must come with clean hands.

Robin Singh