Just a few days ago, the People’s National Congress (PNC) held a rally in Linden in observance of its 62nd anniversary. The occasion, which was seen as a launch of its campaign as an election approaches, saw the presence of West Indies cricket giant Chris Gayle. That raised questions as to his possible support or endorsement of the PNC, and by extension, the APNU/AFC coalition.
From the images, those in attendance were clearly overjoyed at being able to interact with one of the world’s most famous cricketers. Not many would want to pass on such an opportunity, having been informed of his intended presence.
The specifics of that is unclear. However, to mobilise and energise the party’s base for that political event in the mining town, one could speculate that there may be more than just informing of Gayle merely gracing the occasion.
The APNU/AFC coalition government has become very unpopular, even among its strongholds in various parts of the country. That’s by its own doing having failed to deliver on any of its promises since taking office in May 2015. Its boast of providing a good life for all Guyanese remains just that: a boast. During that time, it gave itself a hefty raise in salary and unleashed some two hundred new taxes on the ordinary citizens.
Under its watch, cost of living skyrocketed, making it extremely difficult for many Guyanese to adequately provide for their families. As the citizenry struggles to cope with soaring prices, increasing crime and unreliable electricity supply, the Government seems engrossed with extravagance at the expense of the now burdened taxpayers.
The extravagance seems pervasive from travel, dietary, outreaches, security, regional and national events. Many stories have been written about this and concerns have been raised over the depletion of foreign reserves, allegedly used to sustain Government’s increased spending. With over twenty-five Ministers in the Government, the extravagance therein, is difficult to miss.
With a focus other than trying to improve the lives of all Guyanese and to move the country along a development trajectory as was the hallmark under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration, the APNU/AFC Government seems more concerned about itself. This, which is evident from the massive pay hike it took and benefits allegedly derived from wanton corruption, has cause much discontent among Guyanese, including its supporters.
Having confined itself to offices and having been broadsided by the No-Confidence Motion (NCM), APNU/AFC rushed and implemented outreach programmes, suddenly under the guise of bringing Government to the people. They were poorly attended despite the lure of promises and service provision. Even meetings within strongholds have not met the desired outcome.
It is within that context Gayle’s presence in Linden would have to be examined. Is it, cognisant of being unable to attract good crowds, APNU/AFC saw Gayle’s presence as an impetus to improve attendance? Just before that, Gayle visited the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre, interacted with students and teachers and made a donation. The excitement on the faces of those he met there speaks to how revered he is and the positive impact he has, especially on young minds.
From all reports, this is what he does in his homeland in Jamaica and other places he visits. It is most commendable and probably expected. Is it, cognisant of Gayle’s humane gesture, the APNU/AFC saw an opportunity to cash in with the sole intention to maximise participation given the ongoing discontent?
It seems a fair question, especially since Gayle is not seen as a political figure, and that the Leader of the PNC, President David Granger, was booed by his own supporters in the past in Linden.
With his presence giving rise to the belief of support or endorsement, Gayle may have taken some flack. He was quick to release a statement pointing out that he didn’t endorse or support any individual or political party while in Guyana. He said he was invited to Linden to participate in a community outreach, which is an opportunity he relishes as a sports personality. He also pointed out that he decided to go to Linden since it’s one of the places he never went to in Guyana.
That raises the question: what exactly was the supporters of APNU/AFC told with regard to Gayle’s Linden visit? Were they given the impression that his appearance could be seen as an endorsement? Whatever the answer, one can be led to believe that APNU/AFC capitaliszed on Gayle’s passion for community outreaches and deliberately scheduled it to coincide with the rally.
It can also be asked if there was an element of misinformation on the part of APNU/AFC in enticing supporters through Gayle’s presence. Misinformation is not alien to the coalition. It’s because of that, it challenged the validity of the NCM. The current political stalemate has its genesis in that challenge.
Despite evidence to the contrary, APNU/AFC continues to peddle misinformation on its adherence to the Constitution and the provision of the good life to all. A valid question would therefore be: was Gayle, who should have known better, deliberately misinformed?