As the nation observed at the consideration of the estimates in the National Assembly, which was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Guyanese witnessed the complete descent into lawlessness in Parliament as the Opposition disrupted Committee of Supply in its bid to deviate from Parliamentary norms of bringing a motion to the House on an issue it wants to be urgently addressed. The disorderly actions taken by the APNU/AFC in the National Assembly were uncalled for, as the Speaker never refused to deal with the allegations made by Opposition Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley that Government MP Minister Kwame McCoy had assaulted her. As a matter of fact, following Parliamentary norms, the Speaker requested that a motion be brought to the house. Even more bizarre is that, while APNU/AFC sought to have their own way on how the Speaker should handle the matter, the Guyana Police Force have already said that they are investigating the allegation.
The suspension of seven Opposition members from the Parliamentary proceedings for the day by the Speaker was justified, as their disrespect was flagrant.
The travesty that occurred in the National Assembly should never have started if our elected members, in the first instance, behaved and had the decorum befitted an MP. This appalling behaviour, however, is not surprising as, having witnessed what occurred after the March 2, 2020 elections and the subsequent five months, one would have a very good idea of how low the Opposition can descend. As a matter of fact, during the elections period in 2020, the APNU/AFC did not see their action to steal an election as unusual or weird in any way, but, rather, they were acting as though it is their democratic right to derail and discard the will of the Guyanese people. The consideration of the estimates for 2021 provided yet another opportunity for the APNU/AFC to redeem themselves and to prove that they are serious about the betterment of the Guyanese people. Thursday’s behaviour is also reminiscent of the consideration of the estimates for the Emergency Budget 2020, when they voted against $845 million that was intended to bring relief to the Amerindian residents and villagers.
It would be good if the APNU/AFC were to prove that they have matured politically by joining with the Government in tackling issues that would help in the development of Guyana, rather than disrupting the National Assembly, having not made any meaningful contribution. More so, their non-participation demonstrates a failure to make representation for the thousands of Guyanese who had voted for them.
As this newspaper had outlined previously, the Government has laid out a detailed plan for the development of Guyana for the next five years. It is quite clear that the Government has a full grasp of the challenges facing communities, and has made the necessary budgetary allocations to address those challenges. What is now required is that personal political interest be put aside by the Opposition and the national interest take the forefront of their agenda.
The current administration have always signalled their willingness to meaningfully engage with the parliamentary Opposition to push the national development agenda forward.
Only on Thursday, the need for the Government and Opposition to engage on national issues was discussed by President Dr Irfaan Ali, who candidly said the APNU/AFC need to own up to their error, which would facilitate a way for future engagement. In owning up to this error, Ali advised Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon to come clean to his supporters, and stop spreading falsehood about the legitimacy of the Government. This is a necessary step in undoing some of the wrongs that were done when the country’s democracy was under attack during the attempted rigging of the 2020 national elections.
Therefore, rather than adopting the current aggressive confrontational approach of attempting to discredit every developmental plan for Guyana, the Opposition should serve the people of Guyana by showing respect for Guyanese by meaningfully engaging in the developmental agenda of the administration.