The PNC is proving truth of the old maxim that you cannot separate means from ends, because ends are nothing more than consummated means. In 1964, PNC leader Forbes Burnham was willing to go along with the machinations of the colonial forces to stage a coup against the PPP government that had been promised they would lead Guyana to independence if they won the 1961 elections. Which they did. And a coup it was, because the imposition of Proportional Representation (PR) which favoured the PNC – and which it had been clamouring for – from First Past the Post (FPTP) was due to the military power of the colonial power to arbitrarily change the law. Not much different from sending in troops as did in 1953.
Guyana’s independence was birthed out of that foul betrayal by the PNC of the principles which they had entered the political arena against the PPP. And the present betrayal of those principles by the present leader of the PNC following the March 2 elections must be analysed against that history. While the PPP at that time were agonising on what type of constitution Guyana should assume at Independence – and had actually crafted one by 1962 – Forbes Burnham insisted it did not matter. Constitution were simply pieces of paper, which could be altered to authorise whatever he wanted to do as head of the government.
While Burnham had been trained in law in England, he fulfilled VS Naipaul’s assessment of Caribbean leaders as “Mimic Men”, who merely aped the forms of British institutions and never inculcated their substance. Every leader of the PNC who succeeded Burnham has inherited this attitude to a lesser or greater extent. Desmond Hoyte, who was already formed before he fell into Burnham’s orbit might have strained at the bit but he has been mocked by every PNC leader who succeeded him.
David Granger was chosen by Burnham as a callow youth out of high school when he, along with others, were sent to Mons to be trained to form the nucleus of his new army. This would be “moulded” in his image after he disbanded the ethnically balanced Special services Unit (SSU) that was already formed by the departing Governor. From the beginning of his career, then, David Granger was taught to disjuncture means from ends and that the ends – in Burnham’s case, absolute power – always justified the means.
Even though Granger was present as that philosophy led Guyana down the road to ruination and destruction after independence, he has never wavered from the Burnhamite Machiavellian position of power. He admitted publicly that he had always “been PNC” and that he was personally committing to fulfilling the legacy of Burnham. He even vacated him home to facilitate the work of the “Burnham Foundation” under Vincent Alexander, which promulgates the cynical philosophy of Burnham.
It is no wonder then, that when David Granger assumed leadership of the PNC in elections, his colleague Aubrey Norton accused him of rigging the internal party elections against Carl Greenidge, amidst gunfire. It was a vintage Burnham performance. It is also no wonder that as we approach our 54th Independence Anniversary, our country is mired in one of the longest elections the world has ever seen, in which Granger is desperately holding on to power via a blatant and massive rigging. Granger is truly fulfilling Burnham’s legacy which was marked by his rigging of elections in 1968, 1973, 1980 and 1985.
Granger has imitated his idol’s penchant for retaining legal fig leaves to cover their shenanigans to remain in power. In the end, it is more than likely that he will refuse to go along with any results that show the PNC losing at the polls. As in the past, if Guyana is to be spared from violence, the international community must intervene by utilising techniques that are now accepted international norms to ensure that the Guyanese people’s right to choose their government is not trampled once again by the PNC.
Personalised sanctions must be imposed.