At the beginning of the month, the Director-General in the Ministry of the Presidency indicated that the PNC, as the largest force in the governing coalition, had embarked on a four-stage process in preparation for the general elections. This the party’s leader, David Granger, had dragged out to March 2, 2020 in flagrant disregard of the no-confidence motion that had been passed on Dec 21, 2018.
The adumbrations of the process expose the opportunistic nature of the APNU/AFC coalition, which is focused on simply retaining power under the skirts of the PNC. The process began with the signing of “core principles” in September, which made a mockery of the word “principle”. The major “principle” – to allocate the divvying up of seats in the National Assembly and Ministries – would have been better described as “horse trading”. Another, which forbade the coalition partners from expressing opinions contrary to the “majority’s – read PNC’s – views”, effectively destroys the foundational principle of coalition government: diversity of views.
The second stage was the agreement on a revised Cummingsburg Accord between the APNU and AFC, which occurred on Christmas Eve. This could have been settled in the “core principle” on allocation of spoils mentioned above, but it became clear that the biggest carrot to the AFC – selection of the PM candidate — was proving to be a nettlesome issue. The sticking point was whether the PNC would accept the AFC’s decision to have their leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, occupy the spot, or their preferred candidate Moses Nagamootoo, dubbed as “royalty” by a high PNC official.
It appears that to most in the PNC’s hierarchy, Ramjattan, like Cassius of yore, “has a mean and hungry look”. Sources have signalled that the nod was given to Ramjattan, but conditioned on accepting a morganatic arrangement. As of this date, even though the new Acord has been signed, there has still not been a definitive announcement on the choice.
The third stage of the process was the preparation of the APNU/AFC Manifesto, which is presumably being completed now, since the final stage – the launch of their elections campaign – is on January 3rd. Rather intriguingly, in light of the uncertainty over their PM slot, the launch’s publicity posters have only PNC leader David Granger’s picture.
With their eyes firmly fixed on the oil revenues which will start flowing into Guyana’s coffers right after the elections, David Granger has declared that their fourth stage, their manifesto, will focus on a “Decade of Development”. This will be undergirded by policies and programmes in twelve broad fields: constitutional reform; good governance; economic growth and development; education improvement; energy sector; environmental protection; indigenous peoples; infrastructural development; international relations; social protection and social cohesion; security and human safety; women, gender equality and youth.
It is said that the past is a prolegomena to the future, and while the PNC would want us to forget about its abysmal record on executing the promises made in its manifesto that got it elected in 2015 – the “Decade of Development”, after all, begins in 2020 – it should give us an inkling on how seriously we should consider the promises in the new manifesto.
That document began with the Cummingsburg Accord between the APNU and AFC. In this, the most salient promise to the citizens that voted it into office, was the promise of “Shared Executive Governance”. The entire premise of the coalition as the answer to Guyana’s ethnically fractured polity was contained in this promise, since the Presidency was going to be occupied by the PNC’s candidate, while the PM — as explained above — would be from the AFC, and would be responsible for bringing in Indian-Guyanese from outside the PNC’s traditional African-Guyanese constituency.
Among other roles, the Manifesto declared: “The PM shall have responsibility for Domestic Affairs and Chairing Cabinet…and Domestic Security”. But immediately upon assuming office, David Granger said, “Ooops! The Constitution does not permit this!”
If the PNC would lie to their partner that delivered victory, why even elaborate on their other broken promises to the electorate?