The performance of President David Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change Government has thus far been disappointing, to say the least. From every standpoint, it appears as though he does not have full control of his Government, and is satisfied with the abysmal failure of his ministers in several areas, as is demonstrated by his silence whenever gross violations and corrupt practices are exposed in the media.
This is most unfortunate, given the fact that Mr Granger, since 2010, appeared positioned to be the kind of political leader who would cause a revolution in politics and deliver the Guyanese people from the bondage of ethnic divisions, corruption and vengeful politics. He branded himself as a politician who believed in the principles of discipline, good governance, national unity and equality.
Mr Granger also committed himself to upholding the rule of law on countless occasions during his 2011 and 2015 elections’ campaigns. He said he wanted positive economic and social change for the Republic, explaining that only his coalition of parties knew what was lacking and what was necessary to remedy the problems that had paralyzed Guyana’s growth and development in many respects.
But after two years in office, President Granger is yet to confirm to any of the principles he boasted about on the campaign trail. For the most part, he appears to be a weak leader who is hiding behinds the gates of the Ministry of the Presidency, and his carefully orchestrated TV programmes and public appearances. He is also been viewed by the populace as a President who is performing the role of a traditional Head of State, and not an Executive actively managing the day-to-day affairs of the country so that the promises in the APNU/AFC’s elections manifesto could be realized.
In short, it is State Minister Joseph Harmon who appears to be doing the work and exerting more than enough influence over the Cabinet. He appears to be the person who is running the Government, calling the shots and advising the President what to do in many respects. Mr Harmon even appears to be more powerful than the coalition’s ‘paper’ Prime Minister. The State Minister is also doing most of the damage control whenever he meets the media weekly to address the concerns which would have been dominating the public’s agenda as a result of ministerial incompetence, a lack of policy coordination, ineffective policy implementation, and poor performance.
The President, from his very few public utterances, is not concerned about the billions of dollars wasted and squandered on the D’Urban Park Project, or the millions of dollars being lost by the business community because his Minister of Finance is waiting for the economy to “right itself”. Mr Granger is not sympathetic to increased taxation of Guyana’s poor and vulnerable and the imposition of a tax on private education. He is also demonstrating indifference to the plight of this country’s sugar workers and rice farmers because he continues to keep the incompetent Agriculture Minister Noel Holder in his cabinet.
Mr Granger is also unmoved by the public protestation against his Junior Education Minister, Nicolette Henry, and his boastful Attorney General Basil Williams. After years on the job, neither of the two can get it right. There are too many scandals surrounding them, and it has recently been alleged that Williams continues his distasteful behaviour by threatening a High Court Judge. Before that, Henry could not distinguish between Phagwah and Diwali.
The President is also deaf to the cries of the public about the inability of his Public Security Minister to understand the ineffectiveness of his 2:00am curfew and failed crime-fighting policies. It is beyond rational thinking, too, that the President, who has a fetish for commissions of inquiry headed by former military officials, could not see the need for one into the corruption taking place at the Ministry of Public Health in regard to its procurement of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
While the coalition Government’s PR machinery is in overdrive as they seek to keep Mr Granger out of the limelight whenever these scandals erupt, the public will only lose more confidence in his leadership of the country. The truth is that they elected him directly and he is solely responsible for the failings of his Ministers. If they fail, he fails. If they perform well, he is performing well. He cannot disassociate himself from the actions of his cabinet. His hands are not clean. He is not ignorant of their shortcomings or incompetence. He simply refuses to act and refuses to make meaningful change within his cabinet and Government because he lacks the political masculinity and internal support from the die-hard PNC cabal to do so.
Mr Granger must create a new legacy for himself. He must cease allowing himself to be governed, and begin to govern. He must reshuffle his cabinet. Jordan, Williams, Lawrence, Bulkan, Ramjattan, Henry and Holder must go.