The PNC is in real danger of descending from a major to a small political party

The overdue PNC and AFC congresses are now scheduled for the end of June 2024. It means that by the end of June 2024, all the major political parties in Parliament would have held their congresses, since the PPP just completed its party congress in May.
All the political parties have had delayed congresses, and one would hope that such congresses would return to being regular scheduled events in the future. But while the PPP’s 32nd Congress in early May was a resounding success, demonstrating what many people concluded sometime now: that the PPP is at a level of unprecedented growth; the Congresses of the PNC and the AFC come at a time when both parties are fighting a kind of survival battle.
Today’s Ruminations highlight the PNC’s struggle. We will deal with AFC another time, other than to say that the AFC is genuinely fighting to survive as a viable political party, one that can win a seat in Parliament. For the PNC, with open fights and internal allegations of rigging of party elections already evident; with many senior PNC activists either being pushed to the periphery or voluntarily choosing to be outsiders; the struggle is whether that party can retain its base support and remain a major political party; a party with a chance — even if it is an outside chance — of ever winning a free-and-fair election.
In 1964, it failed to win, and took Government through machinations of the colonial powers. In the 1968, 1973, 1980, and 1985 general elections and the 1978 referendum, there is global recognition of rigging to maintain and consolidate power. In all the post-independence free-and-fair elections: in 1992, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2020, it lost resoundingly. In 2015, even though the PPP conceded, there was evidence of hanky-panky that led to the PNC-led APNU/AFC’s election victory.
But there is no question that, since October 5, 1957, the PNC has been a major political force. It remained so, and always with an outside chance of winning an election, because it has played the race card, holding on by hook-or-crook to the Afro-Guyanese overwhelming support. Its dependence on rigging to win an election could never diminish the fact that the PNC was a major political party, one that had to be taken seriously. The question today, in 2024, is whether the PNC is still a major political force in the same way that Burnham’s PNC, Hoyte’s PNC, Corbin’s PNC, and even Granger’s PNC were.
The answer comes directly from the present leader of the PNC. He confessed last week that the PNC has lost significant parts of its base, a part that it has always treated as a divine bestowal. For the PNC, Afro-Guyanese are properties of the PNC. That today, Afro-Guyanese, in a significant shift, have turned over support to the PPP is a betrayal.
The Leader of the PNC, Aubrey Norton, clearly the most clueless of political leaders the PNC or any political party has ever put forward, accused first the PPP of buying over the support of Afro-Guyanese, and second, Afro-Guyanese of selling their souls. The leader of the PNC has even accused businesses which in the old days were in opposition to the PPP of selling their souls to the PPP.
PNC members have even called on the little support they can count on still to boycott Afro-Guyanese businesses that accommodate the presence of the President of Guyana, HE Dr. Irfaan Ali. The party today has postponed a previously scheduled congress because it admitted it lacked financing, accusing businesses of being bribed by the PPP.
The 32nd PPP Congress demonstrated, without a shadow of a doubt, that the PPP has become a big umbrella where a significant number of Afro-Guyanese and mixed-race Guyanese find a home. Already, the PPP is the party where most Indo-Guyanese and most Amerindian-Guyanese find a home. Already, most businesses find policies of the PPP to be more empowering to them than those of the PNC. Already, the working class knows that the PPP is best for the working class.
For Norton, he justifies the loss of support on the fact that Afro-Guyanese were bribed by the PPP. This is his way of explaining the loss of support. He cannot begin to accept that this fall in the fortunes of the PNC is based on five things – the inept, uncaring, and disastrous time in government between 2015 and 2020; the shamelessness of their clumsy attempt to thief the 2020 elections; the exposure since 2020 that the party has no valid policy alternatives to the PPP government under Dr. Irfaan Ali and Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, the PPP’s General Secretary; the fact that Aubrey Norton is the most clueless leader the PNC has ever had; and the PPP Government proving to be one of the most successful governments ever in Caricom’s history.
As Aubrey Norton leads his party to Congress at the end of June, he has not found in himself the capacity to apologise to those who have faithfully supported the PNC and kept the PNC as a major political party of his “dissing” them by accusing them of being “house slaves”, of being bribed, of selling their souls, and even not supporting the boycotting of Afro-Guyanese businesses that showed respect for the President of Guyana. But those who constituted a reliable support base for the PNC since its birth in 1957, who have stood loyal through thick-and-thin, have decided there is no future in the PNC.
President Ali’s ONE GUYANA platform reignited Cheddi Jagan’s 1953 movement: when Guyanese, regardless of race, united to ensure Guyana took its place in Caricom as the natural leader and bread-basket. Few would have imagined, when the PPP lost power and when the PNC-led APNU/AFC took power in 2015, that we would have reached this stage in 2024. For this reason, the PPP approaches elections in 2025 with a chance of winning a record-breaking victory in 2025.