The PNC, which has hegemonic control of the APNUAFC Coalition, seems to always have a problem with mathematics. This is a historical problem.
In the general elections of 1968, 1973 and 1985, the PNC claimed over 60 % of the votes when everyone knew that these were rigged elections.
The 1978 referendum which was boycotted, most tellingly exposed the PNC, with empty streets and polling stations; nevertheless the PNC recorded 80% turn out at the polls and unabashedly gave themselves 2 more years in office to introduce a new constitution.
More recently the PNC-led government went all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice to try to prove that 34 is the majority of 65 elected members of the National Assembly; their mathematical gymnastics failed and Guyana was made a laughing stock in the entire Caribbean region.
More recently, no less than the President stated that there were “200,000 incorrect entries” on the voters’ lists , the “list was corrupted and needed to be sanitized”, hence the need for a new National House to House Registration and a new national identification card.
No evidence or even “anecdotal stories”, to quote Minister Felix vis a vis the Haitian smuggling ring, were tendered to enlighten the population.
Where did this figure of “200,000” come from? How did the President come up with this figure? No one knows but again the PNC like a magician with his magic wand conjured up 200,000 – another example of “PNC maths” at work.
The fact that the Chief Elections Officer of the GECOM, when questioned by the media recently reference this astounding figure, disavowed that he had advised President Granger that the list was “bloated” with approximately 200,000 extra names. Lowenfield cited that the 200,000 figure is speculative. Understandable maybe, as how could he describe the voters’ list he oversaw for the 2015 general elections, as well as the voters’ list for 2016 and 2018 Local Government Elections be “bloated”? “Bloated”, he admitted,“was not a word he would affix to it”. Only a few months before he had described the same list as “clean and credible.”
If one takes the “PNC maths” seriously then let us examine this proposition by the President. The list of Guyanese registered for the last General and Regional Elections in 2015 was 570,708. This election put the PNC-led APNUAFC Coalition in office, a list that it did not complain about then. If you reduced that List of 570,708 by Granger’s 200,000 you end up with 370,708 voters. This 370,708 is less than the number of people who actually voted at the 2015 General and Regional Elections; a total of 412,012 Guyanese voted at the 2015 Elections.
The 2018 voters’ list has 633,155 eligible voters. If one subtracts Mr. Granger’s 200,000, there are 433, 155 voters, a mere 21,143 voters more than in 2015.So is this how the PNC intends to disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters presently on the voters’ list? There is no doubt in my mind that this is the plan.
Now we have the “numbers game” with the House to House Registration, and again like the man with the “chic chic” board, the aim is to deliberately confuse and distract the audience.
First, we have the announcement by GECOM that 20,000 people were registered at the end of Day 2, July 22, 2019.
Then GECOM announced on July 31, 2019 that 69,547 were registered in the first 11 days.
Next the Department of Information on August 4, 2019 announced that 108, 814 were registered by August 2, 2019. When the PRO of GECOM was asked to verify this she is quoted in the media as saying that “as of the weekend (August 3-4) it was 70,000 so it should be around 100,000.”
Clearly the race is on; the GECOM secretariat is rushing to prove that this exercise can be done in 3 months, by October 20, 2019.
However, no one believes that 108, 814 persons over the age of 14 have been so far registered. The fact that GECOM has not provided any data on the numbers registered by region or by the 29 Registration Offices only increases the suspicion. The fact that the CEO issued instructions to the Registration Officers to not give the permanent PPP/C scrutineers access to that information is also suspect.
The 2008 national house to house registration exercise was done in six months, January 7, 2008 to July 4, 2008. 430,745 persons were registered 14 years old and above; 33,000 were not registered as they did not have birth certificates at the time. General and regional elections were held in December 2011 after at least four continuous registration cycles and a claims and objections period.
In the 2008 house to house registration exercise an average of 2,393 persons were registered per day; in 2019 GECOM would have us believe that 7,254 were on average registered per day in the first 15 days. GECOM knows that this is not accurate.
Readers may need to be reminded that on June 14, 2007, the Government of Guyana, GECOM and all of the existing Parliamentary Political Parties agreed to the conduct of the 2008 House-to-House Registration. The agreement which was signed by the GOG, PPP/C, PNCR-1G, AFC, GAP-ROAR, and the United Force (TUF) stated as follows:-
“That, prior to the holding of the forthcoming Local Government elections, a national 2007 House-to-House Registration, of all eligible registrants aged 14 years and over, will be undertaken by GECOM and this will constitute the country’s new National Register of Registrants NRR)….
That all of the abovementioned Parties agree that the procedure of Continuous Registration will, thereafter, be used by the Guyana Elections Commission to update the NRR, on an ongoing basis, to ensure that a Voters’ List could be readily extracted for the holding of future elections.”
The 2008 house to house registration exercise was called the “Mother of All Registrations’ that would provide a new National Register of Registrants Data Base and ensure that GECOM with statutory continuous registration cycles would be in a state of readiness to hold elections at any time.
Over the last eight months, GECOM has refused to prepare for elections; this is the first time that elections have not been held within 90 days as required by the constitution. In actual fact, it is GECOM during this period that has been an integral part of the subversion of constitutional rule in our country.
How can GECOM complete this exercise in half the time that it took to do so in the 2008 registration and with a larger population base now? This becomes even more dubious when one remembers what Vincent Alexander, one of the three government- appointed members on GECOM told the media on February 11, 2019 that “July 2019 and February 2020 are the two dates Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will consider for the hosting of General and Regional Elections.” According to Alexander, “…if claims and objections begin soon then you can host elections in July. If House to House registration is done, then elections would be February 2020…” Even Attorney Marcus, SC, for GECOM told the CCJ on July 1, 2019 that the house to house exercise would end on December 25, 2019!
What made GECOM in June this year half the time for the house to house exercise when it had projected in its work plan dated February 25th 2019, two months after the No confidence motion, that the House to House exercise would take from June 2nd to December 18, 2019, a total of 199 days or 6 months and 16 days? Now that the exercise started one month and 18 days later means that the date would most likely be pushed to early February 2020. Add to that the other consequential processes such data verification, cross matching of fingerprints, the production of a Preliminary Voters Lists, then a Claims and Objection period, followed by the production of the Official List of Electors, and you could very well be holding elections well into mid-2020.
This is a travesty unheard of in any democratic or democratic aspiring nation.
But no matter how GECOM rushes, skips people’s houses and threatens people with being locked up if they do not register, it cannot escape the timeline of article 106 (7) of the Guyana Constitution and the CCJ June 18th ruling and July 12th consequential orders.
Make no bones about it, September 18th 2019 will come and the government will be illegal. It cannot remain in office in defiance of the Constitution and the Caribbean Court of Justice.
But there are 2 options that can prevent Guyana from becoming a pariah state;-
i) If the Court rules on August 14, 2019 that the House to House exercise must be halted, elections preparations start immediately and elections be held as close as possible to the September 18th deadline; OR,
ii) The Guyana Elections Commission decides to halt the House to House exercise by mid-August; within 10 days commence a three week Claims and Objections period using the November 2018 voters’ list, elections could be held as soon as early mid-October.
Both options would knowingly be past the September 18th deadline but not too distant.
However, it is highly unlikely that the Granger caretaker government will deviate from its plan to remain in office for another year following the No Confidence Motion.
The PNC-led APNUAFC government is obsessed, and has been since 2015, when they won with only a hair breath of 4,000 odd votes, despite the largest ever turnout of their supporters. This pre-occupation has become more entrenched after their loss at the 2016 Local Government Elections, and, even more worrying after the 2018 Local Government Elections when it lost its mandate to govern. The PNC’s objective is to ensure that the voters’ list guarantees their victory, or, as they call it a ‘credible election.” This can only be done with padding the list with people not eligible to be voters and disenfranchising thousands who are entitled to vote, and the House to House exercise allows for these objectives to be met.
The PNC predictably is also counting on threats of violence, veiled and overt, by its leaders, as per Basil Williams recently at the American Chamber of Commerce’s panel discussion. We have experienced all of this already; in 2015 when the PPPC was calling on GECOM to do a recount, the APNUAFC Coalition threatened that results had to be announced urgently or they would burn down Georgetown. GECOM capitulated. The PNC once again is counting on the use of fear and threats as it did in the 1992, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2015 elections to suppress their opponents, and intimidate the middle roaders, sections of the middle class, foreigner investors and the international community, into compliance.
But once again, the PNC has the maths wrong—
–June 18 + 3 months= September 18th 2019; the government is illegal
– House to house registration + 3 months = a flawed list; the government is illegal
– Elections in December= the government is illegal
– 633,155 voters + claims and objections= APNUAFC out of government
Whichever way it chooses the APNUAFC Coalition caretaker government’s days are numbered.