During the protests against President David Granger on September 19, 2019, at the Pegasus Hotel, he was visibly shaken up when some concerned Guyanese inside the hall called out his government’s illegality after the constitutional timeline for elections expired the day before.
While the protesters voiced their concerns within the hall and the Police intervened, Mr Granger posed with feet crossed, one hand akimbo and the other on the rostrum to wait out the period until they left.
That pose has since gone viral and his supporters labelled it as him being unbothered by the proceedings. Others saw it as him being clearly shell-shocked by the incident. Whatever the view, the label of being unbothered seems apt for various reasons.
At a recent rally in Linden, he re-enacted the pose, and from all reports, it sent his supporters into a frenzy. That seems to demonstrate their love for his unbothered disposition. He, himself, appears to latch on to it. It suggests, among other things, him being unbothered by the fact that the Government became unconstitutional after September 18.
The day after, leading members of the international community issued an official statement alluding to that unconstitutionality. Subsequently, other international bodies did likewise. That’s aside from the Opposition and civil society organisations here in Guyana. All were common in their calls: an unconstitutional Government and the need for an election date to be named.
With pressure brought to bear, he eventually, after the first attempt to not be definitive, named the election date. Subsequently, and again only after mountain pressure, he followed up with the requisite proclamation.
From his actions since December 21, 2018, it appears he is totally unbothered by the expiration of the constitutional election timeline and its unavoidable consequences to both the country and people. Guyana is now with an unconstitutional Government.
This situation may have its genesis in Mr Granger’s interpretation of the law; seemingly in a manner that conflicts with the Constitution. He seems unbothered by accusations of him deliberately misinterpreting the Constitution to drive a believed agenda.
That snowballed and created situations where the Constitution and an order from the country’s highest court of arbitration were fragrantly disregarded, seemingly to extend his government’s stay in office. That’s clearly demonstrative of an open defiance of the rule of law to which Mr Granger appears to be— again, by his actions and the marketing of his pose— unbothered.
Him being unbothered has caused much bother for Guyanese as they are faced with a situation in which the President and his Government, having taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, openly disrespect it.
In reflecting on APNU/AFC’s tenure in office, unmistakably, it would reveal many other things Mr Granger and his administration seemed unbothered about. Giving his Ministers a 50% pay hike while claiming a lack of funds to increase salaries for public servants, the firing of hundreds of Indigenous Guyanese, forcing thousands of sugar workers out of their jobs by closing estates without exploring alternative employment and then withholding their severance pay, were just a few cases he and APNU/AFC seemed unbothered about.
The closing of the estates has created devastating and humiliating social impacts on thousands of families. Mr Granger’s government’s implementation of some two hundred new tax measures has brought untold sufferings on the backs of ordinary Guyanese. His seeming uninspiring economic policies have led to a drastic slowing down of a once vibrant and growing economy.
That economic slowdown has led to the closure of a number of businesses, forcing many workers into unemployment. There is now increasing frequency of power outages— an average of eight per day as stated by the electricity company. The disruption to production and productivity and the unbearable inconvenience it foists upon Guyanese, is inconceivable, as is the constant disruption to traffic resulting from City streets being barricaded to insulate Mr Granger from any semblance of protest action.
Recently, spring tides and overtopping caused numerous communities along the coast to flood. The heavy loss to residents and farmers is still being determined. Almost immediately, the Leader of the Opposition and other members of his party were seen present in many of those communities in an effort to assess, comfort, and assist those affected.
To date, the President is yet to visit any of those areas. With unrelenting crime that leads to fatalities in some instances, Guyanese live in constant fear. These scenarios show clearly who is unbothered and who really cares.
It’s very possible that Mr Granger will re-enact his unbothered pose to energise his base during this election period. In doing so, since he hasn’t distanced himself from his supporters’ take on the pose, he stands to further confirm the growing belief of him, and his now unconstitutional government, being unbothered by the concerns of the citizens.
Unfortunately, he is not alone, for Caricom, up to this point, appears similarly unbothered by the situation here. Their silence speaks volumes as Mr Granger’s pose.