The 2020 elections campaign continues to unveil the unbridled hypocrisy on the part of the APNU/AFC coalition Government. Of course, this is in the context of what it would have condemned while in Opposition, as against what it is now practising in government.
Immediately upon taking office, following the 2015 General and Regional Elections, the APNU/AFC Government appointed a politician to head the then Government Information Agency (GINA). That person was prominent on the coalition’s list of candidates for those elections.
That appointment was in total contradiction to what APNU/AFC said it would not have done. Prior, it accused GINA of spewing propaganda for the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) Government, and went as far as to cut budgetary allocations for the Agency in the successive years the coalition held a one-seat combined parliamentary majority under the Donald Ramotar Presidency. In addition, the coalition also cut the budget for the National Communications Network (NCN) for the same reason during that period.
For emphasis, after about a year or two in government, APNU/AFC replaced its appointed head of GINA with another and more combative politician. A politician was also at the helm of the state newspaper under the coalition for a period of time.
The hypocrisy could not have been clearer: Having accused the PPPC of politicising the state media, and using that as a reason to deny budgetary allocations, the APNU/AFC Government is the one that officially politicised the state media through the political appointments mentioned.
The purpose was also clear. The head of the state’s official information arm embarked incessantly on public tirades, attacking the PPPC and its current General Secretary. Taxpayers’ money was used to pay for the broadcast of such tirades. In addition, that office is reportedly being used to promote the party the head in question supports.
A cursory glance at the state’s newspaper in its current form could easily suggest that it is a replacement of the People’s National Congress’s official publication, the New Nation. For some time now, the state newspaper has defied criticisms to ensure that coverage relating to APNU/AFC is captured in green and yellow, the coalition’s official colours. Over time, that type of coverage has further increased in favour of the coalition.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. NCN carried at least an hour of coverage of the APNU/AFC’s 2020 elections campaign launch on January 03 this year. It did not reciprocate for the PPPC two days after. Instead, its head derived reasons for not doing so; reasons that have since been deemed ludicrous.
What those incidents show is the glaring departure from what the coalition once condemned while in opposition to what it is now unashamedly practising in Government. It appears that the thought of budgetary cuts to the state media has not been in APNU/AFC’s consideration since 2015. Interestingly, reports suggest that funding to those entities was increased under the coalition’s tenure.
Very noticeable since the no-confidence motion was passed on December 21, 2018, coverage in the state media became increasingly biased in favour of the APNU/AFC Government.
President David Granger, whilst Leader of the Opposition, was vociferous in his condemnation of GINA, accusing that and other state media entities of being biased against his party. Today, as President, he seems not to have found it necessary to even address criticisms of the unambiguous bias of the state media against the current PPPC Opposition.
In Opposition, he condemned the use of taxpayers’ dollars to fund what he described as state media propaganda. Today, he seems to have no qualms that even more taxpayers’ monies are being blatantly used to spew propaganda and divisiveness in the state media. Such glaring and unbridled hypocrisy has not only led to a wanton loss of confidence in the APNU/AFC, but a dissipation of trust, making it virtually impossible to believe what it communicates to the populace.
The question of trust is not just confined to the hypocritical stance on the state media, but on many other issues, including corruption, good governance, and the safeguarding of democracy. On all three counts, while in the Opposition, APNU/AFC vilified the PPPC Government with untold accusations. In doing so, it pledged to rid the nation of such undesirable traits.
The reality is that, under its tenure in government, corruption is deemed to be rife and unimaginable, with an absence of transparency. The damming reports of the Auditor General may serve to vindicate the numerous accusations of corruption levelled against the APNU/AFC Government. With regard to its pledge to uphold democracy, a seeming mockery was made.
The most basic tenet of respecting the Constitution was not observed. That disregard was exemplified by the coalition’s response to the NCM, and the President’s unilateral appointment of the immediate past Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECIM). In addition, Guyanese continue to lament the APNU/AFC’s inability to deliver on its 2015 elections campaign promises.
The general citizenry, including supporters of APNU/AFC, are convinced they were duped by the coalition, as trust has been replaced by hypocrisy. Among other things, state media coverage today exposes the extent of that hypocrisy.