The shape of things to come – commentary

The shape of things to come

 Stabroek News staff On May 13, 2012  Editorial |

On Friday the Guyana Human Rights Association described the PPP/C as being in denial over the November 28 election results. There is probably no more pithy way of putting it; the protest drama, the barrage of propaganda about the budget cuts, the meetings across the country and the contrived arguments, are all evidence that the government believes it is being denied its ‘right’ to the exercise of untrammelled power. It deeply resents the combined opposition’s one-seat majority in the legislature, the implications of which it appears incapable of accepting.

This psychological block was probably responsible in the first instance for the extraordinary claim made by the President that the PNCR had rigged the elections; it supplied the first indication that a mental barrier was preventing the penetration of reality into the party consciousness. If the election was fraudulent, then the PPP/C could claim the right to continue as it had always done, and as such it prepared the budget as though it were in possession of an overall majority. It then moved on to its stratagem of splitting the opposition and dealing with APNU alone, a stratagem which it has not yet abandoned, although more recently it has been attempted through a surrogate in the form of the Private Sector Commission, some of whose executives are not above behaving as if they represent the government, rather than the business community.   

Apart from that, as mentioned above, there has been the bizarre shepherding of public servants out onto the streets to protest cuts which are directed not against them, but against the highly paid contract workers who are undermining the public service as a whole. Then there is the even more aberrant clamour from the state media about being denied freedom of expression – something which they themselves, it might be noted, could never be accused of according anyone whose views do not reflect received opinion from Freedom House or OP. For all their efforts, it is likely that city dwellers, and possibly those along the coast too, looked on this public pantomime with a cynical eye, since they are closer to events and have a grasp of what obtains, but no doubt the PPP/C’s forays into the interior have received a better hearing, because the Amerindians are removed from everyday politics and do not have access to a variety of information sources or opinions.

The question is, however, what is the ultimate purpose of all of this effort and expenditure? What do they hope to achieve by it, and how will it assist them in the governance of the country? The short answer is, of course, it won’t. The only rational explanation would seem to be that they have decided to call a snap election and they are preparing the ground in advance. It has been suggested by the AFC that all the references to a snap election on the part of the governing party are merely a bluff, but if that is so, it still leaves open the question of what on earth they are doing. Certainly, budget cuts or no, an election at this stage would seem to be a high-risk enterprise, unless Freedom House’s estrangement from reality is more complete than even their most militant critics suspected. And in any case, even if, for the sake of argument, the President were to call an election now, it certainly isn’t going to come off in the next few months for a whole variety of reasons. And in the meantime, what would they be proposing to do? This nation cannot live in a state of a perpetual general election campaign; some governing would have to go on, and automatically at the level of the legislature that would involve the opposition.

One cannot help but feel that the governing party has no idea what it is doing at the moment, or what it should be doing in the circumstances. Its state of denial, as the GHRA has called it, means that it cannot wrap its mind around what its options are for proceeding. No one knows what its policies will be, or if it has any, and if it does, how it proposes to move forward with those given its minority status in Parliament. The PPP/C came into office in early December 2011 after being in government for nineteen years, and up to this point almost six months later, it has not outlined its vision for the nation, or, as mentioned earlier, its programme for the next five years. The only thing the public is hearing is its denigration of the opposition, who are the only ones at the moment who give the appearance of having some kind of parliamentary agenda.  This lack of coherence, lack of direction and general confusion on the part of the PPP/C about what its intentions should be, would not be the kind of record likely to win over voters in the event that a snap election is indeed what is lurking at the back of its collective mind.

What Freedom House does not know, any more than does APNU or the AFC, is whether the November 28th election was just a blip on Guyana’s political screen, or whether it represents the beginning of a radical shift in our politics. If it is the latter, then the party’s absolutist style of government is not just passé – which in terms of other democracies it has been for a very long time – but will be rejected by the electorate consistently in the future.  Even if the last election was a temporary blip, the odds are that as an increasing number of younger voters come onto the electoral roll in the future, it will be recognized as a harbinger of longer-term change. In other words, while theoretically, the PPP/C may be able to return to an overall majority the next time around, they will not be able to sustain that majority for any lengthy period; time is against them.

Groups which have enjoyed varying degrees of absolute power relinquish their grip on it with the greatest reluctance, and are invariably the last to recognize that the ground has shifted beneath them. Before the government and the ruling party can concentrate their minds on how to function in this new environment, they first have to accept that there is a new environment. They have too to recognize that in some form or another, this is the shape of the future, and that even if it is interrupted by an interlude of an overall majority, that is merely a temporary phenomenon.

There are now two loci of power: the Office of the President and the Parliament. Negotiating the way forward will not be easy, but negotiation is the name of the game. For the sake of the nation, the government should stop the circus, and sit down and work out its policy agenda. After that, it needs to try its hand at a bit of consultation, discussion and compromise. It is the shape of things to come.

— Post #1400

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  • William Ramnarace  On 05/14/2012 at 8:28 am

    Let me tell you sir, what the problem is.

    1.No Government can function satisfactorily if it is a minority Government, and having an obstructive Opposition….that opposes everyting unless it is something that they liked.

    2. The policies of the Government were listed in the Party’s manifesto that it founght the elction with…..that was the direction this Government wanted to follow.

    3. The Budget outlined the expenditure route in line with its manifesto…that it will pursue.

    4. The Dumb Witted Opposition used its one (1) seat majority to slash $50 Billion
    off this Budget………what reaction do you want in your article?

    5. The Government would be damned right to call a SNAP ELECTION earlier than later……..limping along….begging the opposition….be answerable to the opposition….an opposition that wants to sanction everything….believing that they are the government……………who do you think is in denial?


    7. My friend….rather than fan the flames of discord….would it not be better that you be pragmatic…do not follow the ‘blame game’ talk to your friends in the opposition that they should show more maturity….grow up like responsible opposition….think not of distruction but helping to building a vibrant economy where all the people can benefit?? The Democratic machinery allowed those in office to Govern….let them Govern…but with a Responsible Opposition!!

    8. It is time for real ‘Cooperation’….in ‘The Cooperative Republic’…..don’t you think?

    • de castro 2kamptan"  On 05/14/2012 at 10:18 am

      yes minority governments usually have to compromise their “souls” to
      not unlike the UK s situ…Cameron and Clegg …con and lib…
      in politics there should only be compromise if the “electorate” demand it.
      making deals behind closed doors only leads to speculation by the “media”
      et al….
      GUYANAs politics has become a “pantomine” without the “music” !

      Pension off the “old fogies” or create a “higher house” where they can
      “talk and talk” until the cows come home….Most of the LORDS in UK
      sleep through the debates anyway ! ha ha !
      Whoever is in power must have the mandate to rule and the only way to obtain this is by the “ballot”…what we have is “stalemate” politics but the positive is that we have “peace” and hopefullly the “confidence” will follow….

      my spin entirely but firmly in agreement with wiliam ramnarace above…

      thanks for reading
      compton de castro in Andalucia Spain on his way to Milan.

      • GTRealist  On 05/15/2012 at 5:36 am

        This is an excellent editorial that sums up the situation in Guyana today , as most people see it.

        Mr. Ramnarace – It is obvious from all of your comments here and in other entries that you have made that you are deliberately distorting the facts.. I believe that you are doing your “job”, but I will not let you get away with it unanswered.

        1. The PPP is a MINORITY government and the MAJORITY of the populace have a right to demand changes, transparency and honesty in their government. The PPP will eventually be put in the dustbin – our grandfathers party is now run by a pack of NICIL thieves – race-baiting will not save them when all the dishonesty is fully exposed, and that is what they are afraid of.
        2 Here you go again – the budget cuts were not $50Billion. Maybe you are getting mixed up with the $50B that they can’t account for properly in NICIL In reality the real cuts were less than 2Billion as some $20B in the budget was for REDD Norway funds not yet received, The opposition refused to accept as a valid Budget entry as this money may not be coming soon as Norway is not pleased with how the Forestry is being handled.- see Bulkan article on this Blog
        Readers could get a factual analysis of why the budget was cut by looking at the AFC statement here –
        3. Had it not been for Burnham’s constitution with its executive presidency, the PPP would be sitting in the opposition today, if APNU and AFC formed a coalition. There are many countries governing with one man majorities in Parliament. The Constitution has to be changed to reflect the will of the majority of the voters – real democracy.
        4. The PPP is worried. There is no discord except in the PPP ranks. They are sowing the discord as they want to carry on as they did in the past with secret deals selling out Guyana for private gain. We here in Guyana know what they do every day and they are fooling no one anymore. Let them call a snap elections. They will not win a majority. So what will they do then? Pressure! Pressure!
        The end is near for those crooks. Guyana has had enough of them.
        So Mr. Ramnarace enjoy your life overseas, we will fix our own business here without racial disharmony, as we want Guyana’s resources to be for all Guyanese.
        It will all be OK in the end as these rats scurry for cover. The USA has some of them on a list. Roger Khan squealed a lot. The best is yet to come!

      • kamptan de castro  On 05/15/2012 at 10:02 am

        excellent response “honest and impartial” with a little political “bias”…. hey we all have our favorites more soin SPORT…and I accept “nationalism” in sport but please not in the “political or religious” arena…the ROMANS did this in their Colosseums…their CAESARS were very clever “politicians” usually a “live or die” situation was always in favour of the majority spectators…regardless of outcome !

        The RATS in GUYANAs politics will have to live in the GUTTERS
        but they will be contained …am sure as night follows day,
        Our world has changed and we must change or we “DIE”
        The change will come from “within” influenced by what happens

        forever the optimist

        thanks for your “forum” of change.

        compton de castro Andalucia España last bastion of the moorish conquerors before the other religious fanatics extradited them.

      • William Ramnarace  On 05/15/2012 at 3:29 pm

        Mr De Castro.

        One thing I agree with you is this ……’Rats in Guyana Politics will have to live in the Gutters’.

        Would you agree with me that most politicians are liars , cheats, uncaring, self-centred bigots……………they lie to the people….they cheat on honesty….care more for their image and less for others..they will not change even if they are wrong.

        Now……in Guyana all political parties have politicians who fit squarely in this mix….don’t you agree?…..PNC….PPP…AFC..and all the others…

        To help these people…..the Constitution of Guyana gave them a machinery called Democracy to decide who should form the Government with these mix of people…..providing checks and balances in the process.

        These people have a term to serve as the rightful Government. The Opposition is there to criticise….oppose…or support that Government.

        This is where the problem lies…..are the opposition opposing any and everything..are they supporting this Government… are they a responsible bunch…who at a time of crisis will put aside personal or party lines and unite to uplift an ailing country and its people?

        I do not care what complexion of people runs the country….but they must do so in the interest of the people…all the people….all the time.

        What frustrates me is this ball game….win at all costs…keep the ball in your court….give away no balls………forgetting that basic ingredient….it is not who win or loose….but how you play the game that matters!! Politicians in Guyana have not changed over the years….they have the same bias…prejuidices…dishonesty……be they Afro, Indians, Portuguese, Amerindians, etc…..They all have to learn….take note from Mandela and Ghandi….

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 05/16/2012 at 7:26 am

    It is the need of the hour for Politicians to demonstrate more clearly their true allegiance. Either they must serve their constituents as the promised to do under Oath of Allegiances or they transform themselves overnight and become the true servants of the people who elected them. The greed syndrome is a powerful one and the trappings of political office often make one blind so the service attitude often disappears and a new demonish kind of Ego takes the place. There can be no further explanation why Politicians do not become Statesmen but rather their bruised EGOS propel them into a state of demonish behaviour. Hitler was also considered mad. The other dictators in the region could not handle political power and so they also failed their countrymen. The road to success in this dark age of lack political vision and wisdom is to continue the dialogue and have consensus among the honorable people who are chosen to negotiate for and behalf of Government. It will never be an easy task. Good Governance means that we must humble ourselves and see the humanity in each other lest we remain Political animals and lose the opportunity to become Statesmen and women. The New World Order demands immediate changes from within the Politicians themselves as they make the laws to govern civil Society everywhere and in every democracy in this Global Village! Think it over folks before offering yourselves for Public Offices!

    • compton de castro  On 05/16/2012 at 9:17 am

      I thank you for your critique but obviously your “heart” is in its rightful place….you love your country of birth….
      we all do !
      the senario is simple
      When you have POLITICIANS as the victims in a society usually the change that follows is “drastic” “evolutionary” even “revolutionary”….
      when the populace gets “FED UP” the change will happen….
      politically GUYANA is in the “fast lane” for change !
      I remain optimistic….!
      BUT caution here it must come from WITHIN…not by outside intervention !

      Look what is happening in SYRIA …what mankind will inflict on mankind to remain in “power” ! Turn guns on their own people…it is madness ! yet the ROW spectates …

      I remain optimistic and once again thank you for your response

      yes GHANDI MANDELLA were leaders who lived before their time but their “fight” changed the world.

      FIGHT ON BROTHER !.yes we may not win the battle but certainly we will the war….my WAR is on poverty !

    • compton de castro  On 05/16/2012 at 1:05 pm

      an excellent response cyril….
      PUBLIC servants are exactly that my friend….to serve the public
      and if they think they cannot serve them ..let them think again.
      many senior politicians have resigned for the same reason….they feel they can no longer serve the people or their party…
      they resign as a matter of “principle”…
      however principles can be compromised but “integrety” should “never” be compromised….
      also some have to be “pushed” by the media…thats politricks…
      In UK we have a situ where the media is very powerful
      with the politicians paying more atention to their popularity
      rating in their “decision” making
      than what their gut feeling tells them…their integrity
      is compromised.
      Also it does not help with
      “coalition” governments….sometimes however its best if nothing gets done….as sooner or later “confidence” in their policies become questioned…and the “MEDIA” have their feast !

      hey I am forever the optimist seldom the “pacifist” more the “activist”
      thanks for your exchanges…

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