Are those who did not support the PPP now second-class voter? – Eusi Kwayana

Are those who did not support the PPP now second-class voters? – Eusi Kwayana letter

June 7, 2012 | BY KNEWS |
Dear Editor:

Coming from me, this letter and the opinions in it may surprise many because of my 41-year stand-off with the People’s National Congress.  Yet it would be irresponsible for me to remain silent when I see the PNC making statements that open the way from their side for progress in Guyana.

Normally, I submit my letters to the press to a small circle for advice and information. Always, I alone am responsible for what I write. In this case, they will see this letter only after I have sent it to the press. I want no one else to be blamed, if there is blame.

It was humiliating to hear a United Nations specialist chide members of Guyana’s parliament for failing to use the present situation after the November 28, 2011 elections to create healthy governance and serve the Guyanese people. 

To its credit, the AFC expressed disappointment when the new President in addressing Parliament did not move to set up a government of National Unity. Then, surprisingly, the Attorney General moved to the courts to argue for “proportionality” in membership of some key committees, based on seats in the Assembly.

Mr. Hughes of the AFC publicly raised the issue of “proportionality” in the Cabinet on the basis of the election results.

Now, seizing the chance of the 46th anniversary of Independence, the PNCR, the largest unit of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), has made some important statements in its own right. Here they are, the statements, word for word:
“While, by their votes last November, the people of Guyana appear to be ready to usher in this vitally necessary new democratic culture, the Executive Government has so far shown little enthusiasm to move in this direction and continues to behave as though nothing has changed.”
And again:
“Our Party is confident that if as a nation we can build a truly, inclusive political culture in which all stakeholders are allowed to play a meaningful role and which can create an enabling environment for the orderly development of the nation, we can look forward to a future that is politically successful, economically self-sustaining and culturally rewarding.”

These statements need very little interpretation. I am sure the other units of the Partnership, a term happily borrowed from Trinidad and Tobago, are members with the same objective in view.

The PPP/C’s wise Prime Minister is likely to respond wisely to the PNCR with a call for an apology.

pology can rightfully arise from the findings of an investigation of the past, best authorized by a national government. I would only state that the PNC in 1992 conceded a fair election and a fair count and paid the political price. That was more than a verbal apology. It also joined with others in the National Assembly to authorise an independent investigation into the “death” of Dr Walter Rodney, the word “assassination” to reasonable people being likely to convey a pre-judgment.

hile Rodney would be central, along with Teekah, Ohene and Dublin, as well as Shaw, such an inquiry can have wider scope. Those here in Guyana and in Trinidad who have made accusations of ethnic cleansing in the 1960s may take heart and join the call. Apology is always welcome. Change of behaviour is even more welcome. Redress and reparation are best.

Since the November general elections, the new President has tried to respond to the results not by an election petition, but by the dramatic claim that the opposition rigged the elections. Being very generous, he had some talks with the riggers. He explained that he did not make the alleged rigging an issue, as he wanted to avoid violence. Perhaps for the same reason he avoided the courts, only to go there seeking a majority on two sectoral committees.

The issue of a National Government, even if it does not achieve full unity, has two compelling elements that nothing can replace.

The Preamble of our Constitution commits us to find a system of governance that allows “broad-based participation in national decision making.”
I agree with the Preamble. That is a logical meaning of how the total electoral vote. The Preamble does not compel it but advises it. Justice Keith Massiah in another issue once handed down a signal judgment giving teeth to constitutional declarations about “participation”. The ruling PNC government amended the constitution to put the Court’s decision “out of action.”

The second point relates to the control of public funds.

By what kind of common sense can the side with 32 seats of 65 seats seize and control all the ministries? Most replies to my arguments begin and end with one word, “Partition.” When President Ramotar appointed all the ministers under article 103 (2) was he fully advised on the meaning of his powers?

Under that article, he had the power and duty to appoint as ministers from among elected members of the National Assembly, or persons qualified to be elected. There was nothing then, and there is nothing now, to compel him to appoint all the ministers from his own list. The PPP/C list.

I can argue that the President did not even wait to see who all the elected members of the National Assembly were. In fact he staged a coup and appointed all the ministers from his own list! He did this at a time when he should not have acted, and against the spirit of the Constitution and his oath of office.

Common sense then shows that the same constitution that allows a minority candidate to become president under first past the post rules does the balancing act. It allows the same minority president to win back his moral self-respect. How? By choosing ministers from all three lists to do what the Constitution requires him to do, choose from among all members.

Eusi Kwayana

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Comments

  • guyaneseonline  On 06/13/2012 at 1:38 am

    The Following comment appeared in the Guyana Chronicle:

    Hoyte’s democratic exit cannot equal apology for PNC sins
    Written by VASSAN RAMRACHA
    Monday, 11 June 2012 22:29 Letter to Guyana Chronicle

    LET us understand clearly what Mr. Eusi Kwayana means in pushing his revealing suggestion that ” Hoyte exiting political power is apology enough.” In his letter to KN of 6-7-12 titled “all those who did not support the PPP now second-class voters?” Even as it is a fearsome re-awakening of what lies ahead, it should have some profound lessons for all. One may inquire who were the beneficiaries of the apology when the PPP gave up power in 1964 at a free and fair elections to the PNC/UF coalition? Presumably those who actively participated in the 1960s riots and mayhem against the Jagan PPP government and the massacre of Indians at Wismar or PPP supporters who then became “third class citizens for 28 years? The elevated, Portuguese-based UF in coalition with the PNC were obviously a special class and they paid the price in their complete exodus from Guyana. A lesson for those now in APNU?

    In Mr. Kwayana’s sarcastic riposte to Prime Minister Sam Hinds, he derisively claims “the PPP/C’s wise Prime Minister (he means the opposite) is likely to respond wisely to the PNCR with a call for an apology. Apology can rightfully arise from the findings of an investigation of the past, best authorised by a national government. I would only state that the PNC in 1992 conceded a fair election and a fair count and paid the political price. That was more than a verbal apology.”

    What makes Mr. Kwayana more ominous is his reborn alliance seemingly speaking on behalf of the PNC from which he was expelled for racism as PNC General Secretary by Mr. Forbes Burnham.
    Mr. Kwayana cannot seriously believe that the black-based PNC giving up power democratically makes “all now forgiven no apology necessary” for 28 years of PNC crimes, economic mismanagement, the Guyanese exodus and the assassination of the legendary Dr Walter Rodney and others.

    Mr. Kwayana is absolutely wrong and out of touch. Someone or leaders must be held accountable. Mr. Kwayana’s exhortations would have more credibility and actually be more analgesic if South Africa’s example of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) were emulated. White South Africans giving up political power was never acceptable to blacks in it but rather only became palatable when their tormentors appeared before the TRC and all confessed their sins. It explains why blacks felt empowered to forgive white South Africans and vice versa. Why not the same for Guyana?

    If Mr. Kwayana actually believes this new depravity contains any justifiable credibility, it is unfortunate that he has now wrapped a noose around his neck and jumped off the gallows. Following his logic, White slave traders who captured and enslaved blacks for hundreds of years must henceforth get the same forgiveness from black people. Why?
    Because most of the white colonial rulers have after all relinquished political power over their former slaves and possessions.
    Emulated similarly by President Hoyte’s giving up political control But doing so democratically.

    In fact, it was these same former white slave owners and descendants who imposed the same PNC on Guyana in 1964 in preference to the well known rebellious, Indian-based PPP. Mr. Kwayana even kept a vigil outside the governor’s house to achieve his goal. Neither Mr. Kwayana nor the PNC can proudly acknowledge any beneficence from our former slave owners for such an imposition a la Hoyte.
    Like forgiveness. Neither is any forgiveness.
    Due to former slave owners because they sold entire villages to their freed slaves who nevertheless found money to buy land inspired by the fact that they never paid them.

    What Mr. Kwayana has seemingly accomplished is to effectively demolish any judicious claim for any compensation, reparations or entitlements by All black people worldwide because of his nonsensical logic for political power. President Desmond Hoyte giving up power by democratic means cannot equate to an adequate apology and confession of the PNC’s 28-year destruction of Guyana. Such a Kwayana non-brainer is a flagrant denial and fails to acknowledge that it was George Bush (senior) U.S. President) who wanted democracy to prevail in Guyana, and which made a significant (?) difference. Contrast this new development where President Desi Bouterse was put on trial for political crimes, but Suriname legislators granted him amnesty in April, 2012.

    Until Guyana can move on to a more calmer political civility with its past effectively put to rest, it is very difficult to embark on a peace road which South Africa has pioneered.

  • needybad4u - Leonard Dabydeen  On 06/13/2012 at 3:35 pm

    And PEACE is a long time from coming. Cry or burn as much as we want to . If not WHY, then ask WHEN will we see a plural society come together.

  • Sybil  On 06/13/2012 at 9:13 pm

    I have just returned from South Africa and Black people will tell you that very little was done to improve their lives. In short, their is a quiet peace but life in the townships are still the same. The “Truth and Reconcilation” made more people angry than did peace.

  • DMITRI ALLICOCK  On 06/14/2012 at 1:41 am

    Today, “June 13 marks 32 years” to date since the tragic death of 38 year old Dr. Walter Rodney in Georgetown by a bomb, which also maimed his younger brother Donald.
    Our dear and brilliant son of Guyana died near his birth place and childhood neighborhood on Bent Street, Georgetown.
    In a very sad way Walter Rodney’s short life and death has come to symbolize the pain and destruction which befall and has plagued Guyana since the early 60’s.
    The jostle for “might and power “would drag a once beautiful and peaceful Guyana into that tragic abyss; making Guyana the very worst example of the English speaking Caribbean.
    The resulting deteriorating quality and respect for life would see a continuing exodus of hundreds of thousands of Guyanese over the years to every possible country around the globe and a declining population of Guyana.
    Blame or finger pointing have almost no productive or meaningful purpose today. I like the suggestion of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” of South Africa. Yet, I am afraid that the unforgiving and primitive world of Guyana’s politics would hardly permit such a forum.
    32 long years has passed since Walter Rodney’s death and we are still having difficulties defining what really happened on that fateful night.
    It is very clear he didn’t commit suicide nor had an accident.
    One word comes to mind as the sun set on this day of remembrance is the word “atonement”.
    Far too much pain and politics for this tiny nation called Guyana. Let the new day be filled with the spirit of forgiveness. Let this special day serve as impetus for the restoration of civility and respect for Guyana and its people.
    Let the spirit of the forever young and inspirational Water Rodney be treasured by making “hope” more than just a mere word.
    God bless.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 06/14/2012 at 4:06 pm

    I believe that some form of reconciliation is needed before there can be real change in Guyana.

  • guyaneseonline  On 06/14/2012 at 4:39 pm

    Editor’s note : This letter appeared in Stabroek Newson June 12.

    Kwayana has equated the preamble to the constitution with its main contents

    Posted By Stabroek staff On June 12, 2012 Letters |

    Dear Editor,

    In a letter to SN on June 5 titled ‘The preamble to the Guyana constitution commits us to finding a system of governance which permits a “broad-based participation in national decision making”’ Mr Eusi Kwayana again advances an irresponsible demand for political power. Mr Kwayana is yet to embrace a workable federalism which accommodates the best course for all to decide their own futures united within a single country. What has fundamentally changed is not Mr Kwayana’s goals but his repackaging of this quest for political power by the PNC recalibrated within APNU. Could all this new wisdom now validate Dr Jagan’s PPP secret talks with the PNC in the 1980s?

    It was Mr Ravi Dev’s seminal analysis “for a future peace” in his weekly column in the KN of June 10 which now preempts future prolonged acrimonious bickering to resolve this race standoff. What can be more exciting than Mr Dev’s refreshingly reassuring wisdom wherein he highlights that “in this narrative both ‘sides’ are morally right; the conflict is not between good and evil but between (the available now desirable) ‘goods’ on which each is making exclusive claim. Isn’t this the situation that our mutually exclusive narratives of victimhood with its facile binary oppositions have delivered us into? Such an emplotment within a narrative, I am suggesting, should suggest compromise rather than a battle of one side overcoming. That would be a constructive narrative for our time, place and circumstances.” Federalism must therefore effectively give each side the right to create more of their own entitlement and “goods” answering the hope of each being free at last.

    If Mr Kwayana still offers the promise of a binding resolution in resorting to the 1980 Guyana constitution which is indeed the highest law of the land, it may be a good compromise step. In quoting the preamble, Mr Kwayana is actually equating it to the main body of its contents. Reliance on the preamble can hardly be the knockout punch with which Mr Kwayana hopes to convince his critics about the strength of his case. He can do better.

    ‘The tail of the elephant is not the entire elephant.’ In Mr Kwayana’s reliance on the preamble of Guyana’s constitution he needs to avoid grasping and hoisting himself and baggage with the elephant’s trunk onto its back to go for a ride. Mr Kwayana has long been aware that neither the trunk nor tusks at the front of the elephant make up the entire elephant. Often most rapid vehicles find them with their trunks in the rear. Now that he has positioned himself to frontally face the elephant he must keep in mind the behaviours and challenges of Guyana’s elephant(s). Our Guyana elephants are not easy to manage.

    Yours faithfully,
    Sultan Mohamed

  • guyaneseonline  On 06/14/2012 at 6:08 pm

    June 13, 2012. Kaieteur News: Letters
    Dear Editor,

    Mr. Sultan Mohamed in comments on my letter associates me with a certain mindset, ”What can fundamentally reassure mindsets which have historically cultivated abhorrence to seemingly being governed by those of another “undeserving” race and their culture but still demands accommodating flip flop parity with the same alleged undesirables within a national government other than a right to be free?”(June 11, 2012). He tries to give the impression that this opine from me. He should see Mr. Ramracha’s description of those he referred to in his letter of 10th February, 2011 in a Guyana newspaper. My comment was that Indians also had stereotypes but I would not list them.(Dayclean Global)
    This letter is an attempt to reply to the very wide ranging comments of Mr. Sultan Mohamed’s letter of June 11, 2012. I seem to have done something to a small inspired group. His letter repeated some false comments on my early life. I first heard the story of how I grew up from a Trinidadian, Mr. Vassan Ramracha’s letter of October 3, 2010. He alleged that I made “daily visits to the homes of three Indian Buxtonians who he was unable to defend and protect contrary to Dr Hinds…”
    In spite of a correction in a letter from a member of one of the families, who felt that his honour as senior public servant, Mr. Ramraccha stuck to his story of my alleged daily visits to the families. The three families were all Hindus. There were Christian and Muslim Indian families in the village. Isn’t that an early sign of partitioning? In the opinion of the investigators of my youth, I did not visit others. What kind of debate is this? And with all these visits on hand I had no space to visit African villagers, it seems. I wonder why.
    He added that an Indian family had sustained my mother’s household.
    I have no information to offer on my early life. That is for my friends. What these know-alls have written so far is not just to show off snatches of facts they picked up. Since they know everybody’s business let them carry on. I have no interest in what Mr. Mohamed ate at the age of 7 or 17, or who his good friends, if any, were.
    Mr. Sultan Mohamed’s letter appeared on June 11, 2012. It contained the following expansion of my life story:
    “Only a small circle knew that Pandit Persaud and his father Pandit Latchman Persaud were very financially generous in times of need to Mr. Kwayana and his extended King family ” All right readers. You now know what hand to mouth people we were. This interest comes from an old way of dealing with petty disagreements. “That man used to eat at our house.” It is nothing more and nothing less they have accused me of.
    Mr. Sultan Mohamed spends some time explaining how various Hindus use their scriptures. This is because he wants to tell me about the Elephant and its body. He likens the trunk of the elephant to the Preamble to the Constitution. Wonderful! He adopts a line of argument claiming that it comes from Sam Persaud,” The tail of the elephant is not the whole elephant.” This is the “knock out punch.” And it is quite true.
    Turning to my letter about the Preamble to the Constitution he says that I ought to know that the trunk and the tusks of the elephant do not make up the whole elephant. Lat me quite from my letter:”The Preamble does not compel it, but advises it.”
    I enjoyed the reference to the elephant. The Preamble leads on to the Constitution. The trunk leads on to the elephant.
    I Goggled “Elephant’s Trunk.” Among many statements I found this. ”The elephant’s trunk is the most versatile and useful appendage on the planet.”
    I found that the elephant uses the nose in its trunk to understand its surroundings. It can be called a kind of guide. This is all I claim for the Preamble.
    It is not the main part of the Constitution. There can be a Constitution without a Preamble, but if one is there, it serves as a guide like the elephant’s trunk.
    I give notice that I shall ignore other gossip, and discuss the 2001 Preamble and a few informed opinions on preambles, in general.
    Yours respectfully,
    Eusi Kwayana .

  • Sybil  On 06/18/2012 at 9:59 pm

    Come on now guys, this argument about the Preamble of Guyana’s Constitution is getting way out of line. Indeed, if it was that easy to fix Guyana’s problems then we would not be here bickering with each other so foolishly. Furthermore, this constitution is the legacy of our colonial past and should be “tweeked” to represent our cultural ambitions.

    First, why should the Preamble in Guyana’s Constitution create so much fury among a group of intellects? This is an opportune time for those who truly love Guyana to work with an opposition in control, to help fix the wrongs that have crippled the structure of this beautiful Nation.

    Second, it is the misunderstanding of this Preamble that is the source of the confusion in the Guyana political structure. In fact, this dialogue is truly an ‘eyeopener’ of why those entrusted with the law in Guyana have wantonly misused and abused the system. I have not studied constitional law and am not a lawyer in any sense, but know not to break the law. However, from what I have read in this blog I do understand Mr. Kings’s support of the APNU. King may not have been an advocate for Burnham but to support the APNU at this juncture is a very wise move. In fact, this man is paying attention to the MESSAGE the APNU is bringing to this conversation. This kind of discussion is needed if Guyana has any chance of moving foward in a positive way. Far too long Guyanese have been focused on RACE and NURSING OLD GRUDGES and as a result, Guyana is left entrenched in racial hatred, GREED and a sense of entitlement.

    In fact, we cannot live in the past forever because life is not eternity and if we truly want to see progress in Guyana then we should take a page from the history of the USA. In as much as as racial strive has not been eradicated, at least we get along and the constitution has been the law of the land. However, we have seen this very same argument about the constitution played out in our nation’s Capital between the Democrats and Republicans, concerning President Obama’s “tweeking” of the U.S Constitution. Because of this bold move by the President, health care, immigration, enviromental to name a few, are now being debated by the supreme courts before they become law. Guyanese need to stop talking about Preamble

    Besides, these constitutional laws were written and created by ‘old white men” of a different era, who never experienced the world we live in today. So, to continue living by every letter of their written law, has manifested in these “lopsided” debates we are having today.

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/20/2012 at 2:42 am

    Mr. Eusi Kwayana. is today considered an elderly statesman. He has survived many a tumultuous event in the body politic of his beloved Guyana. In 1955-1956 his decision was to walk out of the one PPP and called it a day. He walked with Martin Carter and the great Forbes into the formation of the PNC in 1957. He is a Foundation member and was the Secty General of the PNC for a while. He is only one of the few founding fathers of both the PPP and PNC. If any one can attempt to bring the healing to the people all over the land is this Cultural and political ICON called EUSI KWAYANA. Preamble of the current Constitution was written by Sir Shridath Sony Ramphal for and on behalf of LFSB. Shridath was at the same time employed by the now defunct West Indian Federation to write the Constitution for the said Federation when Dr. Eric Williams of Trinidad told the Jamaican PM, Manley that 1 from 10 leaves Zero. That was 50 years ago and that was the end of the Federation. Ha! Ha! this is how leaders in the WI conduct business and so the Preamble is left without a Constitution.

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/20/2012 at 3:06 am

    Shridath Ramphal, recently delivered the Prestigious lecture in Memory of the Late Dr. Eric Eustace Williams at the Central Bank Auditorium in Port of Spain. He admitted being a part of the failed West Indian Federation and was in charge of writing the Constitution for this failed entity that never really got off the ground. He went on the become the Attorney General of Guyana in 1965 when he was engaged to write the Independent Guyana Constitution and later gave Forbes a Presidential model of a Constitution that he desired. Shridath left the Government of Guyana to become the Secretary General of the British Commonwealth for a period of 3 years initially then it was renewed for another 3 years. Forbes died in 1985 and Hoyte ruled until 1992 when he demitted office to Jagan after the intervention of John Carter, US President. He ruled until his death in 1997. Sony Ramphal never made it again to Guyana although he became the Vice Chancellor of the UWI, a Regional and Academic Institution, the Politics and perception that the entire Guyana Government of guyana held for him since 1992 to today ensured that Sir S S Ramphal remains on the fringes of Caribbean Politics but never again a place in the Annals of the Guyanese Politics. Why? It is only this Constitutional Expert who was a one time AG in Grenada also in 1962-1964 can answer. Guyana still loves you Sony.

  • Sybil  On 06/20/2012 at 4:03 am

    Let us understand, that the Preamble is the KEY for determining and understanding the Constitution. Regardless of when and who were involved with the writing of the Constitution, it is important to remember that the opening words in both the Preamble and the Constitution emphases the words “We the People”. In other words, the PEOPLE are giving POWER to the government, not the government having power over the people.

    So, when Mr. King talked about broad-based participation, decision making in order to develop a viable economy based on democratic values, he was truly quoting the words inbedded in the Constitution. This elder stateman is reminding those of us,(less we forget), that at this present moment in Guyana’s history the Constitution is being violated by the Government. “We the People” are being violated because as heirs to a rich heritage, our fundamental rights are willfully trampled upon.

    Now, If there is not a Constitution then what? Because unlike the Preamble, the Constitution has a direct impact upon its people.

    In fact, since the Dutch rule of 1792, Guyana has been privy to changes to its Constitution in 1966, 1980, and 1995. So, for Guyana not to have a Constitution is news at this time. In any event, the United States of America had a Constitution without a Preamble. However, that was written later because of the purpose it served.

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/20/2012 at 7:43 am

    Madam, Preamble or no preamble, the Constitution is sancrosanct and no one having taken the Oath of Public Office has any right or rights to violate the letter and spirit of any Constitution. Gone are the days of Party Paramountcy. Egomaniacy, Cynicysm and Political Cronism. The present executive is awaiting on the decision of the Judicial arm of the Constitution to give its judgement on the Budget cuts. In many Civilized Nations there are Conventions that guide the Political and Judicial Systems in the Country and of course many even opt for an Unwritten Constitution!

  • Sybil  On 06/20/2012 at 8:31 pm

    Mr. Balkaran, I will disagree with you on the Constitution being sacrosanct, because it is not a holy doctrine and no power is coming from God, like in the Bible. This is a legal dogma with rules and guidelines that MUST be followed by those elected to serve “WE, THE PEOPLE”. On the other hand, I take your point on the present Executive awaiting a decision by the Judicary on budget talks.

    In any event, this is the Constitution at work and what is being established here, is ‘due process’. Further, this is where the Preamble serves its purpose because even though it is not a legal doctrine, it help legal scholars understand the Constitution. In fact, it serves as a guideline and you know, that anything that has to do with the law, has to clear-cut and does ruffle some feathers.

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