The PPP/C: What Went Wrong? By: Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

The PPP/C: What Went Wrong?  By: Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Granger + NagamootooPhoto: David Granger (APNU) and Moses Nagamootoo (AFC). The APNU+AFC Coalition have formed the new government in Guyana.

The PPP/C separated itself from the people, according to one staunch supporter. The People’s Progressive Party was always known as a grassroots party but after 23 years in power it got too comfortable. It failed to do the legwork needed to win power and even its most ardent followers were demanding change. The Party will cite rigged elections as a cause, and there were irregularities, but the PPP/C knows that it should have done better in spite of them.

Dr. Steve Surujbally is the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic said after the May 11, 2015 elections that it did not have confidence in Dr. Surujbally and that he should resign. But Dr. Surujbally wasn’t buying it. He said, ‘I will not resign. I will resign when it pleases me. Why didn’t they call for Gocool Bodhoo, former Chairman of GECOM to resign when he gave them 33 seats instead of 32?’ 

This question speaks volumes about the state of the PPP/C and its inability to gain a majority in the recent elections. The Party can blame every Tom and Harry about its dismal performance but the blame should lie squarely at the door of the hierarchy of the PPP/C. Many feel that it has let down its supporters and with all the resources at its disposal it should not have been confined to the opposition benches.

When did the PPP/C realize that GECOM was going to be a problem? According to some analysts the Party knew since the 2011 elections that GECOM had to be reformed but did little to address it. The current leadership of the PPP/C is so shell-shocked that it has allowed the statement of Dr. Surujbally to pass without comment. For example, did Gocool ‘give them 33 seats’ in 2011 or was it the voters that turned up at the polls? If Gocool gave 33 seats then Dr. Surujbally is saying clearly that something was improper. Is he implying that he gave the Coalition 33 seats this time and so two wrongs can make a right?

Apart from incorrect Statement of Polls there are other fundamental problems with the PPP/C and it would do well to examine them if it wants to do better next time. Last October, a group of ofÞ – cials met in Georgetown, Guyana. They were from the ruling PPP/C. During the meeting the question of the elections came up. How prepared was the PPP/C for the elections? The Party was not prepared, some said. It had not done enough grassroots work.

The PPP/C at that time had failed to connect with the people where it mattered most: in the villages, that collection of hardy souls that exemplify the dreams and reality where the struggles for a better life are enacted daily. The present lot needs to learn from Cheddi Jagan, the founder of the Party. One of the strengths of Cheddi Jagan was the fact that he knew how to connect. He would hold public meetings in the countryside and tell the people about their condition, including poverty and the state of the world. His speeches were colored with numerous ‘isms’ too. There was capitalism, socialism, Marxism and of course humanism and if you were not sure which to pick at least you left thinking that Cheddi thought about you.

The PPP was in the opposition for 28 years but this did not stop Jagan from listening and connecting even though they said he had no hope of winning. Cheddi won and handed the reins to his successors and they made a mess of it. After 23 years in power the current PPP/C was unwilling or unable to make those grassroots connections that would lead to confidence and to victory. It took the people for granted. The other parties had no such problem. They were in the villages doing the groundwork necessary to convince the people to vote for them.

According to a number of persons on the West Demerara and in Berbice the opposition parties visited their villages several times and held meetings with them. Their complaints centered on a number of bread and butter issues that ranged from poor water quality to education and the price of food. ‘Each time they visited we were promised a better deal if they won. Now that they have won we expect them to deliver,’ one resident of Vergenoegen said recently.

Why would the PPP/C allow stalwarts such as Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan and Ralph Ramkarran to leave? This is a question that only the hierarchy can answer but these former members constricted the PPP/C and squeezed much of its credibility away from it. There was no closing of the ranks of disaffected PPP/C members before the election. In fact Mr. Ramkarran became one of the harshest critics of the PPP/C.

When this is contrasted with the conduct of the PNC members one finds that despite public spats the members came together and united to oust the PPP/C. For example, there were disagreements with the members in Linden with the Bynoe faction mounting a challenge to Granger for the leadership and there were even allegations of rigging at the PNC elections. But when it came time for the national elections in May 2015 the factions came together for a common purpose and that was to get the PPP/C out of office. This closing of ranks by the PNC party showed political commonsense, a quality that was lacking in the PPP/C.

The lack of shrewdness and savvy was demonstrated in the behavior of two top ministers in the PPP/C government. At the eve of the elections when best behavior was at a premium the former Attorney General Anil Nandlall was caught in ‘rice bed talk’ that did little to enhance his reputation. He was lucky not to be Þ red and while the Party was still smarting from the fallout the Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsarran was recorded disrespecting women. He was fired as a result of public pressure but which political party wants this sort of embarrassment just days before a national election? These behaviours were interpreted as inappropriate and arrogant but there were the ‘massive rallies’ to give comfort as they were in 2011.

On the day of the election, however, a good number of supporters stayed at home. One report stated that around 800 persons in Port Mourant, Berbice, did not show up at the polls. This number can hurt a party and it did in the final PPP/C tally. In politics, as in other areas of public service, the message and the messenger are of immense importance. Dr. Leslie Ramsammy stated that ‘the opposition controlled the media’ and therefore the PPP could not get its message across. What an admission from the ruling party! If a party allows itself to be outwitted and outsmarted by the opposition media, then that party deserves to lose. This is elementary Kautilya!

These are the days of the internet and all the technology that comes with it. The PPP/C had a number of newspapers, television and radio stations in Guyana that were sympathetic to its cause but we are told that it failed to mobilize them effectively to get its message out. How then will it be able to do this in 2020? The ‘Chronicle’ and government-owned media may no longer be accessible to the PPP/C in opposition.

As far as the messengers are concerned this too lacked lustre. One top functionary in the PPP/C complained that he alone had to do most of the reaching out and most of the organizing and that it was backbreaking. Where were the others? During its 23 years in power could the PPP/C rely on the loyalty of the public service? These are the men and women that carry out policy. Although it would be difficult to quantify its performance perhaps the behavior of the public servants in one Ministry could provide a guide. When they heard that the Coalition was heading towards victory the public servants of that Ministry, it is alleged, chased out the PPP/C Minister thereby preventing him from entering his office.

This brings us to corruption. You were likely to hear in Guyana, and abroad, that the ‘PPP/C government is too corrupt.’ President Donald Ramotar admitted that there was corruption and that all political parties were on committees fight it. But did this go far enough because if corruption took place persons should have been prosecuted for it.

The PPP/C needs to get back to the drawing board and to bring in fresh faces with the talent to connect with ordinary people. It won’t be easy. The Coalition has tasted power. President David Granger and his Cabinet have begun to address some of the immediate problems of the nation. In the near future the proposals of the PPP/C, including the Money Laundering Act and the Amalia Falls Project will be refashioned and passed. Can the PPP/C become an effective opposition? It is a role that will test their might and mettle.

Download PDF copy: The PPPC – What Went Wrong – By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

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Comments

  • guyaneseonline  On May 23, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Rebranding a dinosaur
    MAY 23, 2015 | BY KNEWS | COLUMNISTS, FREDDIE KISSOON

    The PPP used the word, “rebrand” in its press release after a meeting of its central committee. It announced that it intends to rebrand the party with changes to the party itself, its parliamentary existence and its representation in GECOM.
    The trouble with the statement is that, we do not know who is doing the rebranding. We do not know who spoke up at the meeting, whose voices carried weight. Only when these dimensions of that confabulation are made known can we determine if the PPP will change for the better.
    Parties transform themselves after defeat after long years in power. That is the trend in the world but one sign appears immediately when new directions are being made – new leadership is definitely a compulsory requirement. The PPP will go not an inch in a new direction and will falter, wither and die away if they do not change aging stalwarts who have long lost their humanity and staying power and who have presided over two consecutive election banishments.
    From 1992, there are PPP personnel who are still around and dominate the PPP’s hierarchy. It is commonsense to ship them out given what they have become, the wrongs they did while in power and their disastrous failure in 2011 and 2015. We can start with Clement Rohee.
    As a stalwart of the PPP, Mr. Rohee deteriorated badly over the past twenty-three years to the point, where once he opened his mouth he alienated not opposition supporters but the Guyanese people. He commanded authority inside the PPP fortress and was not subject to decisions by others; therefore, he had to remain. But over the past five to ten years, Rohee was no longer a winnable figure for the PPP.
    Next is Donald Ramotar. Mr. Ramotar is not a competent politician. He is not suitable for the leadership of one of the country’s major political organizations. Honestly, I think Mr. Ramotar has outlived his usefulness to the PPP. There is no way Ramotar can be successful in resuscitating the PPP. The leadership qualities are not there; I say honestly not even one.
    Bharrat Jagdeo does not belong to the world of politics and should be the first victim of the rebranding.
    One would hope that Kellawan Lall, Roger Luncheon, Gail Teixeira, Komal Chan, Nanda Gopaul, Manzoor Nadir, Charles Ramson Senior, Clinton Collymore, Indra Chandarpal, Pauline Sukhai, Ganga Persaud, Bheri Ramsarran, Hydar Ally, Ali Baksh and similar types are moved out. These are the central committee faces that belong to the past.
    The problem with moving these people out is that, they have to move themselves out because they are the bosses. Who is going to show them the door?
    The young second tier leadership does not have the authority to get rid of the dinosaurs and even if a few from that section have been promoted in the hierarchy the past five years, it is questionable they would be credible faces to the Guyanese people for the next five years.
    Anil Nandllal and Priya Manickchand should follow Robert Persaud and take leave from active politics. Frank Anthony has been a failure as a Minster. The dilemma for the PPP is if it honestly wants to rebrand itself, it cannot, because it does not have people to use the brush to paint over the old coats.
    After twenty-three years in power the entire PPP leadership became corrupted with absolute power. It destroyed their reason to think decently; it destroyed their ability to see people as human beings; it destroyed the inner soul of the possessor of absolute power. There were no exceptions.
    These are the people who are in the leadership of the PPP in May 2015. Who then is in the position of authority to effect the transformation? If I were a betting man, I would wager my last penny that as the weeks and months unfold, the PPP will continue to exist with the troglodytes that have been in the central committee the past million years.
    Rohee, Teixeira, Jagdeo, Ramotar and company will be around leading the PPP. And they will be their natural selves. Rohee will continue with his arrogance; Charles Ramson Senior will continue with his pomposity; Ramotar will continue to say the most comical, irrational and illogical things.
    Illness will not deter Luncheon. Komal Chan will continue to lead GAWU. Sityra Gyal will be there. So will be the man behind Anilgate.
    In the meantime, David Granger and Moses Nagamootoo will be reshaping Guyana so that by the time 2020 comes around, the PPP and its dinosaurs will be rebranded as footnotes of the past.

    • Rosaliene Bacchus  On May 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Kissoon raises valid questions about the present leadership and the future of the PPP/C. Till death do us part 😦

      • Thinker  On May 24, 2015 at 8:21 am

        Kissoon’a article is largely wishful thinking. His “analysis” is centered on known personalities. The fact is that the PPP is supported by the largest ethnic group in Guyana and a purely communal leader is never hard to find when people feel insecure. Ravi Dev or someone like that could lead the party tomorrow and retain support. All depends on how successful the coalition is and the extent to which the AFC can make or appear to make any meaningful;contribution to governance. Nagamootoo who was clearly the PPP heir apparent ever since the other Moses (Bhagwan) was kicked out failed to get the majority of PPP supporters to follow him. The only path for the PPP to go is the “apan jaat” one. Bring back Jagdeo. Forget about ideology. No one, except the old farts ever understood Scientific Socialism anyhow. If the PPP can get more of the Amerindian support they got in the recent elections they have a future despite all that Freddie imagines.

  • Thinker  On May 24, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Mr Narine’s article reads as if it could have been entitled “Why the PPP lost the Indo-Guyanese vote”. One can add that going back to the drawing board for the PPP means that crookedness needs to be stamped out.

    • Brian smith  On May 24, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      I think there is a sure way to rid the PPPC of the long list of old stalwarts that is bad for the party and bad for the country. The second tier leaders of the PPPC could call upon the current government to investigate the high levels of corruption that existed over the past 23 years. This would identify most of the top leaders, and use that as a way of weeding out the bad apples, the likes of rohee, jagdeo, ally, etc. Then and only then can the PPPC rebrand itself and become a viable force again. That’s the only way out. With those old crooks at the helm, the PPPC is doomed, and will become extinct like the dinosaurs.

  • Gigi  On May 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    When an election outcome is determined by international forces to reduce Guyana to its once improvised and violence prone status of Haiti (the Clinton Foundation is very active in maintaining Haiti’s improvised and underdeveloped status) and the majority of countries in Africa (which are witnessing a return of child soldiers that Obama was once against but now is for since they are essential to protecting America’s self-interest) that are kept that what to serve foreign interest, only then will of the people can turn the tide around. Over 70% of Americans and British are on some form of govt assistance and there are not enough middle class tax paying citizens to support these folks. So these countries need to rape and plunder the resources of weak and defenseless countries to feed their people. To do that they need friendly, corrupt, selfish and stupid governments who will let them. This is why the PPP was outed. It is not in their veins to let this happen to the Guyanese people. Hopefully, the Guyanese people will come to this realization and not allow themselves to be fooled by the idiots put in place by foreign entities.

    • Thinker  On May 24, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Gigi, you can’t be serious. Many Third World countries prefer to deal with the Chinese precisely because the latter are more prone to accept underhand deals. Have you seen the conditions of the Chinese workers at the Marriot for instance? Defend the PPP all you want but talk sense. Tell us more about the new child soldiers since you know so much about Africa.

  • Gigi  On May 24, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    @ thinker, you are seriously deluded if you think America/American govt is not and does not deal in underhand black market business. You can Goggle this info or you can read John Perkins’ ‘Confessions of a Econimic Hitman’ and Eric Schlosser’s ‘Reefer Madness’ to gain deeper understanding.

    Child labourers are not child soldiers, and yes both are equally despicable, but to compare the two as justification shows a serious flaw in judgement. I much prefer to see Guyana become one with Venezuela than one with Africa, which is where this new govt is headed. We already know that child soldiers types exist in black enclaves in Guyana. And with the US identifying Guyana’s location as ideal for drug running, it doesn’t take much imagination to deduce what resources these child soldiers will be protecting…

    See:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/weekinreview/29gett.html?pagewanted=all

    “Here, in one country after another, conflicts have morphed from idea- or cause-driven struggles to warlord-led drives whose essential goal is plunder. Because those new rebel movements are motivated and financed by crime, popular support becomes irrelevant. Those in control don’t care about hearts and minds. They see the local population as prey.[…] The result is that few adults want to have anything to do with them, and manipulating and abducting children becomes the best way to sustain the organized banditry.
    [In Uganda] the Lord’s Resistance Army degenerated into a drugged-out street gang living in the jungle with military-grade weaponry and 13-year-old brides. Its ranks are filled with boys who have been brainwashed to burn down huts and pound newborn babies to death in wooden mortars, as if they were grinding grain.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nick-turse/presidential-waivers-chil_b_7305494.html

    [On September 28, 2012] President Obama issued a statement of his own, waiving the application of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act with respect to several nations (as the act indeed allows a president to do). South Sudan was included on the grounds that such a decision was in “the national interest of the United States.” It was not, as it happens, in the interest of the children of South Sudan, not at least according to a senior United Nations official who was not authorized to speak on the record. The U.S. waiver “was doing more harm than good because there is absolutely no political will to solve the child soldier problem,” that official explained to me. […]

    “I’ll then find little comfort in President Obama’s contention that looking the other way on child soldiers is in “the national interest of the United States.” And I’m sure I’ll be just as disturbed that those “interests” — cited by a president who has his own kids — so easily trumped the interests of that boy in Malakal and the rest of South Sudan’s children.”

  • malika benjamin  On May 24, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    The ppp/c jus can’t accept the fact that they were defeated ,it is time for change n that was granted by gods grace.

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