PPP’s manifest destiny and the death of power-sharing – By Dr. David Hinds

PPP’s manifest destiny and the death of power-sharing

Dr. David Hinds

Dr. David Hinds

Hinds’Sight – By Dr. David Hinds – November 1, 2015

THE strike by GAWU this past week is instructive. It has nothing to do with industrial concerns; it couldn’t. The new government has done everything to assure sugar workers. It has continued to subsidise the ailing industry. It has not treated workers of its own constituency half as nicely, yet GAWU called a strike ostensibly to protest the delay in wage talks. The PPP has made clear its intention to crucify this government, and it intends to use its influence in the sugar and rice industries to fulfil this objective.

For me, this strike is another nail in the coffin of the much-anticipated power-sharing Government of National Unity

The coming to power of the new APNU+ AFC government reinvigorated hope that Guyana could be closer to achieving the desired goal of a national power-sharing government. The coalition, like the APNU at the previous election, campaigned on a platform of national unity and the realisation of a government that reflected that unity. The very coalition itself represents the ideal of national unity, bringing together six different parties under one big umbrella. But, of course, there can be no real national unity government without the PPP.

Shortly after taking office, the coalition government signalled that it was ready to invite the PPP to begin talks towards such a government. The government also set up a constitutional reform working group, which I am sure has power-sharing at the top of its agenda. A few weeks later, the government went even further by naming a negotiating team led by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.

This latter announcement was followed by a flurry of discussions in the media. Many welcomed the government’s move, and reiterated the potential of a power-sharing government for facilitating a shared national purpose. There were, of course, the power-sharing skeptics who argued for the retention of the status quo. The PPP, for its part, showed no enthusiasm for the initiative. It merely said it would not negotiate with Nagamootoo, and repeated its old mantra of trust before power-sharing.

Not surprisingly, we have since not heard anything on the matter. My view is that, despite the best efforts by the coalition, we are not likely to see any meaningful movement towards power-sharing under the present PPP.

Power-sharing is dead for now; the PPP’s leadership is too consumed with power, both as a means to privilege and as a pre-ordained end. For the PPP leaders, holding governmental power in Guyana is a manifest destiny, a god- given right, which is of course the antithesis of power-sharing. That is why it cannot come to grips with the fact that it lost two successive elections.

The PPP’s notion of manifest destiny arises from a twin world-view. First, it assumes an unchangeable Indian- Guyanese political solidarity, which has been borne out by actual political behaviour election after election. That that behaviour was slightly altered at the last two elections means very little to the PPP leaders, who have read it as a minor exception. It is for that reason that the party is singularly focused on correcting that exception in time for the next election. There is no room for power- sharing in such a scenario.

The second aspect of the PPP’s world- view is the belief that PNC governance is synonymous with Indian-Guyanese extermination. Put in its larger ethnic context, Indian-Guyanese survival is best guaranteed by denial of political power to African- Guyanese. Equating the PNC’s 28-year tenure to Indian-Guyanese horror, the prediction during the recent campaign of doomsday, replete with Indian blood running in the Demerara River if the coalition won the election and early charges of ethnic cleansing of Indian- Guyanese by the new government, forms the gist of the narrative that justifies this belief system.

If one examines the PPP’s attitude over the years, one sees a clear pattern of the party becoming serious about power-sharing only when its hold on power is seriously challenged, or when it has felt that the door to absolute power is tightly shut. In the 1960s, it invited the PNC to share power only when it became clear in 1963 that its end was near. It had, just two years before, when it felt comfortable in power, rejected Kwayana’s joint-premiership proposal.

Again, in 1997, it was prepared to accept power-sharing when mass demonstrations made the country ungovernable and seriously threatened its hold on power. Its 1977 and 1985 movements towards power-sharing with the PNC were both driven by a realisation that the PNC’s authoritarian lock on government had virtually closed the door to the PPP’s coming to power via manifest destiny.

Today, the PPP, despite losing two elections because enough Indian- Guyanese voted against it, still feels invincible. It feels that Indian- Guyanese could never abandon the PPP out of conviction; they were either complacent or misled at the last two elections. Hence the party is not in trouble; all it has to do is win back the errant voters.

Jagdeo was the first PPP maximum leader to openly say to Indian-Guyanese that the PPP is theirs. That was meant more as a statement to the younger generation, some of whom may not take the “party is the race” gospel literally.

It is against this background that I have concluded that, barring some major maladjustment in our politics, power-sharing is dead for the time being. The PPP would have to be clobbered at the next election. Indian-Guyanese would have to vote against it in droves before it considers sharing power. And the risk is that, should that happen, the APNU+AFC would feel so strong that it also may not see the need for power- sharing anymore.

Knowingly or unknowingly, the PPP is killing the prospect of a true Guyanese political nationalism.

(More of Dr. Hinds’ writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website http://www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to dhinds6106@aol.com)
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  • De castro  On 11/06/2015 at 4:03 am

    New kids on block have 5 years to turn things around.
    Student exchanges with neighbouring countries should be encouraged if not promoted initiated…..Guyana has more to offer foreign students than any other. English as a language.
    in studies. Guyana government must capitalise on its strengths. Unity in the minds and hearts of the next two generations. Education education education.
    In UK students can obtain an MBA without attending a university….via internet….the technology is available use it.
    Cultural exchanges of students way forward.
    Social media is also another source of enlightenment
    for our future generations.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/08/2015 at 2:39 am

    EL Sistema – Viva Música Venezuela —

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