Development gains in spite of opposition’s no-confidence motion
By Dr. Prem Misir
Guyana votes in 43 days in its General and Regional Elections. The elections are a clear two-party (PPP/C and APNU-AFC coalition) race. Billed in some quarters as the mother of all elections, which for me means deepen democratic gains and continue to move Guyana forward, bringing out the vote then becomes decisive, where literally every vote counts and where each party will do its utmost to bring out all its supporters to the polls.
Guyana’s last election was on November 28, 2011, when the PPP/C won the majority of votes, but without a majority in Parliament. The Opposition APNU-AFC held a one-seat parliamentary majority, and was the de facto coalition since 2011. Over the last three years, motivated and sweetened through its slim parliamentary majority, APNU-AFC coalition exerted enormous efforts to control and shape the PPP/C Government’s agenda and ultimately to become the de facto government, but failed outrightly in these mean ambitious endeavors. And amid the experience of recurring failures to realize its parliamentary goals, the coalition’s sights were then reprogrammed to remove the PPP/C Government from office. But who would bell the cat?
During that period, the AFC, the minority component of the de facto coalition with APNU, seized the opportunity to initiate action toward achieving the prized goal of ousting the government; and at the same time, hoping that through this initiative, it could enhance its political standing with APNU and the Guyanese people. And so the AFC’s one-line no-confidence motion against the PPP/C Government saw the light of day, which reads thus: “Be it resolved that this National Assembly has no confidence in the Government.”
But what aspects of the PPP/C Government is the no-confidence against? Here is a small sample of some developmental gains in 2013: the growth rate of Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to 5.2% in 2013 from 4.8% in 2012; per capita GDP at US$3,496.3; net international reserves at the Bank of Guyana at US$751.2; inflation at 0.9%; infant mortality rate at 12.9 per 1,000 live births; almost 100% immunization against DPT, MMR, yellow fever, polio, TB (BCG); about 10 physicians per 10,000 population; about 15 nurses per 10,000 population; about 25 hospital beds per 10,000 population; 1.4% prevalence rate for HIV and AIDS for adults aged 15-49; case detection rate of Tuberculosis at 78 per 100,000 persons.
In addition, the economy in 1992 was US$300 million, now it is over US$3 billion; aggregate bank deposits are now up 15-fold, with low interest rates; and debt services today utilize less than 5% of revenue. And over the last three years, APNU-AFC cut $89 billion from the budget, inclusive of $4 billion for Amerindian development and $200 million for the University of Guyana student loan fund. In 2010, about 90% of the population had access to improved water and about 85% to improved sanitation.
Again, in 1992, about two-thirds of students did not receive regular secondary education as they were placed in secondary departments of primary schools or in community high schools; today, Guyana is in the proximity of universal secondary education. This list of developmental gains, and this is not an exhaustive list, makes nonsense of AFC’s no-confidence motion.
And so, with no substance to the motion except the hunger for personal political power, President Donald Ramotar then prorogued Parliament on November 11, 2014, dissolved it on February 28, 2015, and announced May 11, 2015 as the election date. It is remarkable that the coming elections represent the third time that the PPP as the government has had to relinquish office before the statutory due date for elections, the first time was in the 1960s, the second occasion related to the Herdmanston Accord in 2001, and now in 2015.
It should be noted, however, that the likelihood of the 10th Parliament, which arose from the 2011 elections, would have completed its full tenure was never on the cards, as the Opposition APNU-AFC coalition rejected practically everything the PPP/C Government tabled, gradually plotting its removal from office long before the 2016 due date for the next elections. And constant rejection of the Government’s business brought an alarming spate of gridlock to the point where APNU-AFC became the ‘Coalition Party of No’ and a ‘No-Nothing Coalition Party’.
On its scorecard, the PPP/C commands a considerable electoral advantage. For instance, the PPP/C has never lost General and Regional Elections in Guyana, making for a winnable probability come May 11, 2015; APNU-AFC’s excessive and far-fetched doomsday stories on Guyana do make the PPP/C the best party with the perfect message, a rarity in politics; APNU-AFC coalition’s unusually high deceptive pessimism and gloom about Guyana aid the PPP/C to forge ahead and to remain unstoppable; and there is a view out there that a vote for APNU-AFC coalition is a vote for the PNC because sections of the electorate see the charioteer of the coalition APNU as really the PNC; the PNC’s negative symbolisms and its ‘dictatorship’ track record would resonate with the people.
The no-confidence motion brings to light the true colors of the AFC and APNU, in that both had a de facto coalition since the start of the 10th Parliament with their focus firmly fixed on obstruction, that is, blocking the PPP/C Government’s agenda. The AFC’s no-confidence motion was weak because it failed to specify substantial areas of the PPP/C’s work it cannot support, as a no-confidence motion should focus on concerns with significant implications for moving a country forward; and therefore, the current no-confidence motion was insufficient as a criterion to move Guyana to the polls. The PPP/C Government did not buy it, and so it was not a factor in taking the country to the polls; the PPP/C determined its own terms for the May 11, 2015 elections. In effect, the AFC’s no-confidence motion was unnecessary. But what the no-confidence proposal did, however, is to make the PPP/C’s developmental gains a focal point, and quite rightly so, and in turn, providing an immense electoral advantage to the PPP/C.
A vote for APNU-AFC is a vote for the PNC
By Dr. Prem Misir
A vote for APNU-AFC (PNC-AFC) is a vote for the PNC. How so? The AFC has not learnt well from history. The AFC fails to acknowledge, whether intentionally or not, that the PNC’s (PNC and APNU are pretty much the same entity) track record on the notion of ‘coalition’ is one that is manipulative and despicable; indeed, with superb support from former and perhaps existing ‘imperial’ masters.
Reviewing historical records in the 1960s vis-à-vis exchange of letters (Dabydeen, 2004) between Premier of British Guiana (now Guyana) Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Leader of the PNC Mr. Forbes Burnham would substantiate this description of the PNC’s track record on the PPP offer of a PPP-PNC coalition.
Nowadays and fairly often to score cut-rate political points, the AFC component of APNU-AFC coalition proudly repeats its slogan that if the coalition for national unity was right under Premier Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s leadership in the 1960s, then it is right now. The AFC is correct in so far as Jagan wanted the PPP and the PNC to form a coalition government in the 1960s.
But the AFC is wrong in its slogan and that slogan also is misleading because the PNC leader Burnham rebuffed Jagan’s coalition plea; and so the AFC should tell the Guyanese people about the incorrectness and disingenuousness of its slogan. Dr. Jagan might have thought that it was right then, but Mr. Burnham did not share Dr. Jagan’s view on a PPP-PNC coalition, as the letter exchanges in the 1960s between the two leaders evidenced. In a parallel way to the 1960s, as the AFC today claims that APNU-AFC coalition is right, does the PNC standard bearer Mr. David Granger share the strategic ‘coalition’ views of the AFC?
In a letter to Burnham of December 11, 1962, Jagan advocated for a coalition government between the PPP and the PNC, and called on Burnham to say whether he agreed with a coalition of the two parties. Burnham in his letter of January 10, 1963 expressed an intention to resolve tensions in the country, and so invited Jagan to have exploratory and preliminary dialog at a neutral terrain. Burnham did not say in his letter whether he and his party accepted the notion of a PPP-PNC coalition.
Jagan in response on January 18, 1963 called on Burnham to say clearly whether the PNC accepted the proposal of a coalition, as he felt that Burnham’s reply was ambiguous; and if the PNC accepted the coalition proposal, Jagan intimated his intention to dialog with Burnham at the site that he (Burnham) proposed.
In another exchange on January 24, 1963, Burnham noted that his suggestion was not ambiguous and that the PNC believed that a coalition was not the only channel for reducing tensions and reaching national unity; and so, Burnham claimed that he was willing to dialog not only on the matter of coalition, but also on exploring alternative options.
Even though Burnham and the PNC dodged on the acceptance of a PPP-PNC coalition, Jagan in his note of February 26, 1963, indicated that he would still like to have dialog quickly to produce a ‘coalition’ agenda, utilizing three members from each party; for his party, Jagan proposed three persons – Ashton Chase, Ranji Chandisingh, and Moses Bhagwan. After months of waiting for the names of the PNC’s members, Jagan in a letter to Burnham on July 3, 1963 persisted in his request for the PNC’s nominees.
Burnham responded on the same day, this time shifting the goal posts. Instead of providing his nominees, Burnham called on Jagan and the PPP to adopt three proposals to end the political impasse; these were: holding a referendum to identify a new electoral system; restarting the Independence Conference in Guyana; and dissolving the legislature to have elections under a new electoral system. Burnham asked Jagan for his reactions and gave Jagan a 48-hour ultimatum for his response. In response on July 8, 1963, Jagan felt that bilateral talks as he had proposed could address these matters, but that he still did not receive Burnham’s response on his offer of a PPP-PNC coalition.
Then about a year later in a letter of June 6, 1964, Jagan proposed a PPP-PNC coalition with the following conditions, among others, as follows: PPP and PNC should each have five ministries, with the PPP Leader as Premier and the PNC Leader as Deputy Premier and that this coalition government should function until August 1965, the term of office of the then PPP Government. Burnham provided no response on this matter, as shown in Jagan’s letter of June 10, 1964.
Jagan again wrote to Burnham on June 15, 1964, where he pointed out to Burnham that in his letter of June 6, 1964 he had asked him to participate in a national government, but pleaded for Burnham’s response to that matter; Burnham then wrote to Jagan three times, on June 10, 1964 and issued two letters of the same date on June 11, 1964. None of Burnham’s three letters had a response to Jagan’s proposal for a national government. And Burnham in his note of June 16, 1964, indicated his intention to close off all communications on the matter of a national government.
Burnham’s hee-haw with Jagan’s proposal for a coalition and a national government was disingenuous, despicable and manipulative, aided and abetted by the U.S. and British Administrations of the 1960s. Burnham and the PNC had no interest in a PPP-PNC coalition or a national government in the 1960s, unless such permutations would have catapulted it into achieving total political power. And it did not need the PPP for gaining power; it had the assistance then of the U.S. and British administrations; and subsequently, assistance from the United Force which the PNC unceremoniously dumped in 1968 after illegally fortifying its own power base.
Here is an example of British and American talk of assistance to remove the PPP from office and thereby install a PNC government; based on U.S. declassified documents, the U.S. Department of State telegraphed the U.S. Embassy in London on June 21, 1963, saying, “…Our fundamental position is that the UK must not leave behind in the Western Hemisphere a country with a Communist government in control. Independence of British Guiana with government led by PPP is unacceptable to US. Our objective in London is to get HMG to take effective action to remove Jagan Government prior to Independence…”
Another example: again, based on U.S. declassified documents, on June 30, 1963, Mr. Duncan Sandys discussed with the U.S. Secretary of State the need for a Burnham-D’Aguiar government. After the December 1964 elections, the Burnham-D’Aguiar coalition emerged; the coalition was the British colonial government ploy in harmony with U.S. foreign policy, and indeed having Burnham’s total support, to do away with the Jagan Government. And so, is the APNU (PNC)-AFC coalition a situation of history repeating itself?
If history is repeating itself with all the aforementioned ramifications of the colonial period, then a vote for APNU-AFC is a vote for the PNC; if history is not repeating itself, then AFC is a mere opportunistic appendage to thrust APNU into power and not to promote national interest, and so a vote for APNU-AFC is again a vote for the PNC.
Where is the racism in Jagdeo’s address at Babu John?
By Dr. Prem Misir
The recent Babu John March event confirmed what most people already know, and that is, former President of Guyana Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo is a potent force as one of the key PPP/C campaigners. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jagdeo remains a powerful threat to the flimsy foundation of the APNU-AFC coalition. And so in an attempt to dilute Jagdeo’s impact, the coalition sought to label him a racist in his address at the recent Babu John event.
On that date, the PPP/C amassed a crowd of thousands at Babu John to commemorate the 18th death anniversary of former President of Guyana Dr. Cheddi Jagan and the 5th death anniversary of another former President Mrs. Janet Jagan. It was at this forum that Jagdeo began to unwrap the fragile foundation package of the APNU-AFC coalition in a ground-breaking speech lasting 31 minutes and 16 seconds.
On Jagdeo’s address, APNU-AFC mouthpieces accused Jagdeo of making racist remarks, a red-herring argument. What did Jagdeo say at Babu John on March 8, 2015 that seemed to have produced some orgasmic confusion about racism? Jagdeo captured the following points, among others in his address:
- During the PNC era, Jagdeo saw his father wept when the police removed the ballot boxes from Gibson Primary School where he was a student. His father cried because he had no voice in the choice of political leadership in his own country.
- Carl Greenidge as PNC’s Finance Minister from 1983-1992 painted a sordid picture of Guyana’s economic status in the 1992 budget speech; and in fact, as Minister of Finance, he presented no government audit report for 10 years between 1983 and 1992. The PPP/C Government has presented an audit report for each year since 1992.
- As a senior personnel in the Guyana Defence Force, Mr. David Granger refused to account for the record the fiasco in the removal of ballot boxes from official polling booths and in the assassination of Dr. Walter Rodney.
- If elected as President, Granger promises to have three Vice Presidents in true Burnham-style governance. And so while the opposition talked about the high cost of Jagdeo’s pension, the institution of three vice presidents and a prime minister means that the country will have to meet the costs of five public officials inclusive of the president. And amazingly, APNU-AFC peddles the notion of cutting costs.
- Over the last three years, President Ramotar must have had a nightmare, as the one-seat parliamentary majority APNU-AFC Opposition stymied everything. APNU-AFC Opposition opposed the Berbice Bridge, specialty hospital, Amaila hydropower project, rice farmers, and sugar workers (APNU-AFC even promises to close down the sugar industry).
- APNU-AFC is not the ‘change’; over the years, the nation has seen only changes in name: PNC; PNCR; PNC One Guyana; APNU; and now APNU-AFC. Its substance remains unchanged.
- The PPP/C is living the change in its transformation of the financial architecture through new approved legislations on companies; financial institutions; securities, revenue authority; procurement; insurance; a modern deeds registry; and with the Auditor-General no longer reporting to the Minister of Finance, but to Parliament.
- Results of the PPP/C Government’s changes in the financial architecture have produced these outcomes with tremendous impact for the nation: debt is now 60% of the economy when in 1992 it was 7.5 times; now < 5% of the revenue services the debt when it was 94% of the revenue in 1992; economy in 1992 was US$300 million, now it is over US$3 billion; at the Bank of Guyana, reserves in 1992 were US$100 million, now US$800 million; inflation in single digit when it used to be in triple digit; aggregate bank deposits up 15-fold, with low interest rates.
- Over the last three years, APNU-AFC cut $89 billion from the budget, inclusive of $4 billion for Amerindian development and $200 million for the University of Guyana student loan.
- APNU-AFC has commenced manipulating racism on the electorate through the ethnic count; for instance, APNU-AFC spokespersons continue to allude to the migration of a large number of Indian people, bolstered by the U.S Embassy granting of 51,000 10-year visas. And according to media reports, the AFC leadership said that it will deliver 11,000 Indians to the coalition, as if there was some ‘transport’ on these people.
- In the 2011 election campaign, there was drumming in some African Guyanese villages where opposition activists called on villagers to get out and vote the ‘coolies’ out.
Among these 11 bullet points, where is the racism in Jagdeo’s address? Prejudice and racism relate to a negative view of one group of people only due to their membership in that group; and where one ethnic group may receive unfair treatment because of its race or ethnicity.
Jagdeo said nothing about providing unfair treatment to another group on the basis of race in his address, and so APNU-AFC unfairly has referred to Jagdeo’s remarks as racist. In fact, Contributing Editor of the National Review and Senior Editor of The American Spectator Quin Hillyer made similar attacks against U.S. President Barack Obama, as outlined by M.S. in Democracy in America in the Economist on December 6, 2013.
Former President Jagdeo strongly asserted that APNU-AFC commenced race-baiting vis-à-vis ethnic count, as verified by the last two bullet points. But the immediacy and surge of the vehement opposition to Jagdeo’s address as racism could be a counter for the opposition to camouflage its own strategy of ethnic count and other forms of race-baiting.
Jagdeo merely identified the opposition’s racial activities evidenced by the media. Instead of APNU-AFC instituting corrective action to its persisting racial slurs, it marshalled its usual suspects to engage in an all-out offensive against Jagdeo, and indirectly against the PPP/C.
In Hillyer’s negative attribution to Obama and in APNU-AFC’s tirade against Jagdeo, it seems that the energy of partisanship in both cases is more geared toward worsening racial conflicts rather than exerting efforts to create a space for dialog. However, I suspect that any offensive against Jagdeo is an offensive against the PPP/C.
Prem Misir notes that:
Dr. Cheddi Jagan had this to say on the University of Guyana: “I have stressed the function of the University of Guyana to provide the skills and higher education necessary for the economic development of this country and I have alluded to its role in developing and defining values in our society. But there are two no less important consequences which we hope will flow from the activities of the University. One of these is that every child born in the remotest settlement in the interior, or in the farthest village or sugar estate should have a real opportunity to reach the highest position of the land. The highest positions in our society must no longer be the preserves of the rich and the well-born. By bringing University education within the reach of everyone, we have laid the foundation for the establishment of democracy in this country.”
This statement shows that Dr. Cheddi Jagan firmly believed that a university is inextricably linked with national development and that access to higher education should be available to all.
Prem Misir notes that:
The former President of Guyana has been a tenacious fighter for Independence; and he is among the first few to have kicked off this struggle against colonial domination. This novel idea of Independence emerged in 1945 in a Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s pamphlet titled COOPERATIVE WAY. Dr. Jagan said: “It therefore behoves the working class people to get control of government through their constitutional ballots in our forthcoming election, with a view towards complete independence. A free and independent Guiana can easily cooperate and eventually federate with her Latin neighbours, especially Brazil.”
Prem Misir notes that:
History will remember Cheddi Jagan as a world leader; who struggled for social progress among the dispossessed and the disadvantaged; who vigorously implanted progressive political thought; who was a resolute builder of political movements; who forged the political-labor nexus; who was an unwavering Caribbean integrationist; who was a true internationalist in his unrelenting promulgation of the New Global Human Order; and whose authentic local legacy has to be his tireless fight for national unity, working-class unity, and racial unity. His ideas and his indefatigable promotion of these ideas have not only redefined the Caribbean, but have impacted the world of the poor. These writings and his grassroots work have a superlative nexus with current philosophical debates, particularly in the philosophy of history and the social and behavioral sciences and with moral and political philosophy. This understanding of history sees economic, social, and political influences of human life as the most important factors shaping human experience, personality, ideas, and social arrangements.
APNU-AFC the Party of ‘No’
By Dr. Prem Misir
APNU-AFC as a coalition party is not new; it was not born on February 14, 2015; all it did on that February 14 was to make the secret public, in order to have increased populous visibility.
APNU-AFC already was a coalition party at the declaration of the 2011 General and Regional Elections’ results, and the activation of its engines of resistance for the sake of resistance against the PPP/C’s agenda began in full swing. And there is this feeling, too, that all that APNU-AFC wants is bad news for Guyana just for the sake of placing the PPP/C Government in a bad light.
Soldiering with a one-seat parliamentary majority, APNU and AFC hatched a strategy from the onset of their tenure to obstruct the PPP/C Government’s development plans, and to bring the PPP/C Government down to its knees before the due date of the next statutory elections in 2016.
This position is not difficult to surmise. Scanning APNU-AFC long-winded speeches, its poor outcomes, and its impact on the nation in the 10th Parliament would produce this conclusion. This APNU-AFC’s behavior invokes the Republican Party ugliness that U.S. President Barack Obama faced when he won a landslide in 2008, and a resistance which he still faces today. Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland asserted that the Republican Party agenda is an anti-Obama agenda. This ugliness against Obama’s agenda has transformed the Republican Party into a party of ‘NO’.
In the National Journal of October 23, 2010, then minority Republican Party Senate Leader Mitch McConnell indicated his intention to make Obama a one-term President. A Time article ‘The Party of No’, stated that the then House of Representatives Republican Party Chief Whip Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell engineered an all-out resistance to Obama, where the Republican Party used obstruction of Obama’s initiatives as a strategy to enable Obama to fail as the President.
In Obama’s first term in office and in this his ongoing second term, Republicans in both Houses of Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) have demonstrated a history of resistance to the Obama agenda. Nowadays, Republicans are resisting Obama’s Executive Order invoking new immigration rules for illegal immigrants, Obama’s negotiation with Iran, the healthcare reform, many appointees of the Obama Administration, etc. In fact, on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on January 25, 2015, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal confirmed that the Republican Party was a party of ‘NO’ and that there is now the need to replace this ‘NO’.
Would you not say that this Republican Party’s resistance against the Obama agenda has strong resonance with Guyana’s APNU-AFC’s parliamentary behavior? APNU-AFC Party’s ugliness has transformed it into a party of ‘NO’, for its agenda since the start of the 10th Parliament, definitively, has been an anti-PPP/C agenda. How so?
Concluding agreements in the National Assembly regularly became a predictable ‘NO’ against the Government. This conclusion is not hard to ‘sus’ out. The 10th Parliament was plagued with a one-seat majority opposition – APNU and AFC – armed with ambitious perceptions and wild expectations of controlling the ruling PPP/C agenda and program of activities. Indeed, the PPP/C parliamentarians rejected and defeated APNU-AFC’s stance of wanting to be the de facto executive.
In the lawlessness that passed for parliamentary proceedings in the 10th Parliament, matters of national importance lost their way through APNU-AFC’s parliamentary talking points and translation. For instance, in the PPP/C Government’s struggles to update and offer the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill to the Paris Plenary of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, at the eleventh hour, the leading Opposition Party APNU tabled amendments. APNU’s delaying tactics impeded parliamentary progress and agreement on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill.
And in its haste to oppose the PPP/C’s agenda merely for the sake of opposing, APNU-AFC’s obstruction has hurt many of the PPP/C’s capital projects. For instance, since 2011, APNU-AFC plotted budget cuts on a number of public capital investments, such as, Cheddi Jagan Airport Modernization Project, Ogle Aerodrome assistance, Civil Aviation equipment and Hinterland/Coastal Airstrips, among others, and effectively terminated the Amaila Hydropower Project. These capital projects, if successfully operational, would increase employment in Guyana.
Given this condition, APNU-AFC seems to be in coalition with international capitalist forces to further neoliberalism in Guyana. The fundamental principle governing neoliberalism is the view that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector, and that the role of government should be marginal. Under such conditions and evidenced in neoliberal health reforms in other countries, neoliberalism brings a developing trend toward greater inequality, and an increase in the gap between the rich and the poor. Through its one-seat majority in the 10th Parliament, APNU-AFC exerted efforts to marginalize the PPP/C Government and, perhaps, to promote the application of neoliberalism in Guyana’s development.
And so to the delight of the nation, the prorogation of Parliament on November 11, 2014, the announcement of the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections, and the dissolution of Parliament on February 28, 2015, ended the constant APNU-AFC’s parliamentary ramblings; which invariably had ‘NO’ as its pre-planned outcome for every major submission the PPP/C presented to Parliament. But APNU-AFC ramblings continue apace through the new opposition. Let me explain.
In addition to the established APNU-AFC opposition, there is a new opposition, inclusive of some private media houses and some parts of so-called civil society that have always been an appendix of APNU-AFC and the PNC. This new opposition now provides the medium for APNU-AFC’s purported populist speeches, chockfull of sound and thunder, but telling little or nothing, except considerable misinformation. And what is interesting about this new opposition is its daily letters, sometimes with more than one author, attacking the PPP/C Government with little more than rhetoric as evidence; what also is interesting about this new opposition is its attempt to be the spokesperson for APNU-AFC as if the APNU-AFC has no leader. And in the 10th Parliament, sometimes it was unclear as to who the leader of the opposition was as the parliamentary ramblings and battles occurred.
Then, since the one-seat majority APNU-AFC did not win any battles in the National Assembly, notwithstanding their stance as the Party of ‘No’, their winning the war on May 11 is a distinct no-no.
The May 11 election campaign
By Dr. Prem Misir
Election day is 71 days away. And currently, the people have no clue as to what platforms the contesting parties are advocating for the good of this dear land of Guyana. Indeed, some ‘sound bite’ platforms (aims and principles of a party) came to the fore at the APNU-AFC’s ‘togetherness’ event and its aftermath, but nothing resembling clearly articulated policies, programs, and projects.
This ‘platform’ void is ever present and is expanding because the opposition groupings are busy with cementing their uneasy ties like getting to know each other as in arranged marriages where the bride and bridegroom only meet for the first time on their wedding day; and where they exploit that day and the next few only to learn much as the coveted prize still has to be won!
Meanwhile, as the APNU-AFC’s ‘getting to know each other’ campaign is well underway, the newly-wedded parties are feverishly allocating ministerial and cabinet positions to all and sundry as if the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections already have come and gone. At least, the incumbent PPP/C Government has its ongoing programs earmarked for the next year or two; but unfortunately, some of these are noteworthy capital projects currently held in the opposition APNU-AFC captivity.
The message is now loud and clear that APNU-AFC is entering this election with deep-seated arrogance and omnipotence; it is really not difficult to ‘sus’ out this conclusion. The APNU-AFC’s one-seat parliamentary majority has so titillated its political power appetite and imagination that it has come to believe that only the APNU-AFC can dish out salvation to the people of this green land of Guyana.
And so, its gradual unveiled message on a poster could carry the caption ‘APNU-AFC Against Every Thing’. Of course, almost daily, there is reinforcement of this caption’s message. For instance, listening to the regular outpourings and pontifications of the sergeant-general of the APNU-AFC gives the impression that the PPP/C Government has squandered the goodwill of the people and has reduced this country to shame and disgust; and so, APNU-AFC vows to review most if not all of the PPP/C Government’s projects.
To begin with, this approach is a stretch because looking over all of this Government’s or any government’s projects will consume considerable time to the point of excess; so how then will the people see APNU-AFC’s proposed innovative programs that it so boasts about, never mind the implementation of such innovative programs and indeed, their funding sources to bring them to fruition?
APNU-AFC has a little over two months to tell the people of this great land of Guyana what its informed and innovative platforms are that will soon bring salvation to the people of this country; and merely mentioning platforms will be necessary but not sufficient because we the people must know how APNU-AFC intends to fund its proposed programs arising from the platforms and how such programs will be evaluated to determine their impact on the nation.
Another point worth mentioning is that presenting platforms and their accompaniments repeatedly may be an effective way to disseminate the message. At least, the advertising experts agree on this approach. But these advertising people may not be correct if APNU-AFC or any party has a suspect product in store for the people.
The incumbent PPP/C Government, too, will have to present platforms with their appropriate accompaniments. But the incumbent has an advantage when it comes to presenting platforms, in that there is no need for haste, due to its existing programs and projects outlined in the current national budget, many of which may be rolled over into another year; the people have access to this information and are witnesses to the outcomes and impact of many of these projects. However, notwithstanding this incumbent’s advantage, the task of presenting its platforms now has to be in a state of readiness.
And talking about incumbency, incumbents at election times do have a major advantage with huge turnouts at the polls. The incumbent PPP/C ruling party, therefore, has to work toward developing a mammoth turnout at the May 11 poll, especially with the Preliminary List of Electors at 567,125, representing an increase of 75,000 electors from year 2014.