Fair minded Guyanese of African de­scent must stand against this de­par­ture from the Carter For­mula

Stabroek News - - LETTERS -

It has not taken long for there to be the be­gin­nings of what was to be feared con­se­quent to our Pres­i­dent Granger uni­lat­er­ally ap­point­ing Jus­tice James Pat­ter­son as Chair­man of GECOM; con­tra­ven­ing our Con­sti­tu­tion in let­ter, in spirit and in the face of nearly twenty-five years of ef­fec­tive prac­tice; jet­ti­son­ing the ‘qual­i­ties’ he him­self ad­vo­cated to our Leader of the Op­po­si­tion (LOP); and reneg­ing on his ear­lier of­fer for the two sides to meet to dis­cuss modal­i­ties of go­ing for­ward if he again found dif­fi­culty in choos­ing some­one from the third list pro­vided by our LOP. Our Guyana could be head­ing to an even greater po­lar­iza­tion be­tween our two ma­jor race groups. We must not let it hap­pen. Fair minded Guyanese of African de­scent must stand against this de­par­ture from the Carter For­mula.

Such a de­vel­op­ment was long an­tic­i­pated and warned against. In his weekly col­umn, ‘Fu­ture Notes’ of Wed­nes­day 25th of Oc­to­ber, Henry Jef­frey re­views the nearly year-long road we have trod. The whole col­umn is worth read­ing and reread­ing – the quote be­low states what Jef­frey feared since the be­gin­ning of this year:

“So Pres­i­dent David Granger’s re­jec­tion of the list sub­mit­ted to him by the leader of the op­po­si­tion on the grounds that ‘none of the can­di­dates was a for­mer judge or some­one el­i­gi­ble to be ap­pointed a judge’ is patently false and it must be de­lib­er­ately so.”(SN: 18/01/2017)

“The ques­tion then arose as to what mo­ti­vated the pres­i­dent to adopt this clearly false po­si­tion and its im­pli­ca­tions for Guyana. —————— ‘If the in­ten­tion of the gov­ern­ment is to uni­lat­er­ally se­lect its own chair­per­son and it pro­ceeds along this course, it will open an en­tirely new po­lit­i­cally dis­rup­tive tra­jec­tory for Guyana’ (SN: 18/01/2017) And here we are to­day!”

How prophetic! And here we are to­day on that po­lit­i­cally dis­rup­tive tra­jec­tory for Guyana. A num­ber of Afro-Guyanese have been ex­tolling and jus­ti­fy­ing our Pres­i­dent’s ac­tions with a mis­guided and per­ni­cious racial spin. They claim that they are the de­fend­ers and pro­tec­tors of Afro-Guyanese but they are mis­taken. Para­dox­i­cally, in keep­ing Afro-Guyanese an­gry and un­happy, and with re­duced joy and en­thu­si­asm in life, they dampen their par­tic­i­pa­tion and re­duce their prospects for suc­cess.

Re­cently, some dozen Rasta­far­i­ans is­sued a press re­lease en­ti­tled, “Rasta­fari Com­mu­nity of all Guyana Com­mends Pres­i­dent On The Ap­point­ment Of Gecom Chair­man”. The penul­ti­mate para­graph is re­veal­ing:

“Thus, of the six Gen­eral and Re­gional Elec­tions since the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Carter For­mula, five have been chaired by a Guyanese of East In­dian de­scent and one by a Guyanese of African De­scent. For our sa­cred space and con­scious­ness as a multi-racial so­ci­ety, we urge all Guyanese to em­brace the ap­point­ment of Jus­tice James Pat­ter­son, a Guyanese of African de­scent. This bodes well for eth­nic re­la­tions within Guyana. We are in the United Na­tions Decade for Peo­ple of African De­scent.”

Per­haps be­cause we Afro-Guyanese in the PPP/C know and have worked with a num­ber of the twelve per­sons listed, we may be in­clined to think that this is their hon­est, earnest, but in­cor­rect view and so we put for­ward some ob­vi­ous ob­ser­va­tions for their earnest and hon­est con­sid­er­a­tion:

1) The six pre­vi­ous Chair­men came out of a process which saw no dis­pute in the ap­pli­ca­tion of the Carter For­mula, un­like Jus­tice James Pat­ter­son who has been uni­lat­er­ally ap­pointed by our Pres­i­dent Granger dis­put­ing and dis­re­gard­ing the Carter For­mula.

2) There were a num­ber of AfroGuyanese on the lists pre­sented by our LOP, so the de­sire was not sim­ply for an Afro-Guyanese but one cho­sen by our Pres­i­dent uni­lat­er­ally. All Guyanese would sup­port an Afro-Guyanese Chair­man ap­pointed ac­cord­ing to the Carter For­mula.

3) Are we to think that the uni­lat­eral ap­point­ment of an Afro-Guyanese as Chair­man of Gecom, is in and of it­self, the fi­nal de­sired end, or is it to be ex­pected that it would fa­cil­i­tate and de­liver what might be con­sid­ered an Afro-Guyanese gov­ern­ment?

Sim­i­larly mo­ti­vated, but more dam­ag­ing to our young, still em­bry­onic na­tion, ACDA’s let­ter in the news­pa­pers of Oc­to­ber 27 teems with in­ac­cu­ra­cies, parts of but not the whole story, mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions when not mis­un­der­stand­ings, and in­tense anger. It wields a wide brush against the PPP and many oth­ers in our coun­try – the Guyana Pri­vate Sec­tor, the GHRA - but in its raw emo­tion it may have put on the ta­ble thoughts which our so­ci­ety may have sensed but which were hith­erto kept off the ta­ble. The first two lines of ACDA’s let­ter in­di­cates the kinds of ghosts that we, to be a na­tion and act­ing to­gether as a na­tion, must look in the eyes and ex­or­cise:

“The re­cent Con­sti­tu­tional ap­point­ment by his Ex­cel­lency David Arthur Granger has pub­licly re­vealed what Africans in Guyana and the Caribbean all know. In­di­ans do not want to be ruled by an African Leader.”

Many pages could flow from a

con­sid­er­a­tion of those two lines and a book from the whole let­ter. How true is their as­ser­tion? What are the foun­da­tions/bound­aries/lim­its of any truth in it? Do we Africans in our turn want to be ruled by an In­dian Leader? If any­thing, a num­ber of Guyanese of African de­scent, point­ing to our ear­lier ar­rival here and to us see­ing In­di­ans ar­riv­ing here, may be even less dis­posed to be­ing ruled by an In­dian Leader, who they may see as a brother but a younger brother whose time has not yet come.

Many of us Guyanese are still to learn and ac­cept in our bones that pro­grammes and achieve­ments are what should mat­ter, not face and race. In a coun­try like ours, good times and bad times reach us all – the choice of a leader, a Pres­i­dent, should be less a mat­ter of race. Many of the pro­grammes of this Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment, have been dev­as­tat­ing on all of us Guyanese what­ever our race. Our best hope what­ever our race, is that at our Na­tional and Re­gional elec­tions, the over­whelm­ing por­tion of our elec­torate ap­praise the be­hav­iour and per­for­mance of those in­di­vid­u­als who can­vass our votes and cast their votes for who­ever brings a bet­ter life. We of the PPP/C ask for noth­ing more.

Guyanese of African de­scent should guard against and not be de­terred from tak­ing a stand against our Pres­i­dent Granger’s de­par­ture from the Carter For­mula, by the ar­gu­ments that if wrong it is a small wrong to avoid a big­ger wrong of the PPP/C win­ning the elec­tions and re­gain­ing Of­fice; that Guyanese of African de­scent who find them­selves stand­ing along­side the PPP (and the PPP/C) are sell­ing out Afro-Guyanese; that the sup­port­ers of the PPP and the PPP/C do not think much of nor re­spect Guyanese of African de­scent. Those per­sons putting those ar­gu­ments want to en­snare Guyanese of African de­scent for their own pur­poses. It has hap­pened be­fore and it put all Guyanese on that re­gret­table 1968 to 1992 tra­jec­tory.

Although they have been ad­dressed a num­ber of times be­fore, al­low me to ad­dress some is­sues which were the source of great con­tention at some time and which may still be used to dis­cour­age cit­i­zens, par­tic­u­larly Guyanese of African de­scent from tak­ing a po­si­tion sim­i­lar to that of the PPP and the PPP/C:

1) Our hous­ing pro­gramme of­fer­ing un­de­vel­oped house lots in­stead of keys to fin­ished homes in fully de­vel­oped neigh­bour­hoods: For many good rea­sons, we pre­ferred to reach tens of thou­sands of our fel­low cit­i­zens rather than a few hun­dred; and fur­ther, we mo­ti­vated more than half of those to suc­cess­fully save and in­vest in their prop­er­ties – they be­came em­pow­ered. Al­le­ga­tions of dis­crim­i­na­tion in the awards of house lots were not jus­ti­fi­able as we had early adopted a lottery ap­proach to al­lo­ca­tion, and thus de­ter­mined when and where the av­er­age per­son re­ceived his/her house-lot.

2) Our dif­fer­ent han­dling of our baux­ite and sugar sec­tors: We de­vi­ated from the agree­ments of the de­parted PNC in both cases, baux­ite and sugar. We nei­ther shut down baux­ite nor sold off sugar, pre­cip­i­tately.

3) We re­fute the al­most hys­ter­i­cal, and so far, base­less charges of a crim­i­nal narco state where hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars were cor­rupted from our na­tional bud­get each year.

4) The low rep­re­sen­ta­tion of African owned and/or led busi­nesses par­tic­u­larly at the larger sizes: We the PPP/C, see this as largely fol­low­ing from the pre­vi­ous pe­riod when the PNC gov­ern­ment na­tion­al­ized, owned and man­aged about 85% of the for­mal econ­omy, with Afro-Guyanese over rep­re­sented amongst the em­ploy­ees of this pub­lic sec­tor. Afro-Guyanese ex­pe­ri­enced a great shock and suf­fered much losses and changed cir­cum­stances when the ERP in­tro­duced in the late 1980s, re­versed most that they had grown to ac­cept and ex­pect. We the PPP/C, have great hopes that a num­ber of the AfroGuyanese owned and led start-ups dur­ing our 23 years in of­fice would be grown into large busi­nesses of to­mor­row.

5) We of the PPP/C, fear that our coun­try is not ready for a fair, use­ful, heal­ing dis­cus­sion of Roger Khan and any phan­toms, a re­gret­table de­vel­op­ment which in­ex­orably fol­lowed from a num­ber of Afro-Guyanese find­ing the prospect of and sub­se­quent fact of a PPP/C win at our 1997 Elec­tions to­tally un­bear­able, and con­se­quently pro­mot­ing and turn­ing them­selves into ‘Free­dom Fight­ers’.

6) Con­cern­ing al­le­ga­tions that we, the PPP/C, were not even-handed dur­ing our 23 years in Of­fice: We would point to the in­creases in the own­er­ship of ve­hi­cles and of homes all across our coun­try by per­sons of all races and re­li­gions as in­dica­tive of our suc­cess in im­prov­ing the lives of our peo­ples and even-hand­edly so.

We of the PPP/C rec­og­nize and un­der­stand that be­com­ing one peo­ple will chal­lenge us all, every mo­ment of every day and in every as­pect of life. There will be times when even the best of us will fal­ter. The road to the re­al­iza­tion of our motto will in­clude many twists and turns and any num­ber of back­slid­ings. In a num­ber of ways we are again where we were in 1966 to 1968. Whilst it is not some­thing to boast about, much is owed to Dr. Ja­gan and the PPP for keep­ing faith and hope in Guyana through many sub­se­quent, dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods. Now, in 2017, we must urge no less from all of us Guyanese.

The chal­lenge now for all Guyanese is to some­how avert this new par­tic­u­larly dis­rup­tive tra­jec­tory which our Pres­i­dent Granger has thrust us on when he de­parted from the Carter For­mula. Fair minded Guyanese of African de­scent, in­clud­ing those who sup­port or in­tend to sup­port PNC/APNU at our elec­tions, must stand with oth­ers against this de­par­ture.

Yours faith­fully, Sam Hinds, Roger Lun­cheon, Bishop Edghill, Gil­lian Bur­ton and other Guyanese of African de­scent, mem­bers and sup­port­ers of the PPP and the PPP/C.

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