Stabroek News

It is imperative for all Guyanese to rethink their political approach to Guyana’s new reality

- Dear Editor, Sincerely, Tacuma Ogunseye

On Sunday, January 2, 2022 Walter Rodney Groundings, (TV channel 9) I began explaining to the nation my future approach to engagement with the Indian community. The discussion, starting at the latter part of the program, ended abruptly as our time ran out. I now seek in this letter to announce the rethink of my previous position and my subsequent decision. I must state the context of my previous position on engagement with the Indian community so that readers can appreciate my new approach to this controvers­ial matter. Mr. Ravi Dev and his party ROAR, on entering the Guyanese political landscape, revisited the issue of what is meant by “multiracia­l” in the context of Guyanese politics and questioned the WPA’s claim to be a multi-racial party.

For readers of the younger generation, it is important to point out the context of this interventi­on. It took place after the assassinat­ion of Walter Rodney, and the period when the WPA embraced convention­al politics/electoral politics. WPA and Rodney had built a mass movement of Guyanese that threatened the overthrow of the dictatorsh­ip which has since been described as the “Civil Rebellion.” This period was characteri­zed by weeks of daily mass street protests, public meetings, and political violence by the state. This successful struggle in the civil rebellion had strengthen­ed, if not legitimize­d in the public perception, the WPA as a multiracia­l party.

In the WPA leadership at the time, and more so as elements of the old politics began to reemerge, never concluded discussion­s that had begun on the party’s status as a multi-racial party. When the matter was raised by Dev and began to get public traction, the WPA leadership took the tactical position of not engaging a public polemic with ROAR. Sometime after the 1997 General and Regional Elections, I wrote a letter in which I acknowledg­ed the correctnes­s of ROAR’s observatio­n which was demonstrat­ed in the way the population voted in the 1992 and 1997 elections. The WPA got less than 2% of the votes and only got into the parliament due to the support of the Indigenous communitie­s in the hinterland­s. Dev and ROAR had argued that the WPA doesn’t have sufficient reliable support in either the Indian or African communitie­s to be an authentic representa­tive of these communitie­s and made it clear that the WPA can’t speak for the Indians.

After careful and painful reflection on the merits of ROAR’s position supported by Indian political behaviour and unquestion­able electoral support for the PPP, I accepted the reality and took the position that African political activists in the WPA should respect the demonstrat­ed wishes of the Indian community that the PPP is their chosen representa­tive. I said in the abovementi­oned letter that I would confine my political activism to the African community. From that time to the present, I have honoured that declaratio­n as a matter of political principle and respect for the Indian community. Given my history of working and struggling with both the African and the Indian communitie­s, my political dis-engagement with the latter was no easy matter. Like all political actions, the outcome is not known until it occurs, and one has to be optimistic.

As I write, I cannot say with certainty that my judgement and action have been correct politicall­y. What I am willing to say it was a genuine attempt at a political objective based on obvious political reality. In trying to come to grips with the political challenges the country faces with an oil and gas sector, and the transforma­tive effects of this reality, which has radically changed our politics in a way we are yet to understand, it is imperative for all Guyanese to rethink our political approach to the new reality. The political arrogance and contempt for the nation demonstrat­ed in the PPP/C government dictatoria­l passing of the National Resource Fund (NRF) Bill has hastened my rethink and timing of my announceme­nt. In simple terms, all patriotic Guyanese, despite previous political positions, have a duty to make conscious efforts to develop a national consensus on the future of this oil-rich nation. This requires a new beginning, based on the conviction that our nation’s patrimony belongs to all Guyanese. I conclude by appealing to the nation that we commit to a new national engagement where one speaks for all and all for one. Where one defends all and all defends one. The struggle continues!

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