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Irfan Ali`s presidency, so far, has been identified with a call for Unity and the Cleansing of GECOM, among other things. There are those who have joined in this call including one commissioner, who took to social media on the occasion of the anniversary of his swearing-in. These calls may however ring hollow and duplicitous in the absence of any real initiative to bring them to fruition and worse yet in the face of actions that betray the sincerity of the calls. It may well be ‘same old same’ politics that has affected Guyana over the years.
The call for unity is, in itself, an admission of the absence of Unity, or its fragility. Such a call must therefore be followed by the identification of the reason(s) for disunity; and the road map for arriving at a solution. The President has tangentially referred to the ‘racial problem’. He may therefore be essaying a view on the reason for disunity. He has however failed to accept that Guyana is not just diverse in its composition, since it historical evolution has engendered racial antagonisms and even hatred as is evident in our social media exchanges, just to mention a glaring example. From my perspective, as an African Guyanese, it is my firm conviction that the enslavement of Africans along with the post-slavery institutionalization of their subjugation, in Guyana, has left them economically disadvantaged and psychologically scared. This is no platform from which they can be expected to answer the clarion call for Unity. Unification under those conditions will simply perpetuate their state of subjugation. If the President is serious about Unity, he has to endeavor to identify the state of all racial groups in Guyana vis-à-vis their socio-economic well-being and psychological state and find ways and means to reverse and/or facilitate the reversal of the ills which have afflicted each group. That may well be the platform for building Unity. No talk about building infrastructure and wealth creation will take Guyana anywhere if the historical negative biases which have been individualized and institutionalized are not addressed, albeit a few may benefit from retaining, and building on, the status quo.
The issues affecting GECOM may well require a similar objective and dispassionate approach, least we point fingers in perpetuity, as Guyana sinks. For one commissioner to accuse another of being complicit can only foster antagonisms, not solutions. Fingers can be pointed in all directions. Whilst the President and his ilk finger the personnel at GECOM, as the problem, there are those who finger the corrupted list, as the problem. Not to mention that the personnel were not seen as the problem when, in 2006 and 2011, they manufactured fraudulent results, an accusation, the veracity of which has never been contested. It may also be argued that the self-proclaimed ‘virtuous’ are those who turned a blind eye to the irrefutable evidence of the dead and absent for whom votes were cast, in 2015. In fact, they also championed the bloated list, which became the instrument that facilitated the voting of the malfeasants, in 2020, for the dead and absent.
Any sincere approach to dealing with GECOM has to be a ground zero approach where there is neither the pretense of piety nor virtue. The fixing of GECOM cannot be driven by interest, in that manner GECOM will not be fixed and Rome will burn while we fiddle.