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…says APNU+AFC playing the race card for political mileage
…says fired public servants were obstructive, openly against the PPP/C
By Lisa Hamilton
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond is yet another afro-Guyanese politician who has come to the defence of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) as not being “racist” or prejudicial as the APNU+AFC Opposition has painted it to be.
On Monday, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy told the National Assembly during the budget debate that the Opposition was only speaking at length on the matter of racism in Guyana to score cheap political points.
Today, on the second day of the debates, Walrond agreed with these sentiments stating that there has been “incessant radicalizing and racializing” of the policy debates by some members of the Opposition.
While the Opposition has claimed prejudice based on race, Walrond vouched for the PPP/C as no such Government.
“Mr. Speaker, the connection of my family to the People’s National Congress are well known, yet the leaders of the PPP/C, when considering their governance and what the Government would look like and who would have a say in defining and implementing its policies, chose me, despite the political connections of my family and despite the fact that I have never before even dreamed of being involved in politics,” Walrond told the House.
“Mr. Speaker, this speaks to the core and the DNA of a President and a party and a philosophy that cannot credibly be held out as racist and non-inclusive and this not just window dressing.”
She called on the public to make its own comparison by examining for themselves how portfolios were assigned under the APNU+AFC and note that it was not based on merit. She said that, as part of the PPP/C, she now has more responsibility even than that of former Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo.
Walrond also took offence with the use of the term “ethnic cleansing” by the Opposition. She explained that the term was coined during the Bosnian War (1992–95) when a large number of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats were killed, forced to flee their homes and expelled by the Army of Republika Srpska and Serb paramilitaries.
“This is the history of the term that is now so recklessly trivialized by those on the other side in their pursuit to gain political advantage,” the Minister said.
The APNU+AFC coalition has accused the PPP/C on several occasions of engaging in the ethnic cleansing of afro-Guyanese. Their list of persons includes the hundreds of public servants fired when the PPP/C took Office; the legal pursuit of several employees of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and others affected since the Government took office.
Opposition MP Amanza Walton-Desir, in a very spirited presentation on day one of the Budget debate, told the House: “It is also not lost on us, and in fact, it is now downright undeniable that the PPP/C administration has embarked upon a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the public service. The PPP/C has made it pellucid that there is no place for black, qualified professionals in Guyana. The rabidity of this administration, Mr. Speaker, is as such that not only have they fired hundreds of qualified black professionals, but they have taken active steps to ensure that their disapproval is communicated to persons and organisations who are desirous of retaining the services of these professionals.”
However, Walrond said that none of the PPP/C’s actions has been set out to target afro-Guyanese.
“Shameful. The Members on the other side have doubled down with chants of ethnic cleansing with respect to separations in the public sector… [but] in the heavy days after the 2015 elections, Guyanese were promised a neutral and professional public service. That was the promise, Mr. Speaker, but what did we in fact get? Mr. Speaker, in the aftermath of the elections of 2020, several persons in the public sector openly indicated that they were adamantly opposed under any circumstances to President Ali and to any PPP government,” Walrond said.
She stated further that these public servants were determined to be obstructive and therefore their dismissal was absolutely necessary to ensure that the Government could carry out its developmental plans uninterrupted.