Todd says Opposition should halt ‘divisive’ talks on race

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd and Opposition MP and Attorney-at-Law, Amanza Walton-Desir

…says PNC doesn’t have exclusive control over Afro-Guyanese vote
…Lincoln Lewis says such calls are shameful coming from Afro-Guyanese

By Lisa Hamilton

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd has added his voice to the PPP/C criticism of the APNU+AFC coalition for allegedly using its political stage to create division among Guyanese on the matter of race prejudice and racial discrimination.
On Wednesday, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond told the House during the budget debates that the PPP/C is not being “racist” or prejudicial as the APNU+AFC Opposition has painted it to be.

On Thursday, Todd told House that the Opposition is using the issue of race for political gain but it must be reminded that all Afro-Guyanese do not vote for the APNU+AFC which means that the party should be more inclusive in its presentations rather than its consistent focus on alleged prejudicial treatment to the afro-Guyanese population.

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The very first speaker of the 2021 budget debates, Opposition MP and Attorney-at-Law, Amanza Walton-Desir had used a portion of her time to passionately address what she said was a string of Afro-Guyanese that have been affected by the actions of the Government since it took office. She also submitted that Indo-Guyanese and Indigenous Guyanese, who are perceived to be supporters of the coalition, have also come under fire by the PPP/C.

However, Todd said that Walton-Desir is using race politics and ethnopolitics “to create further hostility in the Guyanese society”. He said that the “working-class blacks” in Guyana are tired of the misrepresentation they’ve received by the APNU+AFC. Holding up a document showing information from the 2012 census, he posited that there is the thinking that “every black working-class vote for the PNC”. However, he said that the census shows that Afro-Guyanese only represents 1/3 of the population while Indo-Guyanese represents 40 per cent. Mixed race, he added, represents 20 per cent; Amerindians 10.51 per cent and other races 0.03 per cent.

The Foreign Affairs Minister also pointed out that votes cast at the 2020 General and Regional Elections showed that the PPP/C not only received more votes altogether but it received a significant amount of votes from PNC-dominated, Afro-Guyanese areas. “It’s an illusion, coming from the other side of the House when they speak about the representation of the black working class in Guyana and that thinking that they put out there that the black working class only votes for the PNC, that is lie and that must stop today and now, enough is enough,” Todd said.

He added: “It is statistically improbable for each and every black working class to vote for the APNU+AFC when you look at the numbers. So please, go home…and come back with a different model, a model that includes inclusiveness, a model that represents each and every Guyanese and a model that excludes race politics.”

Other Afro-Guyanese Ministers such as Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton have also brushed aside the allegations of racial discrimination made by the Opposition. However, some leaders within the public observing the debates have not taken kindly to the calls of Hamilton, Walrond, or Todd that the Opposition desists its talks about race.

Trade Unionist, Lincoln Lewis posted online following Walrond’s presentations: “There is something disgusting and worrying about black leaders in the PPP who feel their relevance in that regime could only be assured engaging in self-hate and lies about their race. Minister Walrond is one such person. Shameful. Whereas there is little that can be done for their personal self-hate they must be held to account for their distortions and attempt to malign an entire race that has an indomitable legacy of self-determination, hard work, integrity. We must confront and expose them in every nook and cranny. They represent the worst, not the best of us.” Even so, Todd told the House on Thursday that his Administration wants to build a future for each and every citizen. He said that the PPP/C in Government will ensure that each Guyanese citizen is treated fairly and is fairly catered for in a society that allows all races to participate in the development process.



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