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Following the publication of last Sunday’s column in which I asserted that the maxim leader culture is irrevocably ingrained in all major parties in Guyana, I received an interesting call. The caller made known that he was struck by what he considered to be a blinkered view of the reality surrounding the issue. The top PNC/R official cajoled me to examine the Constitution of the party and in doing so, he is certain-my the thesis will be swiftly debunked. I told the top party official that as a trained Historian, I am supremely aware of the possibility of a wide gulf between the rules and practice and that the latter buttresses the culture. He accepted this view but maintained that it is prudent, scientific and academic to take a look at the party’s guiding document. I agreed. I took a long and hard look.
The Constitution and the Leader
Upon examination of the 24-page document, I immediately landed on Section 19 which forms the nucleus of the matter under discussion. The heading is emblazoned: ‘Functions and duties of the leader’ and contains 4 sub-sections which point to the essence, as directed by this document, of the tutelage of the party by the given leader at any time. It was extremely difficult to escape 19(2) which states: ‘The leader shall exercise the rights and fulfill all the duties and obligations of the Central Executive Committee between meetings of the Committee and may take any action in keeping with the general policy of the party’. This was the eureka moment. I suspect that the caller wanted me to see this kind of text to suggest that the party does not condone the culture of the maxim leader. But I am not too sure that this language in the party’s constitution can neuter the criticisms over on the dear leader culture. I did not discern any clause that would prevent a leader with dictatorial tendencies from running roughshod over these mere words. It is hereby conceded that indeed, on a prima facie level, the document appears to ascribe supreme powers to the General Council and the Central Executive Committee. Nothing has been discerned by this writer which forces compliance from any head of the party. So, I must tell the caller through this column, my thesis stands.
The Maxim Leader Culture
Given that there is nothing to stop in the party’s Constitution to curtail the totalitarian and control freak-ism tendencies of a leader, what is there to guard against this scenario? Herein lies the concerns of moderate Guyanese who decline to join these parties for the reasons previously outlined. If one challenges the maxim leader, how does one survive in such an environment? This formed the gravamen of my intervention last week. I have seen nothing to change that position. For some reason, at all levels where leadership manifests in this country, authoritarian tendencies are prevalent. There is something in the culture, maybe it is in the water or the air. From the church to the classrooms, those entrusted with authority seem to be imbued with fragile egos. In this regard, political parties are not exempted.
Therefore, I stand steadfast in the view-the maxim leader culture is alive and well in the major parties.