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– Granger tells party Congress
“People who cannot change their attitudes and conduct will never change anything,” outgoing Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), David Granger told delegates during a closed door meeting at the Party’s 21st Biennial Delegates Congress on Saturday.
In his virtual address, Granger, who did not seek re-election, said progress is impossible without change, and performance cannot be improved by repeating unrealistic remedies. He said Forbes Burnham, PNCR’s Founder-Leader, was concerned always about change in the country and the party’s ability to respond to contemporary challenges. Burnham, he said, managed the PNC’s transition from a party in opposition to one in government.
“He saw the need for change in the party’s political culture and realised that there was a need for renewal of the party’s leadership, stewardship and political partnerships in order to govern effectively and to promote public trust,” Granger reasoned. He said it was Burnham who set Guyana on a course to transform a backward colony into an advanced republic.
Alluding to the Founder-Leader’s address at the party’s 1st Biennial Delegates’ Congress in 1975, Granger, for a second time, warned of the danger of factionalism. “To be sponsoring and joining factions in the Party is to indulge in anti-Party activity calculated to weaken, if not aimed at weakening, the Party. There may be different motivations, some springing from personal ambition, others from a minority position firmly held. Whichever it may be, the objective result is undesirable and deleterious,” the outgoing Leader said as he quoted Burnham.
Granger said Desmond Hoyte, PNCR’s second Leader, who was elected at the 6th Biennial Delegates Congress in 1985, and re-elected repeatedly up to the 13th Biennial Congress in 2002 also understood importance of change.
“That period degenerated into a ‘decade of discord’ during which dissidents defiantly undermined his authority and schismatics splintered the party’s solidarity,” Granger recalled, while pointing out that Hoyte in his final address in 2002, also warned the party of the danger of disunity.
“He pleaded for change in the party’s political culture, using the word ‘change’ twenty-one times in his Congress address,” Granger pointed out.
In his address, Hoyte said: “Change is as necessary a part of politics as it is of life. Those who do not change become dinosaurs, irrelevant and, eventually, extinct. Change is as necessary a part of politics as it is of life. If we do not adapt to new circumstance, new challenges and new responsibilities we cannot survive, much less overcome.”
It was noted that Hoyte’s emphasis on change was not misplaced.
“The party was afflicted by factionalism from its first year of existence in 1958. Some persons seemed not to accept that the “party” was more important than any ‘personality; that they were elected to office not to satisfy their private hunger for wealth or their personal passion for power but to serve the people who they represented,” Granger said.
According to him, the party has a sad record of revolt. Citing a total of five examples, Granger contended that Jai Narine Singh, the first General Secretary, allowed personal and political
ambition to smother party allegiance, and broke away to form the Guianese Independence Movement party.
“Sidney King, (later Eusi Kwayana), also a former General Secretary, broke from the PNC in 1961 and helped to establish the Working People’s Alliance party. Hamilton Green, another former General Secretary, broke from the Party in 1993 and established the Good and Green for Guyana party. Raphael Trotman, an elected PNC Member of Parliament, broke from the Party in 2005 and established the Alliance For Change party,” the outgoing Leader pointed out while adding that “the Guiana Independence Movement, the Working People’s Alliance, the Good and Green for Guyana and the Alliance For Change all wounded their ‘mother’ party!”
Granger said the present decade demands members’ rededication to the people’s development, and therefore, they should not allow for another period of personal rivalry. He said Congress should teach the lessons of the party’s past rifts and the excruciating experiences of its leaders. “Congress’s task, in this decade, is to sustain solidarity by knitting groups together, not splitting them apart; by building up, not breaking down; by multiplying membership – not dividing and subtracting – thereby promoting public trust in the Party,” he said while warning that the party can achieve much by changing its political culture by suppressing schisms and factionalism for the common good.