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Last week I weighed in on the leadership impasse within the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) given its implications for creating a stable political environment, grounded in inclusionary democracy, and the Coalition’s quest to be re-elected to the Executive. I return to the issue today given the continuing impasse and potential that it could become intractable.
The A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition has a formidable rival in the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C): a party that stands on seven strong pillars. These are: – the Guyana Rice Producers Association, Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (once led by Cheddie Jagan), Dharma Maha Sabha, Indian Arrival Committee, major sections of the private sector, major media houses, and party groups. The party is presently building the Amerindian and Muslim pillars.
Whereas the PPP/C has seven pillars and is building two more, the PNCR is not engaging in any act to match such alliances but factions within the party, supported by eternal forces, are moving to undermine the little that exists within. The PNCR has allowed the Guyana Labour Union, which was led by Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte and Robert Corbin, to slip from its hands. The post-Corbin leadership has held a distant relationship with independent Labour. The party has destroyed relations, internal and external, with others including ethnic and religious organisations.
Supporters of every political party desire to be in the Executive or part of. The faster the PNCR leadership and their extremist supporters realise their first responsibility is to have every contested leader and their supporters, past leaders and their supporters, party members and other supporters on board, the better it will be for their political chance. The PNCR was able to build a coalition that delivered the Executive in 2015. Many of the coalition supporters felt they did not deliver for them. As such there exists a high level of ambivalence within this constituency.
There is the issue of the Working People’s Alliance and Justice For All parties who walked away from the Coalition having felt excluded from the decision-making process on parliamentary representation, among other matters. The lesson of Barbados’ election should not be ignored. Less than 50 percent of the Bajan electorate went to the poll and the Opposition failed to acquire at least one seat. It was a total sweep for the incumbent.
The above are more than enough awareness and lessons to the leaders of the PNCR to rethink what they are doing and are allowing to be done in their names. The PNCR is not acting like a party of national character that desires to agitate the interest of the masses and prove its ability to replace the uncaring and selfish men and women in the current government.
The obsession about the internal acquisition of power is ignoring the fundamentals of putting systems in place to achieve good governance at the national level, now and in the future. Those demanding the recall of Members of Parliament should not forget when Corbin removed James McAllister from Parliament it attracted widespread condemnation. If it was wrong then, it cannot be right now.
The Party no longer has a Burnham personality. This notwithstanding, the PNCR could benefit from Burnham’s strategy of reaching out to everyone, including political rivals, to build a coalition to win election and govern Guyana. To date, the new leadership has not reached out to national stakeholders to get from them a sense of their perspective for development and how the Party could form alliances on common issues.
This nation awaits evidence that efforts are being made by the Coalition in developing a national programme, after which a parliamentary agenda will be developed, and the parties will work on the ground in putting a strategy in place for the programme’s implementation. The fight is not being taken against the wrongdoings of the PPP/C but only concentrating on the internal leadership. This is an act of cutting the feet off from the knees and immobilising the necessity of a unified programme and strategy to win the next election. The fight for leadership must stop.
Presently all the PNCR and Coalition have are their party groups. Every leader, be he/ she formal or informal is important, as is every member and supporter- past, present and potential. Let me reiterate, the Coalition will need the votes of Joe Harmon, David Granger, their families and supporters, and much more. The current posture of hounding, cussing out and demonising others is reckless. Such conduct goes against the grain of mending fences, building bridges, and fostering a climate of tolerance and “inclusionary democracy” as prescribed in Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution.
Finally, I, like many others, have a vote. Those who voted for the Coalition in 2015 and/or 2020, and others who would like to have the opportunity to vote for them, the vast majority desire and deserve better.