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—Bond calls for a more unified opposition
—says coalition can do better to represent supporters
Contending that the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition could have done much more during its time in Office (2015-2020), James Bond, an Attorney-at-Law, Political Activist and Businessman, said two years after the highly controversial 2020 General and Regional Elections, APNU+AFC, now in opposition, finds itself in a bad shape – divided and with no Leader.
“I feel very strongly that the Opposition can do better; I have not seen a unified opposition,” Bond told Political Scientist, Dr. David Hinds, while appearing on Politics 101 on Thursday, March 3. Bond, who is also a member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the largest party within the coalition – warned that Guyanese are keenly following the ‘developments’ within the Opposition, and passing their judgement. “They think, and they say it, the Opposition is weak; the Opposition is in disarray; the Opposition has no leader,” Bond said.
He alluded to the fact that more than a month after Joseph Harmon stepped down as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, there has been no replacement.
The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the PNCR has been pushing for its Leader, Aubrey Norton to become the next Opposition Leader, but though the party has secured the support of the AFC, it has been a struggle to get Norton into the House despite Harmon’s resignation.
He said on the ground, the Opposition is not amassing the requisite support, particularly in the case of securing non-traditional votes, ahead of the Local Government and General and Regional Elections. “What groundwork are we putting in place to win the next election,” Bond questioned.
From where he stands, the Opposition, in particular the APNU+AFC, is performing poorly. “We are performing miserably, and I do hope that we get our act together,” Bond submitted.
Lack of vision, energy
Reflecting on the Coalition’s term in Office, the Political Activist submitted that the Coalition Government lacked a vision for development that incorporated the Private Sector. According to him, the Private Sector under the David Granger Administration was sidelined. “We kept the Private Sector at arm’s length,” he posited while contending that any Government seeking to remain in office must share a positive relationship with the Private Sector. “But we found ourselves, whilst in Government, alienating the Private Sector because we think they are PPP… Even if they are PPP, you still have to make sure, that you incorporate them into your policies, into your programmes to transform Guyana,” he reasoned.
Bond said that a number of private developmental projects were left languishing under the Coalition Government. He posited too that the Granger Administration could have done more to improve the Criminal Justice System. Turning his attention to the 2020 General Elections, Bond opined that the Coalition dropped the ball. “I don’t think that we went into the Elections as an elections machinery,” he opined, while adding that even ahead of those crucial elections, the Coalition Government failed to act on intelligence garnered, particularly regarding the 2018 No-Confidence Motion, which was successfully passed in the National Assembly after one of its Members of Parliament, Charrandass Persaud, voted in favor of the motion.
In a USAID sponsored report dubbed ‘Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Assessment: Guyana,’ it was submitted that “the ruling party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the opposition coalition the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) need to find a way to form a functioning democracy based on power-sharing rather than a ‘winner takes all’ mentality.”
Asked to weigh in on this assessment, Bond, in supporting the proposition, said it has long been his belief that societies such as Guyana with a diversity of ethnic groups, cultures and religious beliefs, must work together for the good of all. “Guyana does not belong to one group; Guyana doesn’t belong to one party but the political system that we have allows for that, allows for one grouping to dominate, allows for one party to dominate. It is impossible for the entire country to benefit economically from a system is designed to benefit a single political party,” he reasoned.
He submitted that regardless of the party in power, Guyanese must benefit fairly and equitably from the country’s resources. Additionally, he said the Opposition must not be shut out or excluded from the country’s development, and therefore, should be included in the decision making process at every level.
CLEARING THE AIR
Bond, who himself has come in for much criticisms particularly from coalition supporters, made it clear that he remains a solid member and supporter of the PNCR. However, he said as a businessman, he cannot engage in segregation. He said one cannot mix business with politics. “Everyone must feel welcome at my place of business. I don’t care if you are PPP, if you are PNC, if you are WPA, if you are Indian, Black, Chinese, whatever, you are welcome at my place of business,” he said.
He noted that many of the associates that he has now existed long before the 2020 and 2015 Elections. Bond said his charitable work in the various communities along the East Coast of Demerara and other parts of the country is intended at building bridges.