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By GHK Lall
Guyanese are enough in America, and around things American, that I think there is leeway for inserting a piece of Americanism into Guyana. It was Yankee baseball culture smasher, Yogi Berra, who said “it ain’t over, till it’s over.” That was in America and with only a game involved. In the game of life in Guyana, we have a similar expression that just took to the airwaves, compliments of a leading PNC and coalition figure.
“When that date arrives, I am finished”. So said, Mr. Joseph Harmon, PNC MP. Though there was some uncertainty about whether there is a subtle distinction between “intention to resign” and an irreversible commitment to actual resignation, there was the big man saying publicly that he would be “finished” after March 15, 2022. He did on his own Ides of March, a Guyanese Julius Caesar outed by his own handiworks. In view of what has taken place in opposition ranks, I had my doubts as to what “finished” may mean in the mind of the erudite Joseph Harmon. He has shown himself to be as slippery as sandpaper where political infighting is concerned, and just as abrasive, given the state of things
Nevertheless, and regardless of what “intention” and “resignation” and “finished” all represent to Mr. Harmon, he did go on his own; how far remains to be seen. But this society has been sabotaged when these games played. It is not baseball, nor another moment for more political gamesmanship. It is a situation where more than a political opposition group-a major one-is held high and dry, and stranded in its tracks. Even today, as infighting continues. This is how the welfare of an entire nation is held hostage by those who refuse to take a step back for the betterment of the nation.
It is the worst time that this could happen, meaning, that the opposition is suspended between a phantomlike presence and that of a lost force. When the older man holds movement up with one subterfuge after another, and the younger man (the newly chosen one) is reduced to balance and navigate carefully the shoals of internal party skirmishing, while keeping a humble, moderate, and relevant public presence, a great disservice is done to group and country.
Whether one has any regard (or not) for the opposition should be not be the foremost concern. It is not mine. What matters is that many Guyanese are deeply concerned about the way that this country is being governed, while the major opposition, the only one of substance, is wrapped up in its traumas and dilemmas. This same opposition entity is the only one that possibly could stand right to the face of a runaway PPPC Government and leadership, and dare both to runover its concerns, its peoples, and the necessary contributions that it can bring to the national table. It still does have that muscle to demand that kind of pause, if not grudging respect, and to be able to get some degree of listening, even some measure of accommodation. No other group in Guyana has what it takes to do so currently. This is what matters to me, all things weighed appropriately.
It is why my position is that the PNC, and broader opposition coalition, does not have the luxury of allowing itself to be hijacked by dogged internal forces (however externally powered and incentivized) at this time. Guyana cannot afford this, not given where it is poised today. Time is of the essence, and every day lost to this leadership indecisiveness, this slow-moving mystery, and this public suspense re a viable opposition presence is costing Guyana dearly. There is a confluence of corruption crises, and the same with leadership crookedness.
I have asked myself repeatedly what could be behind this stubbornness in the PNC hierarchy. Because there are insights on how global corporate powers operate, it is my position that these interminable delays over the new man assuming his rightful place at the helm are neither accidental nor the product of orneriness. For when I think of the leader ousted, I discern someone who has a following, but no expansive constituency; someone who hangs around, but has little standing left; and someone who has already lost place, and now loses whatever face is left. The longer that he stayed around, the more lasting the damage done to party and this nation’s collection of peoples. He may be officially gone, but some of his stonewalling postures have taken hold of others, who pick-up where he left off. Precious time wasted gave others in the party their own leadership ideas.
As an aside, it is noteworthy that neither the government nor its people have seized the many available opportunities to trash the opposition more during its leadership woes. In a society where the smallest political development that weakens foes is jumped upon and magnified at will by PPPC leaders and henchmen, it is telling that they have been curiously hesitant to take advantage of the situation. Rather than draw attention to it, and seek the advantages coming from it, government and ruling party have seemingly adapted a strategy that the longer this hang-up plays out, the more hay they can make while there is no real opposition restraining hand.
I think that everybody is playing their respective roles very smartly. This ranges from the Vice President to the departed Mr. Harmon to the predatory American oil presence to ambitious PNC players. Commonsense indicates that all four are one, and not for the best interests of country or people.
When all of these components are fused under the same roof, there should come better understandings of why this draining opposition situation has persisted so long, and with very damaging consequences to the Guyanese people and psyche. I close by inviting my fellow citizens to examine the works of those four bodies (a Former President, a former Opposition Leader, a foreign oil giant, and PNC aspirants), and ask themselves when any good has come from them.