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A couple weeks ago, the Vice President remarked that Trinidad is falling apart – a reference to the poor state of the economy. But Guyana is also falling apart. Accountability and good governance are falling apart. Our economy is not doing that great given rising levels of poverty and our seemingly undemocratic system of governance.
Trinidad is a democracy whereas Guyana is becoming a creeping dictatorship. The leaders of Trinidad political parties are elected with mass support in a free and fair transparent election. Trinidad leaders are not chosen in a non-transparent manner as in Guyana where central committee members are instructed how to vote or face loss of position. The party leader does not influence the vote in party elections in Trinidad.
In Trinidad, there is internal party democracy. Anyone can seek party position. Those who challenge the leader are not penalised or marginalised. Challengers to Rowley are in the cabinet. In Guyana, there is no internal party democracy. If you challenge the leader, you are marked. You will be denied a position in parliament or as a Minister or Ambassador. If your loyalty to leader is suspect or questioned, there is no position for you.
Also, in Trinidad the government can be criticised and critics are not targeted or punished. In Guyana, when the government is criticised, the critics are marked. They are harassed and victimised. They lose their government job and or state contracts or are disqualified from being hired or getting contracts. The government entertains only loyalty. Only supporters and friends of the ruling party get contracts. There are widespread complaints that most contracts go to contractors of a certain religious faith. Indeed, if one look at the list of contractors who were awarded contracts since August 2020, 70% belong to one faith. Under the previous administration, contracts were spread out among credible contractors irrespective of faith.
In Trinidad, government responds to complaints of allegations of corruption or misuse of public funds or wrong doings of Ministers and other officials. Several have been reprimanded, even terminated from office. In Guyana, hardly anyone has been held accountable for wrong doing. Right now, a Minister is accused of being a sex predator; nothing has happened to him. He goes about his business as though no action will be taken against him.
In Trinidad, a government or cabinet spokesperson (head of government of Min. of Information) makes announcements on policies and decisions. In Guyana, policies are announced by the Vice President even before they have been discussed in the party, parliament, government, and cabinet. Many members of the administration have been taken by surprise by the announcement of the VP ever so often. That is not the hallmark of responsible government. That is authoritarianism. It suggests that government is falling apart.
Before pronouncing on other countries or comparing Guyana with them, the VP should look internally and pronounce on his model of governance. If he allows democracy to prevail internally in his party, in cabinet, in parliament and hold discussion with the public for policymaking, Guyana does not have to worry about wasting resources.