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By GHK Lall
Guyana’s Coalition Opposition seems to be on the move now, up its game to a new level altogether. Time has not been kind to it as it fiddled. Meanwhile, there is a PPP Government filled with leaders, ministers, and insiders, who all run amok, with a solitary exception breaking away from the mold, and standing out here and there for their rare principles. It is why, the combined Opposition, as led by Mr. Aubrey Norton, must sort itself out quickly, get its act together. Each day that the ante is not upped on PPP leaders for what they are doing is another day lost by the needy and hopeful of Guyana. Now it appears that the Opposition is gathering some steam, elevating to full campaign mode.
Currently, there are enough issues demanding focused attention, and intensified pressure on this runaway PPP Government. It has to be some careful and continuing program that is a combination of more court on the burning issues, more motions in parliament, and more protests in the streets to keep up a relentless degree of energy and commitment. Let the courts decide; let the Speaker reject; let the chips fall wherever they do. But let there be the wisdom in the Opposition to have a fallback plan with several parts. Unconstitutional appointments are only part of court pressure. I think that those perverse procurement awards that fly in the face of commonsense and represent procedural mysteries must be exposed for corruptions they hide. There must be heat coming from the street in the outraged voices peacefully deployed.
The Vice News exposé must not be allowed to wither on the vine and die from lack of interest in the normal Guyanese manner. There is too much at stake, too many high people identified, and with too much of this going on for too long. The two-headed leadership monstrosity, with its good cop/bad cop strategy, must be condemned for the rackets that are engaged in, while spouting hot air about investigations and independent inquiries. These must be denounced in the harshest terms, for the shams that they are. If an example and precedent is required, there is Malawi and how President Chakwera stripped Vice President Chilima for his name being mentioned in corruption scandals. Now that is leadership, that is getting it right. Not this farce about investigations, while both local leaders engage in this mutual back-rubbing dance.
Another note due for more of the spotlight is that too many public servants have been discriminated against, and this still continues to be the practice. This is not a kick the tire matter, with moving on following, but one that is deserving of being kept before the public, and in the street, which is what I believe is called for, given the wrongs inflicted. The misuse of the Guyana Police Force, and the corrupting of its officers and ranks not to be passed over or left to fade away. What happened to the Opposition Leader could be directed at any Guyanese who disagrees with this vindictive PPP Government and leaders bent on control through open intimidation, with concerns about what could be happening secretly. Some of this was highlighted at the August 2nd Rally.
There is comfort in numbers, and the Opposition has to deliver properly on this front. There must be lessons learned from sustained mass protests in Sri Lanka, and on how students, labor unions, Church, and a wide cross-section of society joined the fight to get rid of leaders who indebted them, further impoverished them. The Opposition leadership trust must come up with a vision and strategy to capitalize on weaknesses prevalent here. Many Guyanese are unhappy because like occurred in Sri Lanka and nearby Suriname, they observe the fat cats closely affiliated with the ruling PPP Government get fatter and richer, while they are starving and going on empty. As Nigel Hughes insisted, in this democracy, there must be equality.
Moreover, there are countless issues on which to disagree and take a stand. However, it is a sign of greater strength, wisdom, statesmanship and national consideration to know when to agree, if only for the greater good. So far, the good has been largely reserved for PPP royalty and leadership cronies. This must be railed against, even if it means that some friends are lost. Since its return, the PPP Government’s program is biased heavily towards the rich private sector, where leaders return favors. This is while the nation’s poor and struggling are left to fend for themselves with paltry prospects in this rich land.
Decisions have to be made regarding what to give a pass, as in leaving alone, since some battles are pyrrhic, since they cost more than they gain, when all is measured. What to seize and leverage for maximum exposure. I think that the Opposition has been slow on the draw, in that it has not brought a sharp enough focus on daily struggles, endless corruptions, money laundering, and leaders’ commandeering of sensitive institutions for their own reasons, which leave us exposed and endangered. The EPA and police stand as foremost examples.
The Government is barreling full speed ahead, and the Opposition cannot afford to fall farther behind. The Government controls media spaces, and the Opposition cannot afford to ignore or yield. Plan, plan, and plan some more. Then implement broadly, stoutly. I retain the impression that the Opposition choir is still not singing from the same hymnbook, which must cease if it will be a viable, respected presence. The messages, of necessity, must be more chiseled; the postures more muscular; the battles more wisely selected.
There must be pounding away at PPP Government corruptions, with a public service peopled by flunkies, political czars, and sycophants who serve as trusted middlemen (collectors) and do whatever leaders bid. The daily agony of the poverty stricken must be more than a talking point. It must be a heartfelt protest point and rallying around point. I watch to see what full campaign mode means.