Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
President Irfaan Ali met with some leaders from the Christian community on Tuesday. During the meeting the president sought to defend allegations the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government is engaged in racist and discriminatory practices. According to Ali, in his travels throughout Guyana he has seen a desire by ordinary Guyanese to live in peace, harmony and to come together to enhance growth and development, and it is a small number of persons who continue to peddle racism and discrimination.
Numerous allegations the government is practicing discrimination and racism have been made by the political opposition, trade unions and civil society.
The A Partnership of National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) has accused the PPP of discrimination in budgetary allocations to regional and neighbourhood democratic councils not controlled by the PPP and in villages and towns populated primarily by opposition supporters.
The government stands accused of firing of public servants employed by the APNU+AFC government when they returned in August 2020.
Trade unions have accused the government, not without merit, of denying workers they represent the right to collective bargaining. Some of these unions are the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU). The GPSU has taken the government to court, requesting the court direct the government to respect the constitutional right.
There are issues of equity and equality in distribution of cash grants where some groups are favoured as some are denied and some are still holding pink slips for $25,000 cash grants.
Management of land settlement and allocation have also been a sore issue which the government has not successfully countered.
President Ali is yet to engage the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey Norton, who electorally represents half the society. Such engagement would be consistent with the objective of the political system as outlined in Article 13 of the Constitution of Guyana which mandates “inclusionary democracy” in the management and decision-making processes of the state.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres speaking recently said “racism manifests in many forms – conscious and unconscious. Combatting it demands action every day, at every level. It is especially important to recognise that historical injustices have contributed to poverty, underdevelopment, marginalisation, social exclusion and instability for both people and countries alike.”
The president said to counter allegations of racism and discrimination he “pledges to continue working on dismantling every single chord of discrimination against Guyanese.” How he plans to do that he did not say save to say to religious leaders they will be included in budget consultations and constitutional reform. The level of their participation was not outlined.
Church leaders were told by the President he sees them as important partners in achieving national unity and dismantling the narrative of division. The church is also charged, according to the Holy Book, to speak out against injustices, advocate for equality, and engage in acts that will be pleasing in God’s sight.