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The year 2023 is here and let me convey my best wishes to you for a prosperous New Year on behalf of the Alliance For Change (AFC).
We have turned the page on 2022, but only after some disturbing developments that will inevitably follow us into the new year. Therefore, we must seek to address these issues before long.
The state of health of our economy and the assault on our democracy stands out among the litany of things imperiled by the PPP/C Government. In opposition, they promised much, but today the evidence of their dismal stewardship shines supreme. The expectations of our people, especially the vulnerable, were once again shattered.
Having benefitted from the generosity of the 2016 Petroleum Agreement, it was highly anticipated that we would be in a better place today as we enter the New Year. However, with over US$600 million extracted from the Natural Resources Fund, life for the substantial majority of Guyanese remains harsh, broken, and riddled with much socio/economic distress.
The high cost of living, which commenced immediately upon the Jagdeo-led PPP taking office, has continued to inflict moral and physical pain on the day-to-day lifestyle of the Guyanese people. Even the most ardent PPP supporters are ashamed to speak about it publicly. If they talk, they do so only in whispers.
Due to the state of affairs, many Guyanese cannot eat two square meals daily. On top of this sad state of affairs, there seems to be an orchestrated conspiracy of silence and an attitude of indifference by the administration and its allies of the well-fed citizens, which continues to explain away the suffering of the people.
Our resources today are better than they were four years ago; however, there is reason to believe (via SuGate and all) that there is collusion among the oligarchs – a toxic combination of corrupt PPP politicians and their recently ‘manufactured’ businesses. Together, this conspiracy is sucking dry our patrimony. As a result, inequality is becoming palpable and ridiculous. Priority is being given to private profit over the public good.
The manifestations of hard times are increasing in hard-nosed crime, domestic violence, suicides, and racial and ethnic discrimination.
- Democratic governance has also taken a severe blow. Recently, the opposition publicly revealed the cunning and mischief behind the alterations of our Election laws in both the Press and Parliament.
- The malign amendment of deleting from our laws the residency requirement to be a voter and striking out house-to-house registration as the method to clean the Voters’ List is the most flagrant assault on our democratic tradition since the contested elections.
- All Guyana knows of the ills perpetrated in our last election with the current bloated list. Yet, instead of proposing measures to correct it, the administration is trying to entrench a system of skullduggery to maintain dominance.
This was a complete somersaulting of the PPP’s position of 1992 when it fought hard for the residency requirement and a house-to-house registration to extract a clean Voters’ List. Therefore, this shameless upending of our electoral framework is a dangerous development.
- So, too, the assault on freedom of expression and conscience of public figures as enshrined in our Constitution. A dangerous new trend is developing where citizens are becoming increasingly afraid to express their opinion of the actions of the Government. The intimidation of opponents and those who do not support governments’ position in this fragile politics is also dangerous.
- We have also seen the shenanigan at the Parliamentary level of the Executive. They do not want scrutiny of any kind. For example, when questions are asked about who precisely are the beneficiaries of the Flood Relief, Covid Relief, the Fisherfolk Relief and the double severance pay to sugar workers, the authoritarians refuse to answer. Massive corruption, nepotism, and discrimination are occurring with billions of our oil funds, made possible because of the non-disclosure clause and practice.
- Similarly, petitioning the Government to have proper consultations with stakeholders before Bills are passed, or even sending them to Select Committees for enhancement of the quality of the legislation, are refused.
- The limited number of sittings of the National Assembly and even the Public Accounts Committee and non-function and dysfunction of a number of Parliamentary Committees and Commissions offer a glimpse of the Executive’s domination and suppression of scrutiny. In what was framed to ensure a separation of powers regime, we see the legislative subordination to the Executive.
- Moreover, under cover of contrived histrionics and the driving of fear into the upper echelons of the bureaucracy, there is a profound, unrelenting political interference and what can only be described as institutional vandalism. Our Police Force, Civil Service, and Environmental Protection Agency are glaring examples.
In addition to these and other glaring instances of a democratic backslide, there is the developing “Caesarism” in the Vice President’s conduct. He must be checked, as I had warned for years now. We want no Caesars! The warning of the liberal political thinker John Stuart Mill must be heeded at this time: “We must not lay our liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enables him to subvert institutions”. …as this hero worship and personality cult ” is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship”.
The reasoning for two terms and no more never resonated with him, although he assented to the Constitutional Amendment to effect term limits. So today, by an administrative bypass, he now serves a third term and will proceed to a fourth and fifth if he is not made a private citizen soon as he has with short shrift made of a former President.
History will recall that I have warned from inside of the PPP (and got expelled for it), and even more so since then, that this Caesarism is not good for the give-and-take compromises of institutional politics in a liberal democracy.
And so there is every indication today that the PPP administration only wants to win an election by any means necessary. They are not interested in a true democracy.
In 2023, we must ensure that our march continues towards a better democracy, which will provide positive socio/economic improvements and superior governance. We will never surrender this principle.
Fellow Guyanese, I believe that with unity of action, we will get to a better place earlier than we may think. We will continue to hope in the possibility of tomorrow because our cause is just
Happy New Year!
God Bless you all and our beautiful, bountiful Guyana.
Listen to the Message here: