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Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, has identified June 12, 2023 as the date for Local Government Elections (LGE). This very Minister had, on October 20 last year, pronounced that the LGE would have been held on March 13, 2023. However, the date was postponed by GECOM under the pretext that those officials have had to reopen the Claims and Objections process. Consequently, the various political actors are out in full force to garner the votes that allow them to control the respective constituencies across this sovereign country.
The process got underway with the Nomination Day activities where contesting political parties, voluntary groups, and individual candidates are expected to submit their respective nomination lists to the respective Returning Officer in the Municipalities and/or Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) where they would be contesting.
When one examines Local Government Elections 2023 it reveals a corrupt political culture that is built upon economically emaciated, impoverished, and vulnerable communities, more especially Afro-Guyanese enclaves. One cannot be oblivious to the ‘tainted’ voting patterns, notable during the period 1992 to 2020, where the Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) was unable to attract the support of a significant number of Afro-Guyanese and the Peoples’ National Congress (PNC) failed to attract a significant portion of Indian support.
For reasons beyond comprehension, the nation has witnessed on Nomination Day, several Afro- Guyanese, some high-profiled, adorned in red, the distinguishing colour of the PPP, pledging support for the party. Naturally, such decisions have left many African Guyanese befuddled and lost for words.
Empirical data shows Afro-Guyanese are unfairly treated by the current regime, yet many, some prominent, others of minuscule status, proudly marched under the PPP’s banner with satisfied smirks on their faces as though to make a mockery of the discriminatory claims of PNC leaders.
What, to tell, can be the reason (or purpose) of such sanctimonious acts? Is it that we as Africans are simply glutton for punishment or have, we simply lost the guts and gumption that has characterized the stout stances of our great leaders of the past, LFS Burnham, Cuffy, Damion, Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, and many others?
The truth stares us boldly in the face; Afro-Guyanese is a disadvantaged and oppressed group, deprived of a fair share of the nation’s patrimony and just retained as window dressing at the whims and fancies of the ruling cabal.
Those officials that control the seat of government are using their power and authority to impose their views on those citizens bold enough to speak out against their oppressive stances. These officials are extremely oppressive and rather than attempting to pragmatically address the core issues, utilize their time and efforts to justify and enforce the social, political, and systematical denial of resources to Afro-Guyanese.
They have intentionally imposed unbearable living conditions, needlessly painful, and detracted from physical and psychological well-being. Moreover, Afro-Guyanese, though qualified, are deprived of requisite jobs, a necessary condition for mental well-being and self-dignity. Some are unable to bear such debilitating conditions and seek shelter under Freedom House. The PPP then boldly paraded with them in public as a testimony of their (PPP) broad-based policies and inclusivity.
Clearly put; the prevailing trials and afflictions under which Afro-Guyanese are subjected, is designed to strip them of their dignity and those unable to “bear their chafe” as we say in Guyanese parlance, choose to seek comfort in the bosom of the despotic PPP.
With the availability of ‘oil money,’ the PPP has unlimited funds to buy votes and control the narrative in the public domain, a belief that has recently been endorsed by an apology uttered by Jagdeo to a Berbice family whose dead mother’s name appeared on PPP candidate’s nomination documents. Somehow, the 2nd Vice President has managed to switch the narrative from a deep-seated criminal act to one of minuscule negligence.
The PPP boast of solid support from every section of the Guyanese populace but on closer examination, it was discovered that they merely humiliated and insulted the emasculated new ranks by reportedly paying them a mere five thousand dollars and a box of food to be a part of its nomination day parade.
Available evidence also suggests that the PPP had engaged in vote buying and fraudulent activities to achieve prerequisite nominations for some of their candidates. Reportedly, the ten-day workers were mandated (or should that be, brutally coerced?) to attend the nomination day parades. This is highly unethical and illegal and should be the basis of rejection while implementing campaign legislation to prosecute those accused of such unprofessional, demeaning, and unlawful activities.
No one should be placed in a position where he/she is forced to join the oppressor to survive. It ought to be voluntary, a personal choice, an absolute necessity for acceptance and respect. Many of the newly inducted red shirts are frowned upon by their relatives and communities and mocked by traditional supporters of the PPP.
In West Berbice, a traditional supporter of the PPP had proudly and loudly pronounced that “Greens can be bought cheaply in the markets but dem Blackman going at a cheaper price.” Yes, we Africans are offended by this statement but if the truth be told, we are the ones that endorse insensitive remarks of this nature by our very attitude and compliance.
Luckily, the brutal acts of betrayal displayed by the newly inducted red shirts in several PNC strongholds, have failed to influence others to act similarly. Rather, these defectors are merely viewed as ignoble and undignified.
Mind you, citizens, regardless of race, political affiliation, economic status, or religion have a sovereign right to their decisions. They must not be manipulated by a sordid political system to satisfy the goals and personal ambition of those who govern.
Most importantly, no citizen must allow him/herself to be stripped of personal dignity by accepting minuscule sums for adverse life-defining deeds. The actions of the PPP are crass and contemptuous and must be rejected by all if we are serious about building a cohesive and unified nation. No group should endeavor to subdue another by coercion, intimidation, or with pittances not even befitting a junky.