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In 1838 Africans in the British Empire were emancipated from chattel slavery. It is incumbent to examine the African condition with regards to where the group stands in the light of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) aggression as they move to marginalise the community. In this conversation we will bring different perspective based on the experiences we have had and where we are grounded.
From my perspective I am guided by the tools that are used internationally to determine what is just and fair for the African community.
Whereas Africans may be considered to be in a better position than they were in 1838, they are not in the position of empowerment that they ought to be 185 years after Emancipation. The state of the African economy has eroded and efforts at economic self-determination are being stymied. This is due to the fact the regime has implement has policies and programs in determining whether the community could participate in economic investment- and the level to which- where the state and banking systems play a role.
We witness at the workers level the trampling of the right to collective bargaining in workplaces where African labour dominate. We are seeing the shenanigans being played out by the government to deny IDPADA-G state grant/subvention, as they have done with the Critchlow Labour College. We also see the economic discrimination in the various distribution of grants to citizens and sectors of the economy where Africans are either ignored or the standard set for them to receive make them ineligible.
We also see their land distribution and reclamation policy. As government moving to covet African ancestral lands or remove African-dominated community from lands even as they move alacrity to allot state and private lands to their supporters.
In the industrial relations sphere, they are refusing to resolve the 14-year dispute between the Bauxite Company Guyana Inc (BCGI) and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers (GB&GWU), where all it requires is the enforcement of the Labour Law by the Ministry of Labour in declaring deadlock and establish arbitration proceedings to bring about a decision binding on both parties. There is also refusal to negotiate wages/salaries and working conditions with the teachers and public service unions.
The regime has also turned their attention to the cooperatives which has its genesis in building the post-slavery economy of the African community. From this economic philosophy plantations along the coast were purchased and converted to villages, which saw the establishment of the Village Movement and local government. In recognition of this important plank in our economy and the role it played in the nation’s historical development, this country is named the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
Under the cooperative principle, institutions that were established such as the Guyana Agricultural and Industrial Bank (GAIBANK) and Guyana National Cooperative Bank (GNCB) were destroyed by the PPP/C. These were destroyed not merely because they failed to deliver on the philosophy upon which they were founded, but because the policymakers never cared about the consequences that will befall those who stand to benefit from them, i.e., the African community and working class.
The cooperative society, collectively, has within its coffers more than three billion dollars in the commercial banks. As the major economic pillar of African empowerment when opportunities at the commercial banks are not readily available, this is the only avenue for borrowing left. This regime has a responsibility to work with these societies to ensure functionality and accountability, not issue threats or find excuses to “terminate” them.
The PPP has successfully beaten down sections of the African community by denying them economic opportunities and involvement in programmes of the state to the point where they are now forced to grovel at the PPP’s table. Today we are seeing these persons being dehumanised, forced to put on a red t-shirt, and identify that they are PPP members for a $5000 or $10,000. Sadly, rather than take a stand as their forebears did they have buckled.