(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 17 Nov 2005)
It seems there are some who feel I am being soft on the female portion of the AFC “Gang of Three,” who have quit their former parties while defiantly retaining their seats in parliament against the grain of public opinion. Therefore, all things being equal, I am now forced to address Sheila Holder’s part in this position so it does not seem like I am letting her off the hook because she is a woman.
However, before I do this, I want to say that I have the utmost respect for any woman who dares to take on politics in Guyana. Further, I believe that as more women balance out the judicial and legislative branches of government to better reflect a more realistic representation of our gender, the better the country will be. One thing is for sure; things cannot get much worse than they are already.
Having noted my respect for you Sheila, I must say that your decision to remain in the WPA seat in Parliament as an AFC member is even more disgraceful than your two cohorts since the WPA only has one seat, which you now hold – as an AFC member. Although Raphael and Khemraj are both wrong in this issue too, their former parties have the capacity to continue their work in Parliament because they still have representation.
It is important to realise that not one person voted for the AFC in the last election and therefore your new party, Sheila, should have no representation whatsoever in Parliament – yet it now has three seats. However, the WPA should have one seat, but you have wrongfully refused to return to the WPA what rightfully belongs to them, which leaves them with no representation at all.
If I voted for the WPA last election, I would have serious trepidations about voting for the AFC now simply because you stole my legal and due representation without my consent and under the guise of representing my best interest. Those who voted for the WPA did not give you the permission to represent them as an AFC member, so the pretext of representing their interest holds no merit whatsoever.
Sheila, since none of the gentlemen I have written to or about on this issue (see links at the end of this column) seem to have the capacity to satisfactorily address my inquiries, I am hoping as a woman you show better leadership skills. It is true that Freddie, whom I also respect greatly, made a couple attempts, but the result was a philosophical dance that said absolutely nothing in the end.
The only response from your comrade, Khemraj, was a sweeping dismissal at then end of a letter that was primarily addressed to two others concerned about this issue. How can he expect me, or anyone else for that matter, to take him seriously as a leader when he acts like that?
A good leader would go to great lengths to address the concerns posed and do so with respect. At the same time Khemraj insinuated that I made no sense. Since the rest of the country who reads the same “Stella Says” columns that Khemraj has read seems to comprehend the scope of my thoughts without great effort, I am hoping he has not embarrassed himself by admitting that he, as one of Guyana’s finest lawyers, can not understand my simple columns.
I know he probably did understand me, but chose not to respond to my pointed questions. That is his choice. However, I’m going to be very frank with the “Gang of Three;” you cannot continue to evade the questions and concerns over this matter and expect the people to trust you. These are real concerns that should be addressed – not dismissed as inconsequential.
I am hoping the AFC has more respect for the people than to think they will simply let this issue die without full accountability. The PPP shows their disdain of the people in such a way and it is sickening to watch them throw whimsical propaganda about without so much as a shifting foundation on which to stand.
Which makes me wonder if this is a trait that Khemraj has brought with him into the AFC. It is not a good thing to bring the bad habits of those old parties into the new AFC. I hope that statement was not too difficult for Khemraj to understand. Here, let me make it as simple as possible – PPP traits can be bad; do not act like the PPP.
Speaking of bad traits, I must say that this dogmatic stance taken by the AFC on this issue is very suspect since no one thinks it is a good idea, many feel it is immoral and it has brought the party nothing but trouble. Another aspect of good leadership is being humble enough to learn from those around you, yet it would seem the AFC feels it above the requisite to learn from others and subsequently adjust its precarious ideology appropriately.
In fact, this whole escapade leaves one with the distinct taste of party paramountcy since it seems quite obvious that the AFC does not wish to take into consideration the desires of the people. Isn’t this the very philosophy your party purports to be rejecting?
It seems there must be another reason for this dogmatic stance that has not yet been made public so we can all understand why the AFC would sacrifice its integrity, and possibly its chance at a real shot in the upcoming elections, instead of catering to the people’s will.
I know the “Gang of Three” might think they appear strong against the giant shadows of the former parties, but in all honesty it does not come off that way at all. Instead it appears the AFC does not have the capacity to grasp the will of the people and make the necessary adjustments – and all of this before you ever get into office.
Sheila, I wonder if you and the other two realise that many who are calling for your resignation from these seats are actually supporters of your movement and in the process the AFC is truly losing ground. We want to see integrity and transparency, and since the rationale being used to justify this stance does not seem to add up, we have to wonder what the real reason could be and why the AFC is not being upfront about it.
It really is time to get this thing taken care of once and for all and get on with building a solid party. The AFC needs to either give us some solid explanations that we can swallow or return to the other parties their rightful seats.
Sheila, as women we know how to communicate quite well. So tell me girlfriend, why is your new party refusing to vacate the seats that belong to these other parties? I hope you fare better than the guys did in providing a response that is believable and substantive. Let’s talk this thing through in a manner worthy of our strong matriarchal heritage so the people can know for sure if they can indeed trust the AFC.
Other Columns on this subject:
Stella Says…It Is Trotman’s Turn This Time
Stella Says…Khemraj, Let's Go Shopping!
Stella Says…Freddie, Tell Me What You Think About the AFC Now
Stella says…It Is Never Easy To Do The Right Thing