by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 01 Jan 2006)
There is no doubt about it, 2006 will be a year of reckoning – not just in Guyana, but all over Latin and South America. The Economist heralded it as “Latin America’s year of the voter” because no fewer than nine countries in the region will be holding Presidential elections within a 12-month time span.
These countries include Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Venezuela and Chile. In fact, it is likely that Chile will elect its first female president this month. The presidential race in Mexico will be an interesting one as well. However, we will all be transfixed on one specific race – the one right here in Guyana.
I believe 2006 will be the year when the two primary parties will lose significant footing and a third force party will move itself into place to get a real shot at governance. That is not to say that the PPP and the PNC will fade away altogether – yet, but that this year is the beginning of the end of these political dinosaurs, as we know them.
The driving factor for this shift will be a combination of the frustration factor and the growing population of those who no longer use race as a seminal issue in the voting booth. I believe the frustration factor will have the most impact on the voters, who are ready to try anything – which includes dumping their former political affiliations – to see some measurable progress.
It is highly possible that as the frustration factor becomes apparent to these established parties, some noteworthy modifications could be imposed to give the appearance of a party that is decidedly pro-Guyana. This would be a positive development for the voter, since the changes would no doubt be catered to the demands of the people.
As such, I believe some obvious alterations to the make-up of the PPP and PNC are in order. I warn you that these changes I am about to suggest will not be popular with our good friends in office, but would nonetheless serve to produce the type of results that should be expected in a nation that is desperate for a promising future.
Firstly, the PPP needs to cut the apron strings. Janet Jagan and her dated politics are holding the party back from its full potential. Every once in a while I see a glimpse of a rogue idea that is outside of the PPP party line, but it is quickly reeled back in for the sake of a united front.
The problem with this type of leadership strategy is that it stifles any brilliance or potential that may actually exist. Guyana is in dire need of a government that encourages the free exchange of ideas from its leaders in an environment that promotes open dialogue.
There is a reason no new ideas are being implemented by the ruling party, it’s because they do not have any. They do not have any new ideas because they are all afraid to present a unique thought that is outside of the acceptable comfort zone because Granny (as Peeping Tom calls her) is going to think someone else is trying to move in on her throne.
If the PPP knows what is good for it, they will toss the throne right along with the decrepit politics and start a fresh movement that is racially inclusive and people focused. In fact, when the voters start showing symptoms of the frustration factor, I think this is exactly what will happen.
Further, the PPP needs to understand that the people are simply too smart to fall for the nonsensical propaganda that Persaud and his staff have the gall to deliver. The sooner the PPP wakes up and realises this point, the sooner they will stop making fools of themselves and can focus on making the pipedreams they promise a reality.
Secondly, the PNC truly needs a complete renovation too. I am not talking about just a new layer of paint. It needs to tear the house down and rebuild it with a completely new look. Corbin simply lacks the charisma needed to sustain a booming party that appeals to the voters.
Instead, the PNC needs some fresh blood out in the forefront with sharp minds and an energetic spirit. I caught wind of their new crime strategy, which is far more comprehensive than I expected, and was impressed by the original ideas it presented (more on this soon). This originality and innovation needs to be applied to the face of the PNC to create an image that is far removed from the failures of the past and ready to help build a strong nation.
The AFC/GTF is of great interest to me as well. I believe there are a number of fine people in these groups, but I also think there are some who just wanted to start a new party because they were mad at their old party and in the process brought the same old political baggage and hopeless tricks acquired in their former positions into their new affiliations.
I told these two groups months ago that they needed to play nice together if they wanted to be taken seriously. This advice still holds true today. These groups need each other if they want to make a dent of any consequence in the upcoming elections. I know both parties want to be THE third force party, but it is politically unwise to make the people choose between two forces when common sense dictates that there should be only one third-force party right now.
There is little doubt that 2006 will be a year of reckoning in Guyana. The people will wise up and hold the politicians accountable for their complacency and incompetence, which will cause a distinct shift in the way politics is practiced.
By changing the political landscape, Guyana will also be changing its economic and social landscape. In my opinion, it would be in the nation’s best interest to see a nearly equal distribution of power in Parliament that includes all three parties (PPP, PNC and a united third force party). This would compel the leaders to learn how to compromise and work together – and we might even see something significant get done for a change.
This year is the year to nix the tricks and conflicts that have burdened the nation. Last year was a wake up call for Guyana, which saw flooded streets as a result of governmental neglect and crime sprees that seemed orchestrated. This year, those who govern will learn to clean up their act. This is a year of reckoning. This year is the year of the voter.
The one unpredictable facet of 2006 is whether it will see the safe return of our beloved Freddie Kissoon from the depths of the political subjectivity. We all know how much of a vice-like grip the AFC can have on inanimate objects, like seats. We can only hope the independent spirit that still lives deep inside our champion can find a way to wiggle free from the talons of abstract political partiality and return to us again.