by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in the Guyana Gazette on 08 Jan 2006)
There it was in big, bold letters across the front page of Kaieteur News’ December 31 front page, “Jagdeo expresses zero tolerance for liars.” When I read this, I felt hope rise up inside of me as I saw the first few words and then crash as I finished the headline.
The hope that rose so easily was in anticipation that Jagdeo was going to get tough on something. It is always a good sign when an administration says it is going to get tough on something. It invokes images of a proactive government that intends to aggressively deal with a pressing national issue.
I felt the excitement rise from deep inside as I readied myself to get tough on something too. Maybe it would crime. Certainly there can be no doubt that someone needs to get tough on crime. Or maybe the President would be getting tough on drug trafficking since this is also a serious matter that requires immediate attention.
There are so many problems the government needs to get tough on – rapists, paedophiles or even litterbugs – and I was ready to get tough too. Imagine my disbelief when instead I realised that Jagdeo was getting tough on liars. Liars?
Jagdeo did not even indicate that he was going to start cracking down on corruption. All he seemed to care about is whether someone was lying to HIM about when the Maduni sluice was opened. It seemed to infer that officials could lie to the people as much as they want; however, if they lie to the President then they will be fired.
After all of this talk about “zero tolerance” for liars, the Guyana Chronicle then reported on January 7 that Housing and Water Minister, Shaik Baksh, indicated that “his ministry will continue to maintain its zero tolerance policy for squatters in housing areas.”
Every day another person is brutally murdered in Guyana, sometimes on the seawall, sometimes in their place of business during a robbery and sometimes in their own homes after the women have been raped. Yet this administration has declared that this year it will have zero tolerance for squatters?
People are getting sick with leptospirosis ('lepto') from contaminated floodwaters and Jagdeo has zero tolerance for liars? Instead, perhaps he should consider a zero tolerance policy for incompetence. Quite frankly, I am beginning to have zero tolerance for the PPP and the Jagdeo administration.
The current government has a severe case of misplaced priorities and the only remedy for this obviously contagious disease is to isolate those who have been exposed and are known to be carriers of the virus, then quarantine them all to a place where they can no longer spread their misconceptions of what is important and delusional hallucinations of progress.
How can one quarantine an entire political party? In the voting booth, of course. Which brings me to my next point, when the people must still wade through the watery streets after the Government promised a year ago to deal with this particular issue, why would any of them remain loyal to them?
Guyana is full of people who have misplaced loyalties to a government of misplaced priorities. Emotional political nostalgia aside, what possible reasons could there be to continue to support a government that has been as incompetent as the PPP has been? Its ineptitude is only surpassed by its complete lack of transparency and accountability.
The people are the ones who put the PPP into office, yet this government refuses to be accountable to those who put it in power. If the government is not loyal to the people, then the people should feel no duty to be loyal to the government. In fact, the people should do everything within their power to remove a government that regards itself to be above accountability.
Guyana needs a government that will be tough on the real national issues, like crime and corruption. Maybe the Jagdeo administration thought it would start small, with liars and squatters, and then move up to the bigger issues from there. More likely, it just does not have a clue as to how to deal with the bigger issues and therefore must make it seem like they are getting tough on something, so they chose liars and squatters.
I wonder if the PPP knows that simply making the sounds of a competent and proactive government does not make them competent and proactive anymore than making the sounds of a cat will make them a cat. It seems this illness of misplaced priority will be their end – they have caught a terminal disease and there is no hope for them now.
The good news is that there is a cure for misplaced loyalties. A simple shot in the arm with a healthy dose of reality will do the job - and a few sessions with a therapist to de-program those who have been exposed to too much PPP propaganda is in order as well.
This cycle of misplaced loyalties to governments who have misplaced priorities is making Guyana appear to have misplaced aspirations on the global economic stage. Until this cycle ends, Guyana cannot expect the world to take it seriously.
The affectionate vibe that accompanies the political nostalgia of party affiliation should promptly be replaced by rational, logical decisions that will address the national issues that actually rate high on the people’s priority list.
When the people start to give their loyalty to Guyana’s future by demanding an effective government - that is when we will start seeing zero tolerance for crime and corruption. Until then, the liars and squatters had better be careful of the Jagdeo administration.