by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 14 March 2006)
So far this year, there has been a call from the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA) for Afro-Guyanese to boycott the elections and a call from Home Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira to boycott the businesses of drug lords.
The PNC has said it is considering a boycott on the elections too if the party does not find acceptable terms from Guyana Elections Commission. The ACDA went ever further and demanded a Constitutional reform.
I have yet to seriously address the call for a boycott of the elections because I like to watch the responses and see what others think about such drastic measures. My initial response was to envision the Indian half of Guyana’s population going to the polls on Election Day, while the African half stayed home in protest.
It seems to me that this whole idea would be like the Afro-Guyanese shooting themselves in the political foot. If one does not go to the poll and cast one’s vote, then one cannot expect to be properly represented in government.
I understand the frustration with the “winner take all” system, but the system needs to be changed through a proper restructuring process and not by throwing down a gauntlet and saying, “If you don’t make this system fair, then we just won’t vote.”
The current government would probably be quite happy if the supporters of the opposition did not so up this year because that is the only way I think they will be able to remain in power. If most of the nation shows up, like usual, I truly believe the PPP will lose its majority in Parliament.
With a more equitable distribution of representation, including the new third force party, that is when Parliament can begin the process of reforming Guyana’s Constitution and thereby instituting a far more effective system of governance.
If every Guyanese goes to the polls this year, I think the current administration is done for. Their foundation of support is crumbling daily and they haven’t one solid accomplishment on which to stand and proclaim a successful tenure.
They have not brought significant economic growth, they have not increased the overall standard of living, they have not decreased crime and they have not ended corruption. If anything, this administration should be scampering off with its tail between its legs. This past month alone is testament enough of the government’s utter failure in regards to its responsibility to the people of Guyana.
The one sparkling difference is the brave Gail Teixeira, who didn’t pretend to be ignorant of the nation’s problem with drug trafficking. She even went so far as to tell the nation to boycott the businesses of the drug lords.
Of course, in typical PPP fashion, when Teixeira later attempted to clarify her statement strong statement, she left us all scratching our heads in confusion again. I truly hope she does not cave into pressure and back down on her strong stance.
She has been the one person in the government to actually have the chutzpah to publicly take a strong stance for the nation rather than dish out a bunch of gibberish and dodge reality. She treated the nation like they were intelligent enough to understand the situation instead of offering the characteristically patronising claptrap we have become accustomed to receiving from the government.
For that reason alone, she has my support and I hope beyond hope she is strong enough to withstand the pressure she must be under to fall in line with the party’s expectations. If anything, the PPP should be using Teixeira’s daring act as an example to remedy their weak disposition.
In short, Stella Says please do not boycott the elections. Your vote could be the one that changes Guyana. However, do boycott the businesses (and the shops) of those villainous drug lords. Give them ample reason to pack up their operations and leave Guyana for good.