Thursday, June 15, 2006

Stella Says…Can the AFC deliver?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 15 June 2006)

There are times in life when you might get an unexpected surprise. Those unguarded moments make life interesting because we never truly know what lies around the next corner. Just such an occurrence happened to me this week.

I was reading an Internet forum for Guyanese on Tuesday where one conversation remarked that the AFC is picking up a lot of support with the younger generation. Although this makes perfect sense, the remark still took me completely by surprise.

It is difficult to gauge any progress the AFC is making because they are not in the news on a daily basis embroiled in one political battle or another, like the PPP and the PNC. Thus, it is sometimes easy to mark such an entity off as out of sight, out of mind.

However, this does not seem to be the case with the AFC after all. One Guyanese on this forum said, "I keep hearing people and I mean lots of people saying 'Alliance boy, the Alliance.' 'I giving the Alliance my vote'."

If this is the case, the very first question I am forced to ask myself is whether the AFC can deliver for Guyana. If we are to be honest with ourselves, it would be irresponsible to vote for such a drastic change without first determining whether this baby party is up for the job.

It seems that when Guyana achieved its independence, those who were entrusted with governing the nation were not ready for the task at hand. This is the case with many of the colonies when they were granted their independence. It is difficult enough to learn how to govern a nation when it is young and just forming.

But to take over the leadership of an already established nation, with previously established problems, this is a task that is most times beyond even the most well-intentioned leaders. The good intentions of early leaders never really got to mature and many of these nations have floundered about for decades.

So what makes the AFC any different from the PPP or the PNC? Does this new party finally have the right type of leaders to help Guyana recover from a long history of problematic leadership? Maybe.

To start with, the AFC has Raphael Trotman, Khemraj Ramjattan and Sheila Holder – all of which are seasoned leaders. Moreover, these leaders have somehow found a way to work together long enough to make this party gel. This is a tremendous feat in Guyana.

How many other politicians have attempted an alliance of this magnitude and failed? It is utterly frustrating to watch supposed mature and intelligent leaders bicker and posture over minor territorial issues when the real focus should be the best interests of the people.

Could it be that Guyana does have some leaders who can see the big picture and work together for the good of the country? I must say that it is impressive just to see the AFC come this far without imploding like many of those other "third party" hopefuls.

What this means to me is that there must be an overarching attitude of compromise from within the party. If so, this in itself is very positive news. If they can work with each other, regardless of their differences, then perhaps they have what it takes to govern a country like Guyana, where the people have spent so much time focusing on their differences that they have forgotten there are some very advantageous commonalties.

However, seasoned leadership and the ability to build a cohesive team from a diverse group of individuals does not exempt the AFC from the temptation of corruption. I truly believe that when an upright and conscientious government finds its way into office in Guyana, that is the day when the people will start enjoying a far better standard of living.

When all foreign aid goes to its assigned purpose, when bribes and kickbacks to government officials are absolutely forbidden, when there is a government who will openly account for the money it spends, when there are leaders who know how to facilitate economic growth – this is when Guyana will be better off.

Can the AFC do this? Can they pull off such an enormous task when historic precedence is pressing down on them to be as corrupt as the last two parties? I cannot answer that question.

However, I can say with confidence that neither of the last two parties have been able to create an effective government that would produce a thriving country. And neither party has found a way to work together for the good of the people. At least the AFC has done this much.

As the PPP and the PNC do everything within their power to divide the nation by race in the next few months leading up to the election, it will be interesting to see if the AFC will find a way to bring their spirit of compromise into Guyanese politics at large.

Email: stellasays[at]

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