by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 12 September 2006)
Stella Says…Now Showing in a Theatre near you, "The folly of the politician"
It never ceases to amaze me when I see politicians act like they have no more common sense than an elephant. Minor episodes of bad judgement can be, and often are, overlooked by a forgiving public. Like when Khemraj Ramjattan did not take my advice and shave his beard. If this party leader was not instrumental in pulling in many votes for the AFC votes, I bet it was due in large part to that blasted beard.
The major mistakes by political leaders sometime border absolute idiocy. This past week has been chucked full of foolhardy decisions, which are particularly disheartening given that we are just two weeks into a brand new term. One would think that it would have taken at least a month before the nation's leaders made any glaringly reckless or impulsive decisions.
However, since these politicians insist on making my job so easy by opening the door wide to a critical analysis of their folly, I will respectfully oblige their invitation and examine two very illogical political moves.
Firstly, there was the AFC's decision to disregard its platform of ethnic balance in appointing those who will represent the party in Parliament. I am not referring to the fact that the AFC leaders obviously angered the wrong person when they chose to omit Gaumatie Singh, who displayed all the statesmanship and poise of a cat with its tail on fire when she did not get her promised seat.
That situation may have been a time bomb just waiting to explode and it seems Trotman attempted to handle the aftermath in the most diplomatic way possible. Too bad they were not quick enough to squelch that fire before it even started (sigh). However, the AFC's big blunder was in not foreseeing how the public would react when it did not take more care to portray an overt attempt at racial balance in appointing its parliamentarians.
This is a colossal gaffe the AFC cannot afford to make at such an early juncture. If this new party truly wishes to be viewed as a party for all Guyanese, then it would have been critical to further this image by its choice of parliamentarians that appear to represent the general makeup of the population.
On the heels of such a huge victory for a third party in Guyana, the AFC should be walking softly and not leaving critical aspects of Guyanese politics – such as race – open for speculation. Yet this is exactly what they have done less than two weeks into the term. Perception is everything in politics and the AFC really dropped the ball on this one.
According to the alleged email exchange between Singh and Trotman, which was made public, the person who was chosen to serve instead of Singh received the position to make sure she was receiving a wage. In other words, the AFC potentially sacrificed their entire image and may have compromised the trust of their constituency just to make sure one person was on the payroll.
I suppose we should just be happy they have their own legitimate seats in which to fight over and that they are no longer highjacking seats from another party.
Speaking of another party, the President did seem to understand that the people wanted some new faces in the Cabinet, but I'm just not sure he changed all of the right faces. Those who were appointed to the Cabinet tells us so much of what we can expect from the PPP during the next five years, just as much as those who were clearly omitted.
Just when we started to think this term would be Jagdeo's time to shine, just when we thought this time around things might be different, just when we were being drawn in by the lure of the "inclusiveness" propaganda – we find that we are right back where we left off last term and that nothing has really changed at all.
It is these types of decisions made by politicians that boggle my mind. For example, Clement Rohee has not displayed an exceptional performance in any of his previous ministerial appointments. Therefore, it seems a bit ironic that Rohee, who has a healthy share of speculative accusations flying about, is replacing the one person who stood up to the drug lords as Home Affairs Minister, Gail Teixeira.
So much for my optimistic faith for clean and accountable leaders, eh? The funniest part of Jagdeo's new Cabinet is that Robert Montgomery Persaud, MBA is now the Minister of Agriculture. Does anyone else remember that photo of Mr. MBA knee-deep in mud after last year's flood while some kindly citizens tried to help him out?
I sure hope he can handle the job and I do wish him well, but I am going to miss him so very much. I hope the Information Liaison replacement is just as entertaining as he has been.
Sometimes I really do not know what goes on inside the head of politicians. It is as if they completely lose all grip on reality and toss their common sense into the trash just before taking office. Or perhaps they just get so arrogant that they forget those for whom they serve and make their decisions based on all sorts of other factors except the most important one – what is best for the people of the nation.
In any case, this term promises to be tons of fun for all. Stay tuned for the showing of "The folly of the politician." It is sure to be along very soon.