by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 5 September 2006)
There is a phrase used when people talk about a father who neglects his responsibilities as a parent. We call that person a deadbeat dad. However, it often seems as if Guyana has had the same type of problem when it comes to their representation from opposition parties.
There were so many times in the last year that I wondered time and again about the very existence of Guyana's primary opposition party, a group that represented almost half of the nation's population last term. This is most bothersome since it negates the accountability factor that is vital in any healthy democracy.
I know all of the excuses for this apparent apathy from the PNC last term. I have heard them all. The PPP will not let them do anything to upstage the sitting government. The PPP will not give them money. The PPP is mean and bad and plays ugly.
While all of this might very well be true, there is still absolutely no reason for the PNC to leave its constituency out in the cold simply because the PPP has been incapable or unwilling to conform to its role as a democratic government.
I can think of so many ways the PNC could have been true to its constituency regardless of how the PPP acted. However, for some reason the PNC felt their hands were tied and they became a deadbeat opposition.
The people are the ones who suffered in the end with the loss of their voice in government and they were none too happy about it, which was obvious from the recent elections where the PNC lost much ground to a new credible opposition group, the AFC.
Normally, I am an advocate of cooperative politics. When various political entities work together toward one goal, it is simply amazing to see what can be accomplished for the nation. This is what makes President Jagdeo's new desire to play nice with others a very interesting turnaround.
However, I could not help but notice that the AFC has said it will not be joining any informal coalition arrangements in Parliament. At face value, this statement may seem pretentious and uncooperative. However, given the fact that the nation's long-time leaders have done so very little to bring progress to the nation, maybe it is better that the AFC isolates itself from these slackers and raises a new standard of governing in Guyana.
It seems that if the AFC can be a bit more creative than the PNC has been in the past as an opposition party, then perhaps it can find ways to effectively represent its constituency without any money or support from the ruling party.
Another aspect to consider with the introduction of this new opposition group is that the PNC must now step up their game for this next term if they plan to stay alive past the next five years. If they continue to spend their entire time yelling foul again and accomplish nothing for their voters, those votes will be gone in 2011 as well.
Taking this to another level, the PPP knows full well that their days are numbered too if they perform as badly in the next five years as they have in the past. The introduction of a new opposition has changed the entire political landscape in just a few short months.
However, I cannot stress how vital it is that the AFC perform well in the next five years. They have to stay above reproach on issues of accountability, find ways to help Guyana progress (with or without the support of the PPP), reject all forms of corruption and be quick to deal with those in the party who succumb to bribes and corrupt practices and they must address the national issues that impact the people the most.
These are all points on which both the PPP and the PNC have fallen short and on which the AFC can solidify their presence in Guyana's government. On the contrary, if they end up just like the other two parties, then they can be tossed with the rest of the deadbeat politicians in 2011.
Ever the optimist, I want to believe the introduction of this new opposition party will bring the change Guyana so desperately needs. Then again, I was naïve enough to believe the nation was ready to shed its racial voting pattern too.