by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 19 November 2006)
If one read certain letters to the Editor this week, it would seem as if Guyana’s newest political party, the Alliance for Change, is being held to a far higher standard than those other two parties that have been around since the dawn of time.
One letter from a group of three Diaspora printed on November 12 in Kaieteur News entitled, “The deceitful conduct of the AFC leadership,” displayed profound disappointment at the performance of the AFC from the very people who helped it to make a splash onto the political scene.
One would think it was too early to make such a drastic judgement, but as the letter pointed out, the AFC has been shrouded in scandal since the beginning, has not been financially accountable and the trust it managed to gather from hopeful Guyanese has been all but destroyed.
Of course, the actions of the AFC are no different than what the PPP and the PNC have been doing for decades and still manage to somehow get votes every time. So what is the big deal with such naughty behaviour from the newest party?
The AFC campaigned on a platform of change and accountability, a standard to which it is now being held – and rightfully so. Constituents of the AFC voted for change and they voted for governmental accountability. Those who voted for the AFC were the most hopeful of Guyana that perhaps this new party would be the catalyst of a new way of life.
Therefore, when AFC supporters see their new party acting like those stale politicians who refuse to change for the good of the country, it is frustrating to say the least and they feel as if they have been duped once again by yet another group of Guyana’s politicians.
This feeling provoked the aforementioned letter, which said, “Tremendous goodwill from the Diaspora and from Guyanese at home had been extended to the AFC, but the leadership has messed up. Every member of the AFC has a right to ask questions and to demand honest answers. We in the Diaspora will have to re-examine our role as regards the AFC.”
These are some very unhappy Diaspora, most of whom now live in countries where accountability is not only expected in governmental affairs, it is demanded and politicians suspected of corruption are simply voted out of office, like what just happened in America during its Midterm elections.
I have believed for a long time that one of the primary reasons the PPP does not do more to bring Guyana’s Diaspora back home, most of whom are eager to do so, is because the government knows that if they did come back home, they would hold the nation to a higher standard regarding democracy, economic accountability, fiscal development and yes, even corruption.
Guyana’s politicians have been allowed to get away with so much that would not be tolerated in many democratic states, such as refusing to allow radio stations that are not run by the government and the fact that Guyana still flounders economically.
Corruption of any sort would not be tolerated and if a government could not contain the crime situation within a reasonable frame of time, it would voted out of office and replaced by a new government that could get the job done.
It seems to me that this is the standard to which the AFC’s supporters hold it. The new party has been expected to demonstrate a new brand of politics in Guyana, an expectation that has so far been out of their reach.
Another letter carried by Stabroek News listed seven actions that should be taken by the AFC to make good on its campaign promise of change and to redeem itself to those who voted for the new party.
It is good to see a swing in the mood of Guyanese politics that expects something better than what they have been receiving from the PPP and PNC. It seems there are some who have opened their eyes and realised they have been fed slop for decades when they should have been receiving the best of the banquet table.
Those who have opened their eyes now refuse to go back to the slop, which is why they are pushing the AFC so earnestly to rise to the occasion and be the party they promised the country they would be. Grassroots groups are the ones who put the AFC into power and if the AFC does not comply with their wishes, these groups will not think twice about removing them from power.
For the AFC, they have no choice but to fulfil the wishes of their constituents because these visionaries will accept nothing less. If the AFC does not deliver, it will be gone after the next elections – again, rightfully so.
I hope this new tone grows exponentially over the next few years and is acted upon in the next general elections when it should be applied the PPP and the PNC as well. When every Guyanese catches the vision of a government of the people, by the people and for the people – and refuses to settle for anything less – that is when things will truly begin to change for Guyana.