by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 08 June 2007)
Just in case you have not kept up on the spat between Tony Vieira and Sheila Holder, allow me to fill you in because this one is just too much fun to miss.
It seems the ever-entertaining Showster Tony Vieira caused a great deal of ire for AFC Vice-Chair Sheila Holder when he suggested that Holder should have sided with the “other opposition parties” concerning a recent decision dealing with a certain nomination for the Appointive Committee.
So what was the Showster’s problem with Holder? Let me whisper it so as not to raise another ruckus…shhh. (She cast her vote for an Indo-Guyanese). Oh my goodness! What was she thinking! How could she have allowed such a travesty to happen?
The Showster seems to be of the opinion that Holder should have stood with the other opposition parties and voted for anyone other than Seepersaud. (He is the Indo-Guyanese). Holder maintained that she cast her vote for the best person for the job (and therefore Guyana) regardless of race.
Therefore, Holder disagreed with the Showster and seems to be of the opinion that this issue is not an Afro-Guyanese thing or an Indo-Guyanese thing, but instead just a Guyanese thing. Whoa, baby! Is the AFC trying to erase that racial line that separates this nation? But that line is so familiar and so comfortable.
If that racial line disappears, what will happen to all those PPP and PNC politicians who use racial fear to intimidate votes from their constituents?
Holder said in a letter to Kaieteur News on June 3, “The AFC is not about maintaining the racial divide that has pretty much threatened to destroy this country. It is our objective to break the practice by, first of all, setting the example, and secondly, by building confidence in the society through the introduction of policies to ensure ethnic balance is achieved in our institutions, and eventually dispel ethnic insecurity generally.”
She even had the audacity to tell Showster Viera, “I reckon that in time, Mr. Vieira and his colleagues will come to realise that the AFC is not a side-kick of the PNCR-1G.” Now that is some big talk from such a baby party.
The drama did not stop there though. A letter to Stabroek News by Aubrey Retemeyer on June 5 said, “Let us not fool ourselves, the AFC votes and parliamentary seats were won and secured primarily on African votes -- the evidence is there for all to see. And it goes without saying that Africans would expect and demand of the AFC that they represent their interests.”
I truly hate to point out the obvious to Aubrey, but those Africans who voted for the AFC did so with the full knowledge that this political party was multi-racial and had an Indian as one of primary leaders. It seems to me that any Africans who voted for the AFC wanted exactly what Holder pointed out in her response to Showster Viera – to break the racial divide.
I have to point out how pathetic it is that the PNC has to send a Showster to bark demands at the AFC in an attempt to somehow whip them into submission under the racially divided flag. As if the PNC does not have bigger problems to keep them busy nowadays.
Moreover, it is so sad that a letter like the one by Aubrey Retemeyer is written with hopes of intimidating the AFC into compliance. Really now, the AFC is the only party making a real attempt at uniting Guyana instead of dividing it racially. Why on earth would any Guyanese want to chastise them for such a noble act?
I may not agree with everything the AFC does, but when a baby party in Guyana has the gall to sidestep the political games with hope of developing a better nation, then we should all applaud this party in unison – not demand that it falls in line with the do-nothing parties that have utterly failed Guyana.
Here is an excerpt from the AFC’s column in last Sunday’s KN edition, “If there was any doubt that politically the idea of a third force has gained currency in Guyana, the AFC has dispelled it. The task before us now is to keep alive the idea of a third political party being capable of rescuing this country from imminent failure.”
This party has big dreams, which is more than I can say for the PNC. I’m not sure Corbin has had a big dream in the entire last decade. If there was a version of American Idol for Guyana’s politics, it is all but apparent that the AFC has the “it” factor that it takes to shine. The PPP and the PNC have the “ugh” factor.
I enjoy watching this baby party as it attempts to grow into its own shoes. It is clear that these last few public statements we have seen from the AFC have been their attempt to let the world know they should be taken seriously. As much as I thoroughly enjoy taking cheap stabs at Khemraj Ramjattan (it really is just so easy), even I have to admit that this party deserves to be taken seriously.
In fact, the AFC might be the only party in Guyana right now that should be taken seriously.