The PPP’s thinking is strange and abnormal
(By: Keith Williams)
Martin Luther King Jr., the martyred African American civil rights leader, espoused a fundamental principle that must serve to guide the actions and reactions of citizens of Guyana who seek to usher into our Nation’s experience, real democracy, measurable equity and transparency in the distribution of our collective resources, and an end to the dystopian direction in which our nation is currently being driven. Recognizing that activism in such pursuit inevitably elicit aversive repercussions and actions from enablers and beneficiaries of the status quo, with the sole intention of discrediting or arresting such activism, Martin argued that quote, “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right”. There have been few examples in our Nation’s experience where Political Leaders chose to adopt this guiding principle in their parliamentary functions to review and vote on budgetary and other considerations. However, the citizens of Guyana and the world watching on over the past week, witnessed the parliamentary majority opposition, comprising of the APNU and AFC, doing exactly that as they reviewed and voted on the budget presented by the PPP Parliamentary minority.
Doing the right thing is not always popular under all circumstances, and when doing thus affect the plans and strategies of those accustomed to wielding absolute power over certain functions, well…..we have been witnesses the kind of reactions that ensue. Paraphrasing Kwame Toure and Charles Hamilton in their work, “Black Power The Politics of Liberation in America”, “….Whenever the members of a leadership clique within any society have enjoyed for a considerable period of time certain opportunities for getting wealth, for exercising power and authority, and for successfully claiming prestige and social deference, there is always a strong tendency for these people to conclude that these powers and benefits accrue to them because of some self defined right or fiat”. For two decades the PPP parliamentary majority has been exercising ultimate authority over budgetary amounts and allocations, with exorbitant and vaguely defined expenditures partisanly targeted to benefit political associates and allies. We can well remember a President feeling comfortable with parceling out millions of the state’s money to an individual hotelier while standing fast on his and his party’s resolve not to address economic conditions in Buxton. Today, the PPP political leadership have become so entrenched in the hubristic philosophy that come what may it is their way or the highway, that even though the electorate choose to curtail electoral dictatorship by separating political ownership of the two major branches of power, the Executive and the Legislative, they react to the natural and democratic manifestation of this electoral choice with the petulance of an out of control urchin who wants all of the toys for himself, and throws raucous tantrums when he fails to get his way.
In examining and analyzing the PPP’s reaction that the budgetary cuts recommended by the opposition will hurt occupational areas like the Public Service and other low and medium income economic niches, one must seek to juxtaposition such concern with the regimes’ previous attitude when the economic livelihood of individuals and groups were threatened by political, social and economic vicissitudes. For example, what was the reaction of the regime when Rusal fired Bauxite workers for taking industrial actions on labor issues? How concerned was this regime about the economic survival of the New Building Society Managers whose entire life came crumbling down after they were arrested for crimes they did not commit, and were in fact innocent pawns in larger corrupt schemes that have become something of a norm in Guyana today? What about the 9 poor Sugar workers from Enmore? What are their economic survival odds after being summarily severed from the income source upon which they and their family’s existence were dependant? If we agree that compassion, a sense of fairness, concern for those at the lower levels of the economic pyramids are not things one can turn off and turn on at will, then this sudden epiphanic shift in the consciousness of the PPP regime must be seen and identified for exactly what it amounts to. A devious prostituting of the fears of people they have historically showed no concern for, with the single motive of weapon zing that fear to retake the absolute parliamentary control to which they have become obscenely accustomed.
Lord Acton’s observation that “…..all power tend to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely….” cannot be more tangibly manifested than in the happenings in Guyana today. Whether those in leadership of the PPP today came to the table without this predisposition and were lured into it by the surfeit of power they enjoyed from our winner take all political and parliamentary system is open for speculation. What is not open for speculation however, is the fact these people have been displaying an inebriation with power that is nauseatingly offensive. From Ministers of the Government and associates choosing to flout the basic tenets of our judicial pre-requisites, that every citizen must be entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence, justice must not only be done, it must manifestly appear to have been done, to invasion of polling places and assaulting of officials in those places, the PPP leadership exhibits an alien disconnection with fundamental and internal moral and ethical compasses that prescribes and orders sobre-temperamented judgments, attitudes and behaviors in people. So much so that they can accept their monopoly of state assets like the print, audio and audio/visual media as an entitlement, and the rights of the opposition and the majority that casted a vote for them to have equal access as things which they, the PPP, had no duty or obligation to recognize or respect. And no where in this world is this kind of thinking normal.