More than anything else, the opposition PNC/APNU/AFC combined, after 2011, made “corruption” their major plank against the PPP government. They certainly couldn’t do anything about the PPP’s highest growth rate in the region!! Supported by a vicious spit-press, they got some mud to stick; and along the 23-year “incumbency factor”, was probably the reason for the PPP losing the 2015 elections by a whisker.
In their manifesto, the combined promised to eradicate corruption by Government officials through a “Code of Conduct” that would be enacted in the first 100 days!! It was Number 16 on their hit parade, and declared: “A Code of Conduct will be established for Parliamentarians, Ministers, and others holding high positions in government public office to abide by, including mechanisms for demitting office if in violation of the Code of Conduct.”
The PPP had protested without effect; they’d passed an “Integrity Act” early in their administration which demanded that all MPs and Ministers etc should declare their assets annually to the Commission that was established. The PNC, and then the AFC, refused to comply – even though it was the law of the land!! With this as the background, the populace waited with bated breath for the PNC-led Coalition APNU/AFC government to enact their Code of Conduct by the end of June 2015 – the promised date.
Well, with THREE YEARS in office coming up fast and furious, your Eyewitness hopes the populace isn’t still waiting to exhale – since the promised Code of Conduct is still just that — a promise!! In the beginning, though, the coalition did deploy a lot of smoke and mirrors to claim the Code was forthcoming. As corruption scandals broke in waves over them – from Jubilee Park to Pharmagate etc – Trotman announced the PRINCIPLES of a Code that were so rarefied it sounded like a remake of the Sermon on the Mount!!
This was handed off to PM Nagamootoo, who was bereft of a portfolio, having been screwed out of chairing the Cabinet!! By now a year had passed, and Nagamootoo announced this Code could be integrated with the Integrity Act – which they’d flagrantly denounced only two years before!! He handed the “Code” to the parliamentary drafters. In the meantime, the corruption in high places grew like Topsy…including the signing of the oil contract.
Another year had passed, and Nagamootoo finally tabled the amended Integrity Act in June 2017 in Parliament. Hope sprang afresh in the bosoms of the faithful – but your (jaded) Eyewitness knew better. And said so!! Another year later, an INTEGRITY COMMISSION – under unchanged laws from the derided PPP version – was set up!
And the Government’s boasting about addressing official corruption!!
“Justice” in the legal system we inherited from the British is represented by the blindfolded Roman goddess Justicia holding a sword and scales. The blindfold’s supposed to signal that Justice would ignore personal characteristics like race and (party) affiliations, and disputes would be settled impartially. But in the case the PNC-led APNU/AFC government’s been building against the PPP officials under SOCU, it does seem Justice is being made to peek under the blindfold while her scale’s seriously unbalanced!!
But the biggest violation of Justice in the SOCU Pradoville case is on what the sword’s supposed to represent – swift delivery of Justice. Truly, it’s been said: “Justice must be swift, sure, and seen to be done, or it’s not done at all”. The audit on the Pradoville land transactions was done way back in 2015 by no other than Chris Ram. What’s the matter? Ram left out some “shenanigans”?? So why not say so?
But we all know what’s going on, don’t we? It’s all dirty PNC politics, where being railroaded is “justice”!
In the petty and sick denial of the centenary commemorative stamps for Cheddi Jagan, the bard said it best: “O Judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!”