EYEWITNESS: Getting on…


…in years

The PNC’s about to turn 60 and under the fig leaf of its APNU cover, it’s busy painting the towns (and country!) green. In case you didn’t put “two and two” together, that means the PNC’s almost a decade older than independent Guyana!!  It also means the PNC has a history and an institutional memory and debts to pay – not to mention skeletons in its closet it mightn’t want to have unearthed at this time!!

The history of the PNC is all about its “Founder Leader” Forbes Burnham – of that there can be no doubt. Refusing to play second fiddle to Cheddi Jagan, who he never saw as his intellectual or social equal, Burnham rose to power on the back of two powerful forces – the urge of African Guyanese to take their “rightful place” in a Guyana that, after WWII, everyone knew that Independence had to come. It was only a matter of time.

The other force was the Cold War that had already generated much heat in 1953, when the PPP, with Jagan and Burnham respectively Leader and Chairman, was ousted from office for being “too leftist”. Burnham saw which way the wind was blowing and soon moved from being one of the most strident leftists to being an exemplary (to the West!) “moderate”.

One could make a case that Burnham was caught in these two structural forces like flotsam on the ocean and the split from the PPP to launch the PNC was as inevitable like in those Greek tragedies of yore.

The virtual civil war between Jagan’s and Burnham’s partisans played out like the Peloponnesian War – with the CIA, like the Grecian gods, pulling the strings from the clouds of Mt Washington.  Burnham emerged as ruler of Guyana with the PNC soon declared the “paramount party”. See the resemblance in the present configuration? The attitude to the Judiciary? The contempt for the PPP? The “jobs for the boys” and girls? That’s the institutional memory taking over: the present PNC leadership don’t have to think – they just remember what the Comrade leader would’ve done!

The skeletons, of course, are too numerous to mention…but they’re surfacing on their own accord. The rigging of the 1968, 1973, 1980 and 1985 elections are there to be examined in all their sordid details in the declassified files of the US and British archives. But look at the new registration list that’ll be created by Winston Felix – and which will drag on to take the elections into 2021 – and you’ll get a flavour of that skeleton. Ditto with the trial balloon to bring back “overseas voting”.
It’s PNC reloaded!!!

…with land

It was a surprise to many when Lincoln Lewis, trade unionist extraordinaire fighting for the working class for donkey years , announced he’d been a member of the feudal land-owning class all along!! You could’ve knocked over your Eyewitness with a feather! Being lectured by the likes of Jagan and Burnham ad nauseam, he’d assumed feudalism had been overthrown by the bourgeoisie running dogs of capitalism!

It was at the land Commission that Lewis dropped his bombshell. His great-great-great-great-great (etc) grandfather on his mother’s side had bought this village in Berbice back in the day after slavery. According to Lewis, his maternal ancestor (that’s easier!!) and his kin occupied the southern half of the village, and before long, the northern side became inhabited.

So now comes Lewis claiming seignorial rights over the land. But can a lord of the manor represent the great unwashed masses? Decisions…decisions!

…with UG wages

The 10th VC of UG (or should that be VC 10?) just drew the line on wages for the UG staff.  Eight per cent for support staff (read folks doing manual labour) and six per cent for academic staff who teach.
Like the Government, the VC’s Cabinet received their 50 per cent earlier!!


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