Eyewitness: Looking back…



The lives of some men mightn’t be as “sublime” as Wordsworth concluded about the “great” ones, but they still leave some footprints in the sands of time by the time they depart. So it was of Clifton Mortimer Llewellyn John, who didn’t bother much with his first two names during his long sojourn of 95 years on Earth, but did quite well for himself as “Llewellyn John”.

First of all, being born in 1925, he would’ve spent his formative years during the Great Depression, which exemplified the truism that when the US and UK sneeze, Third World colonies like us catch the cold! Not much has changed, has it? John became a lawyer by 1952 the old-fashioned way – through correspondence courses while clerking in a law office (of his father). Reflecting the flavour of the times, he was then a member of the League of Coloured Peoples.

That was the organisation that catered for the “Mixed”, light-skinned, upper-class, conservative mulattoes who preferred to be called “Coloured”. As could be seen from John’s membership, African Guyanese could also qualify if they were of a certain social standing. Being a lawyer gave him that standing. Such fellas would usually marry up to a genuine light-skinned Coloured to cement their position and so did John. She was an outstanding soprano who sang the Guyana National Anthem at the National Park in 1966 when the Union Jack was brought down and the Golden Arrowhead was hoisted for the first time.

John joined Burnham after he split from Jagan’s PPP and formed the PNC in 1958 – along with other LCP politicians like John Carter. He was rewarded with the critical portfolio of Min of Agriculture in 1964 when the PNC was ushered into office by the British with the UF. He oversaw the shift of spending away from Agriculture which the PNC had complained the PPP used to reward its supporters.

In 1967, he became Home Affairs Minister and was put in charge of the new registration process which Burnham instituted in preparation to rig the 1968 elections. He swore, like Burnham, that this registration had nothing to do with the elections list – but which it did to subvert the Elections Commission that had responsibility for this critical task. The padded list facilitated the rig. He then was moved on (and down) to the Local Government Ministry in 1969. By the time of the 1973 big rig and the shift to co-operative socialism, he was left out from the PNC list to Parliament. He was too “right wing”.

He went off to launch his People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), which contested elections desultorily into the new millennium.

Sounds like the history of Guyana, doesn’t it?

…at Local Govt Elections

Did you follow the storm in the teacup by the PNC over Amna Ally’s insistence that GECOM Chair Claudette Singh meet her (and her alone) before any meeting with the full Commission? Now, why would Amna want to hold a private tête-à-tête with Claudette? After the three PNC Commissioners walked out when Claudette put her foot down, they said Amna wanted to discuss the LGE that’s due this coming November.

What’s there to discuss about the LGE? GECOM knows it has to be held, so does the Govt – and certainly the Opposition. If any of the parties think there’s a problem, isn’t it the responsibility of the full Commission to address it? But we know where Amna’s coming from, don’t we? The PNC’s scared sh*tless of another drubbing at the polls and they want to have an excuse to have it delayed.

Your Eyewitness will bet dollars to donuts that they’ll demand a new voters list!

That, of course, will delay the inevitable by a year!

…at COVID-19 vaccination

India has just started the rollout of their COVID-19 vaccination programme for their 1.3 billion citizens. In the meantime, it looks unlikely that we’ll get going before July.

Mask up!