Pressie, in his role as Leader of the PNC, along with his General Secretary, Basil Williams; other stalwarts of the party; and, most interestingly, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, vowed to continue the legacy of the Founder-Leader of the PNC, Forbes Burnham. It was the 32nd anniversary of the death of the man.
So, the question arises as to what exactly is that “legacy” that’s gonna be unfolding. Well, politically, there’s the “Declaration of Sophia” by Burnham in 1974. This created a political system in which the PNC was declared “paramount” over the state. If there are some today who’re quibbling about the Executive favouring its “perceptions” of the Constitution over the opinion of the Judiciary, they should ponder this: under the “paramountcy of the party”, the PNC flag flew over the Court of Appeal!!
On the legacy of “democracy”, there was also the routine rigging of elections in 1968, 1973, 1980 and 1985 — so the other political parties, like PPP and WPA — were so much window dressing. Is this what we’re to expect in 2020?
On the economy, about which the speakers all extolled Burnham’s moves to “remove poverty”, what are the facts?
In 1989 the McIntyre Report announced that, from being one of the more developed countries in the Caribbean, we were now just above Haiti in the rankings. The entire country was living in general poverty, with Guyana classified as a “Highly Indebted Poor Country”.
By 1992 the UN-conducted Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) showed 43.2% of the populace living below “moderate” poverty, and 28.7% were in “extreme” poverty! And this was AFTER Desmond Hoyte worked for FIVE YEARS to undo Burnham’s economic follies!
With the way the present lot’s handling the economy, they’re already well on their way to fulfil the legacy of Burnham in this area!
But what was most troubling about the speeches extolling Burnham’s “greatness” was that no one even mentioned the circumstance under which he’d assumed office. It was described (most kindly) as a “coup on the cheap” executed by the CIA for just US$3.5M.
But its cost to the Guyanese nation was much more expensive — a virtual civil war between the two major ethnic groups that left 176 dead, communities split, and a massive ethnic cleansing from the Bauxite mining villages that were soon designated as a “town” and named after Burnham – Linden.
Hey! What the heck?
But one thing your Eyewitness won’t disagree with is the claim that Burnham removed “inequality” from Guyana. He certainly did THAT by the time he died in 1985. He made all of us EQUALLY poverty stricken!!
…and GuySuCo’s employment costs
The Government’s complaining about GuySuCo’s employment’s costs outstripping revenues. Well, Duh!! What’d they expect when they officially close Wales Estate, produce NO sugar, and then have to pay 1,700 workers severance pay?? And simultaneously shut down Skeldon factory, because they didn’t fix some boilers and obviously don’t produce any sugar – but have to pay the workers. But that’s not all. They go out and hire ten geriatrics — average age 80 years!! — and pay each of them over $1million a month to be “Interim Managers” in their Central Staff at Head Office!
The mega salaries of the latter, such as marketing etc, are lumped in “employments costs”. When GuySuCo complains about this, it pretends it’s all for the 17,000 field and factory workers.
They don’t let on: some 300 Central Staff rake in about 1/3 of what 17,000 estate workers earn!!
But we all know what this narrative is all about, don’t we? Sugar workers must learn that the wages of not supporting the PNC is being on the breadlines!!
The Muckraker complained their boss wasn’t “given” a broadcasting licence because Jagdeo didn’t follow the law in his allocation of the spectrum. But it’s OK now for Nagamootoo to break the law to now take away licences and award one to him!