EYEWITNESS: Power…

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…in the city

If the citizens of Guyana needed to be warned about their lemming-like behaviour in voting, Nomination Day for the Georgetown LGE should’ve been a wake-up call. Lemmings, you’d remember, dear reader, are small rodents living waaay up north. And once a year, they jump off cliffs in their countless thousands. There’s been a debate as to whether they actually INTEND to commit suicide, but the fact of the matter is, most of them DO DIE in the rivers below the cliffs.

So here it is, it was time for the good (?) burghers of our once-and-never-again “Garden City” to choose their Mayor and City Council, and guess who the smart money picked to win that prize? The same lot from the APNU slate that’s been there for the past two years – after succeeding the old (and we mean oooold!) PNC strongman Hamilton Green. He’d been Mayor for 22 years!!

While the AFC showed up, they were such a sorry bunch that they were overshadowed by even the URP with their very original and inspirational motto: “Onward, upward, may we ever go”!! At least they accepted their moribund minnow status and had the grace not to add the line, “Day by day in strength and beauty grow”!! The AFC refused to concede they’re now dead meat, and lamely attempted to excuse their pathetic showing by claiming they “don’t believe in theatrics”!! Ha!!

What was significant, though, was the disappearance of all the “independent” groups that had thrown their hats into the ring at the last go-around. Like the Benschop fella. After all the corruption and graft and nepotism and mismanagement at City Hall, you’d think new faces would be popping out of the woodwork like termites! But no!…they all preferred to commit political Hara Kiri.

Then there was also the non-appearance of that anti-parking meter crowd that had made such a splash in front of City Hall. Wasn’t this their chance to show their “widespread support”? In fact, there had been even talk about them being the core of a new national political party!!

But it was clear the APNU contingent, led for the last two years by Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and a bevy of party heavyweights, literally was left with the field almost to themselves. Most figure the PPP — notwithstanding their very earnest and reasonable plans for the City – isn’t going to do much better than in their last outing.

Because of the ethnic lemming imperative, Georgetowners will all be impelled to vote APNU. Never mind they’ll be committing existential suicide with the “same ole same ole”!
It’s all about voting for “we own”, isn’t it?

 …at all levels

Some folks theorised that ethnic voting is focused at the national level, where the prize is the capture of the state, to favour one own’s group in the distribution of the “spoils”. But because it’s been shown that national politicians generally forget their constituents once in power – exemplified by the callous attitude of the AFC towards sugar workers and APNU towards teachers – the thought was, at the local level, folks would be willing to vote more “rationally” for local candidates and groups outside the major parties.

But we know, after the last LG elections, that ain’t necessarily so!! And it’s all to do with the fact that in politics, as in biology, “form dictates function” to a large degree. The assumption of new, more relevant local faces in LGEs depended on the major parties not competing at this level and “blessing” independent local entrants. This was the assumption when LGEs were inserted in the 1980 Constitution.

But both parties balked…and now the political struggle is just transferred one level down!!

…and non-political institutions

Some commentators are surprised PNC/APNU’s playing hardball with the GTU, since the latter isn’t threatening its “power”.

Thing is, the PNC’s conception of power is one of “paramountcy” over ALL the institutions in Guyana – not just those of the state!

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