By The Piper
2015 saw some real changes, many of them good; others still to prove their worth over time. Some things have continued, the most important being the daily accusations of racism by everyone, against everyone.
The first thing up is that we now have a real multi-party coalition in government. That is a good thing, especially since the PPP was in office for two decades. The APNU is the dominant force but could not have been in office without the AFC. I do not mean to throw a punch, but at times it appears that the PNC has forgotten that little fact.
One dimension that is absolutely different is that for the first time Guyana has a ‘military man’ as president. So far Granger has used his military training to good effect, meaning that he knows when to fight, when to send others in front, or yet still, when to stay put.
The Office of the Prime Minister has been ‘demoted’, replaced as it were in power and influence by the Ministry of the Presidency. Joe Harmon, also a military guy, now seems to have the power of Sam Hinds and Roger Luncheon combined. Many see, and perhaps rightfully so, that the new office hatched for Harmon is a shift in the constitutional distribution of power. The issue is not only one of further concentration of executive power, but also of putting more power in the hands of the coalition’s dominant partner. Time will tell how good or bad this is for democratic governance.
Bharrat Jagdeo is now Opposition Leader, and to date has managed to ease into the new role without too much controversy. Jaggy, however, remains a deeply controversial figure in the PPP leadership. The old Jaganites still do not like him. Worse yet, the same holds true for many young politicians who actually owe their careers to the former president. We know for sure from the public airings of former PPP big ones Ralph Ramkarran and Moses Nagamottoo that the source of the problem was, (to use an old PPP word), a dastardly manipulation of the process for the selection of Ramotar back in 2011.
If Ramotar was a personal choice of Jaggy in 2011, apparently so was running-mate Elizabeth Harper in this year’s election. Harper was actually not only a shock, but a slap in the face because she was hand-picked without any consultation with even cabinet members.
One of the truly good things about 2015 is that there was a basically peaceful transition in government. We should not ever take this for granted, especially since one of the major parties (in this case the PPP) did not, and still has not accepted the results of the this year’s elections. The PPP went so far as to accuse the Elections Commission of helping to manipulate the election results in favour of the APNU+AFC coalition. The fact that the violence was kept to a minimum, is a positive thing for our little democracy.
On the foreign front, the political changes in Venezuela are bound to have long term effects for Guyana. I do not see the threat to Guyana’s sovereignty going any further. That is good news for the country. It may not be so good for the APNU+AFC because having a defined foreign enemy was being put to good political effect.
I leave you with the thought that intellectuals who peddle racism need to do some serious self-reflection. 2016 might be a year that we try-out this rather novel idea!