Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has refuted claims being made by the APNU+AFC Coalition that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is on a witch hunt against Afro-Guyanese.
During an appearance on a GlobeSpan 24×7 programme on Wednesday night, Jagdeo posited that the Opposition Coalition is using this charge of vindictiveness against Afro-Guyanese as a means to cover up corrupt acts.
“When we talk about corruption, we’re not saying Afro-Guyanese are corrupt. Any race – Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese – can be corrupt… They didn’t say anything when the Government sued BK [owned by Brian Tiwari] to recover [prime Kingston, Georgetown, properties] that we believe were sold way below the value… We sued Larry Singh [for undelivered $369 million in guns and ammunition]. We sued the other guy, Maraj (of S Maraj Contracting Services) for breach of a $413 million contract for rehabilitation of the Leguan Stelling, but nobody says anything. But if you only go after an Afro-Guyanese, it becomes racist,” the VP contended.
The latest accusation by the Opposition of victimisation against Afro-Guyanese was made just last week when the former Commissioner of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Trevor Benn, was arrested and charged for misconduct in public office over the sale of lands on the East Coast of Demerara.
Jagdeo has pointed out that, in addition to the transaction breaching the State Lands Act, the former GL&SC Head never had the authority to sell any land, which is a power invested only in the President.
“President [David] Granger never gave Trevor Benn the authority to sell lands. He never gave him that authority. That authority has to be gazetted. This guy sold a number of plots to people way below the value. So, apart from the value (of the land), he committed an illegal act. They should be condemning him, but now they’re protesting that it’s victimisation… APNU should say, ‘The party did not approve this, our Government did not approve this’. But now he becomes a victim of the People’s Progressive Party,” the VP noted.
According to Jagdeo, almost all the lands on the East Coast of Demerara that were given away by the Coalition, while it was squatting in office following the December 2018 passage of the No Confidence Motion against it, have been recovered from both Indo- and Afro-Guyanese.
In fact, he reminded that this was in keeping with a pledge he had made even before the March 2, 2020 Elections which got his party into office.
The Vice President went on to say that the most racist Government in Guyana’s modern history has been the APNU+AFC. He reminded that the Coalition fired nearly 2000 Amerindians from the Community Support Officers (CSOs) programme when it took office in 2015.
Jadgeo, who previously served as President for two terms, also drew attention to the closure of the three sugar estates, affecting some 7000 workers – most of whom are Indo-Guyanese.
He further noted that the Coalition accuses the PPP/C of being racist when under its previous 23-year rule, Afro-Guyanese predominated the Public Service and headed many State entities – a practice which has continued even in its current term.
“This group, in an attempt to paint the PPP as racist, talks about Afro-Guyanese not finding a place in the Public Service. Of the Permanent Secretaries that the APNU had, not a single Indo-Guyanese. Look at the composition of the Permanent Secretaries that we have now. It looks like Guyana,” the VP noted.
This publication investigated the former’s President statement and discovered that his claim was completely factual, as substantiated in the Table 1, which are the Permanent Secretaries under the APNU/AFC’s Government versus the Permanent Secretaries under the PPP/C’s Government in Table Two.
The Vice President added that, “The people who are the most racist, who thrive on racism, they have the most self-righteous ways of accusing others of racism. That is what is happening, and they’ve gotten away with it for a very long time because people in Guyana like to tiptoe around these issues.”
Further, the VP Jagdeo explained that these claims against the PPP/C are not only affecting the Government but also young Afro-Guyanese, who are being hindered from tapping into opportunities.
“When you reach out to the communities and you go to a community where people are primed by saying the guy who’s coming is racist and discriminating against everyone, then it sets up a kind of suspicion in the villages and the communities when you want to engage young people. It harms them. They are reluctant to engage. They are reluctant to explore the opportunities. I want young Afro-Guyanese kids see us as their Government too. They must explore every scholarship option, every job option,” he stated.