LETTER: Why is the PNC trying to go back to the 1985 system?


Dear Editor,
To properly understand the gravity of David Granger’s uninterrupted juvenile frolic pertaining to the appointment of the Chairman of GECOM, one must walk back to the year 1985.
Forbes Burnham died in August 1985, and was succeeded by Desmond Hoyte. Guyana, in 1985, was hoping for a fresh wind of change with Burnham’s death. The PNC dictator was dead, and that development presented the nation with a golden opportunity to repair itself. The holding of free and fair elections, and elections free from fear, in December 1985, was the first imperative to put Guyana back on the progressive path.
Unfortunately, Hoyte stubbornly refused to budge on any of the prerequisites to hold free and fair elections. Although, as a former Minister of Finance, he was aware of the situation: that the nation was in a race to the bottom, he refused to institute reforms. Some insiders told me that he was afraid of the PNC strongmen at that time, especially around issues such as his personal security. Thus he complied with the “dictats” of those strongmen. And, most importantly, he refused to demolish the system by which the Elections Commission Chairman was unilaterally appointed by the Head of State without consulting anyone, in a monarchical manner.
At that time, we had an Elections Commission Chairman, Sir Harold Bollers, who was nothing but a post box or a glorified rubber stamp. His role was just to pass documents and messages between interested parties. And at that time, there was one Roy Hammond, who was the PNC man parading as the Chief Elections Officer, but was taking instructions directly from the PNC Minister of Home Affairs, rendering him into a political poodle of the PNC.
The end result from this immoral structure was that those 1985 elections turned out be the most rigged, manipulated, and crooked elections in the entire history of Guyana.
In 1985, Desmond Hoyte made Forbes Burnham look like a church boy in the art of rigging elections.
The majority of this nation, (not only the PPP), including non-political players like the Electoral Assistance Bureau, the Private Sector, the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church; along with friends of democracy in the diaspora, the International Community, and the Carter Center, among others, has since been able to leverage the powers of the United States of America to isolate the PNC politically, financially and diplomatically.
The situation was made untenable for the PNC cabal to the point that no one internationally wanted to do business with them. Hoyte relented and did the right thing. What Hoyte did in 1991 was that he placed his country first, rather than his party, and facilitated free and fair elections in 1992. It was not an easy road, but by not promoting Granger (seen then as one of the PNC hardliners), but instead promoting Joe Singh, a much more respected professional officer to head the GDF, he had the professional leadership in the Army to walk Guyana back into the arms of democracy.
There is a lesson to learn from this act of Hoyte’s.
By and large, this nation (not the PPP or PNC) took the sensible road to ensure that the Carter/Price Model was instituted for the 1992 elections. In an article written in the Stabroek News of April 7, 1991, Hoyte was quoted as saying that he “will seriously consider a list of five candidates supplied by the Opposition Leader”. History has shown that Cheddi Jagan provided those names, and Hoyte extracted a name – Rudy Collins.
All of Guyana (civil society, political parties and the ordinary man, with the full support from our friends in the international community) collectively rejected the 1985 system at that time, and there is no reason to believe that my nation thinks differently today.
So why is the PNC trying to go back to the 1985 system?
We must all reject this push by the PNC to go back to 1985. That Carter/Price Model achieved segregation of duties. In business, if one person selects the contractors, books the transactions, pays the bills, and reconciles the bank accounts, there is a strong possibility that you can very well be robbed, because there are no checks and balances in the value chain. That is why, in business, we insist on segregation of duties, to allow the internal control systems to protect the business. Similarly, this act of segregating duties, where the Leader of the Opposition selects the list of six names to submit to the Leader of Government, who then selects one, must be seen as one that is inclusive; one that protects the nation from autocratic actions; and one that encapsulates all the key ingredients of democracy.
So what really is David Arthur Granger’s problem? Why is David Arthur Granger on this path that resembles an uninterrupted juvenile frolic as pertaining to the appointment of the Chairman of GECOM? Is it his plan to take this nation back to 1985?

Sase Singh