The following is an opinion piece by Ryhaan Shah
Why are we surprised at the PNC’s post-election shenanigans? Really? After the corruption, institutionalised racism, and election rigging that resulted in the death of democracy and the laying waste of the Guyanese economy and society between 1964 and 1992 because of the stranglehold that the PNC dictatorship had on our country, the PNC never admitted to any of its crimes, misdemeanours and excesses. Neither did they ever apologise for the wreckage they left behind. Neither were they ever held to account by anyone.
Come 1992, President Jimmy Carter spearheaded a mission to return democracy to Guyana. This after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the change in global politics that no longer necessitated Cold War strategies that had, by and large, given President Forbes Burnham a free hand to do as he pleased. That he did, and to Guyana’s detriment. Yet, it appeared, all was forgiven and President Cheddi Jagan never pursued any retributive justice against any of the PNC membership for any of their wrongdoings.
The PPP/C’s governance was not without flaws so it was no surprise that some PPP supporters fell for the slick 2015 election campaign run by the PNC and the parties that formed APNU along with the newly formed AFC, which all presented an attractive alternative for the electorate. Enough were taken in to give the PNC a slim majority to regain the Government.
There were a few voices raised to express alarm, however, especially when the APNU/AFC Coalition campaign rolled out a slogan that called on the electorate to forget the past. Those of us who spoke up saw the danger such wrongheaded thinking represented but were dismissed as PPP stooges, racists, and more.
Anyone who asks you to forget the past is definitely up to no good. We are our memories. Without them, we are amnesiacs walking about with no sense of ourselves and with no sense of what went before. That is the most fertile ground on which a repetition of the past will flourish and President David Granger became very comfortable with expressing his great admiration for his hero Forbes Burnham. This was a slap in the face for history and the truths that inform historical accounts as Granger took to rehabilitating Burnham’s record and image from none other than the nation’s presidential seat.
In 1992, Guyana had to depend on the US in the form of the Carter Centre to right the wrong of PNC election rigging and return Guyana to democratic norms. This time around, sanctions from the US and its western allies, might have to be leverage to remove the PNC from office.
Perhaps, the PNC is emboldened to re-enact its past because it was never held accountable for its crimes and wrongdoings during the Burnham regime. Retributive justice is needed in order for the party to be held accountable for its full history of lawlessness and criminal acts.
This is not about retaliation or revenge; but it would be an offence against Guyana and the entire democratic world were the PNC to be allowed to get away with hijacking an election, and with all the lawlessness that has followed since December 2018 when the APNU/AFC Government should have stepped down following its loss of the No Confidence Vote.
Taking responsibility for one’s words, deeds and actions is behaviour that is expected of civilised people and civilised nations. To allow the PNC this time around to again escape consequences for its lawless and malicious behaviour would be an error in judgement that could create an even bigger problem for Guyana’s future.