By Dr David Hinds
I endorse the spirit of Nigel Hughes’ letter (Guyanese may now be willing to urge their political representatives to talk about urgent constitutional reform before the next elections, Stabroek News, March 2). One opposition entity already has that mandate -- all twenty six of them. The central thrust of the platform that ensured their selection to parliament was -- An End to One-Party Government. I was on that platform, so I know.
Dr David Hinds is a political activist and commentator. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. His writings can be found on his website. You can also listen to Dr Hinds on “Hindsight” on Mark Benschop online radio every Thursday night 8-9 pm at guyanaobservernews.com
We, the APNU, asked the Guyanese people to vote for us to do three major things -- replace the One-Party-PPP government with a Government of National Unity; reform the constitution to reflect the democratic letter and spirit; and bring immediate economic relief to the working and unemployed poor. After gaining control of the parliament, one other promise was added to that list -- oversight of the executive.
Alas, without consulting their voters and without thorough debate among the partners, the first three platform promises have been silenced -- vanished. Only the latter has been pursued. When, a few months ago, I complained about this apparent retreat from the campaign-electoral platform, I was deemed a non-resident, alien, dirty-linen washer, and trouble-maker. Even the party to which I belong, by its ambivalence and silence, seemed to have been offended by my truth telling.
The major accomplishment of the majority joint parliamentary opposition has been the gagging of Minister Rohee, which has been undermined by the rulings of the Chief Justice and the Speaker. They were correct to gag the minister, but I am sure their supporters would prefer them to use their majority to gag the government, or at least attempt to do so. Instead, they have been enablers of one-party minority dictatorship. We have abandoned the people.
To our collective detriment, we have scorned the streets and embraced the parliament as the only forum of struggle. But under the oversight of the opposition parliamentary majority strange things have happened. APNU marchers shot at in Georgetown. Three slaughtered in Linden. One murdered in Agricola. Another gunned down at the Fish Shop. Freddie Kissoon assaulted in public. The Linden Agreements scuttled. The Chinese-Marriot labour scandal. The Chronicle spouts anti-African racism, even from its editorial page. Calypsos banned from the public airwaves. The 1823 African Liberation Monument erected at a place against the will of Africans.
These ills were not committed by the parliamentary majority. But they have done little, if anything to stop them. We are militant against Rohee, but accommodating to Rohee’s government. We walk out on Rohee in parliament but walk in to talk-dialogue with Rohee’s boss at the Office of the President. We agree with the PPP to raise the electricity rates for Linden but have not demanded a similar agreement with the PPP to withdraw the unwritten police licence to shoot innocent Africans. We hound Rohee but remain silent when Rohee’s commissioner of police publicly threatens political activists.
The PPP and the Majority parliamentary opposition, have in one short year, transformed a majority parliament into farce and a minority executive into an absolute dictatorship. They say a people gets the government it deserves. I say our opposition in Guyana gets the government it has nurtured.