GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- The Guyana administration has not taken a decision regarding the South African government’s decision to put off awarding the Order of the Companions of O. R. Tambo (OCOT) posthumously to the late President Forbes Burnham.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said, however, that there are those in the party; friends and admirers of Walter Rodney, who have strong views on the issue.
Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, Luncheon said, “The matter, has attracted individuals in the PPPC government and more that likely will ultimately lead to decision-making by these individuals, but the government is yet to take a principled position for or against the South African government’s decision to grant the award posthumously to Mr Burnham.”
He said, “I know as well as you that there are individuals that hold strong positions on either side of the debate. I am saying to you that the administration has not considered, have not taken a position on one side or the other, individuals have, we have our own personal view, those of us who were friends of Walter (Rodney), those of us who have worked with him, those of us impressed by his scholarship and in his involvement in the third world.”
The South African government had taken the decision to award the OCOT, its highest award that is given to non-nationals, to the late president. The award was scheduled to have been presented to his eldest daughter, Roxanne Van West Charles on April 27, to coincide with the annual “Freedom Day” national honours ceremony in Pretoria.
However, the South African government had to postpone the award following militant opposition from various quarters in the Caribbean, the USA and also among South Africans on whether the late Guyanese president was being honoured for the death of Rodney.
Luncheon also restated the PPPC position as it relates to the Walter Rodney killing and the PNC involvement. He said that, in June 1980, the PPP, then the opposition clearly identified the governing PNC has being responsible for the assassination of Rodney.
He said that, when the matter was actually dealt with in Parliament, the government; the PPPC government and the WPA in particular, Rupert Roopnarine understood that the investigation was essentially an investigation into allegations that it was the PNC, the Burnham-led government that was responsible for the assassination of Rodney.
“I say those things because I do not believe that even though an ultimate position has not been publicised by the administration that we cannot throw these antecedents through the window, we cannot dismiss the 1980s and the subsequent pronouncement that have been made by the PPP in opposition and the PPPC in government as to who should be blamed for the assassination,” he said.
The Tambo Award, named after the late revered leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Oliver Tambo, which has been governing South Africa since the collapse of apartheid, is normally conferred on outstanding foreign personalities for their contributions in helping to bring about the collapse of apartheid in South Africa.
Among recipients of the award over the years from the Caribbean region were the late Guyana president Dr Cheddi Jagan; Jamaica’s late Prime Minister Michael Manley and the former-long serving Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Shridath Ramphal.