September 28, 2016

The enemy is within us

In my last column, I made the point that the PPP has to do some serious soul-searching following the loss of its parliamentary majority in the last two general elections, in order to sanctify and reform the Party and become a government in waiting. Shanie Jagessar raised a question about the moral advantage I referred to regarding the fact that Walter Rodney fought to secure a better life for all Guyanese during the Burnham PNC dictatorship. For the record, the GECOM list of voters does not list such a person, so it makes me wonder whether this person is operating under a pseudonym.
In Ms Jagessar’s words “Dr Baytoram Ramharack writes about what he sees as the ‘moral advantages’ in Africans standing up to Burnham’s excesses. But he surely cannot dismiss the stand that ROAR and GIHA took against the PPP/C Government’s excesses for which both groups were condemned by the PPP/C, and the PNC and African leadership as racists”. Her point being that Rodney’s actions were directed against an illegal regime, but the PPP/C was a democratically elected government, despite its excesses. Therefore, in her mind, there is no moral equivalent.
Indeed, Rodney was fighting an illegal regime, one which the PPP could not remove from office, until the US decided to correct its mea culpa after the demise of the Cold War. Anyone old enough to remember the PNC’s “28 years” would not wish to relive those days. But let’s examine some of the excesses Ms Jagessar is probably referring to. One, there is the issue of D. Bheri Ramsarran, whose transgressions for conduct unbecoming of a Minister, were ignored by President Donald Ramotar. Two, there is the case with Anil Nandlall, (the Minister responsible for ensuring that our laws are upheld) whose recorded conversation with a reporter leaves much to be desired. Three, there is the serious allegations against Dr Leslie Ramsammy, whose alleged involvement in securing electronic spying equipment for Roger Khan is bound to be exposed as the US is now willing to provide court transcripts to the Granger Administration to investigate the crime spree following the prison break. These types of excesses would have resulted in resignations and criminal prosecutions in other countries. Cheddi Jagan would never have allowed these excesses to go unpunished. He took action to fire one of his close associates, Edward Beharry, in his 1957 Government for transgressions involving his company and the Demerara Tobacco Company.
One can argue that this is politics as usual. But the consequences are dire, particularly for Indians, who Ms Jagessar is no doubt genuinely concerned about.  These excesses are the reasons the majority of Indians today are at a great disadvantage when it comes to their security. It should come as no surprise to Ms Jagessar that despite the Rodney/PNC affair, Africans have reconciled their differences when it comes to keeping the PPP out of office. In the case of the PPP, the leadership has gone all out to destroy anyone who opposed the PPP, particularly Indians. The damage has been done. The PPP will never be able to win over a majority again, particularly since Amerindian and Mixed people will not likely vote for the PPP, at least not in the near future. The consequence is that the PPP has compounded the problem for Indians.
The fact remains that after 23 years in office, the Army, Police and the Civil Service, the real seat of power, remain disproportionately dominated by Africans, even in our multi-ethnic society. The PPP made all the excuses in the world against balancing these institutions, despite the fact that every Commission of Inquiry, including one in which Granger participated, and the recent Rodney Commission of Inquiry, called for a logical and acceptable balance in the military. Its unwillingness to address this issue resulted in the inability of the PPP to eclipse the crime wave led by the so-called “Buxton liberators” or the anti-Indian violence that GIHA and ROAR rallied against. With the PPP in Opposition, it is now monumentally more difficult to create a balanced military that is reflective of our population.
Blaming the loss of political power on “arrogance” is only the tip of the iceberg. Leaders must take responsibility for their failure to lead and their failure to address the needs of their constituency. While the PPP leaders were consumed with their excesses, they dropped the ball on Indian security.
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