September 28, 2016

Political discrimination and executive bullyism

Dear Editor,
If anyone needs to be convinced of the road the APNU/AFC is taking this country, then an event that occurred last week should clarify this matter.
It is very clear that this regime is the continuation of the PNC government of the 1970s and ’80s. Their methods of governance are vindictive, at which racial and political discrimination is at its heart.
In the main newspapers last week, there was a notice informing the public that the President had signed an order revoking lands from scores of farmers (small farmers at that). These lands were awarded by the MMM/ADA to small-scale farmers who owned no farming land.
These lands were under the control of a co-op society. Like most co-ops in the country, it was transformed from a ‘co-op’ to a de facto, privately-owned entity.
Four or more persons, claiming to be the executive controllers of these lands, leased it out and were collecting huge rents from its use. They also collected drainage and irrigation fees from persons and never remitted these sums to the MMA.
It is clear that they ran the place as if it was their personal property. These persons owed the MMA some $40M for D&I services.
Many persons, some of whom were members of the said co-op, petitioned the Ministry of Agriculture to disband this entity since it was clearly not a co-op society, but was being used as a tool to allow a handful of persons to get rich.
It should be noted that the four (or more) persons who were solely benefitting from this scheme were leading members of the PNC/APNU in the area.
In 2013, under pressure from many landless farmers from the West Coast Berbice, the MMA engaged in discussions with the landless and poor villagers who issued the call. As a result of those consultations, and the fact that the ‘co-op’ was collecting D&I fees and not remitting it to the MMA, it was decided to grant leases to those villagers.
Some sixty farmers were granted leases amounting to 16-20 acres each. These persons were from the villages where the land was situated and all the farmers were Afro-Guyanese.
After the 2015 elections, the ‘owners’ of the co-op moved to seize the lands from the farmers. They got the police involved and even moved to reap the crops on the land!
Clear evidence of bully-boy tactics – an outstanding characteristic of the PNC/APNU! Some of the farmers took legal action and the court held that the lands were legally leased to the farmers and could not be arbitrarily repossessed.
It was after this court ruling that the PNC used its executive power to repossess the land in favour of the four (or more) PNC activists.
The President signed an order to take away the lands from more than sixty farmers (small Afro-Guyanese farmers) and give it to his comrades from the elite.
A clear judgment of discrimination and vindictiveness can, therefore, be made against the regime from the outcome of this scenario.
The main concern here seems to be the facts that these small farmers were granted lands during the PPP/C administration. Maybe part of the money collected by the PNC/APNU activists went to the PNC’s coffers. The regime also seems upset by the fact that some of these farmers sought legal assistance from former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who took the matter to court and won a judgment in their (the farmers) favour.
Therefore, for the PNC/APNU, this was a sellout by these farmers, who tried to defend themselves and their livelihood from PNC bullyism. Now, they are being taught a lesson not to cross the path of the PNC/APNU. The regime will use state power to smash anyone they perceive as being against them and/or their policies.
The philosophy of the paramountcy of the PNC has been resuscitated. This belief is that the state is the executive arm of the PNC (now APNU), therefore, state power is to be used in the interest of the party.
While one of the main characteristics of governance of the APNU/AFC regime was discrimination against Indo-Guyanese, this kind of discrimination is different.
This is clearly political discrimination at its finest.
Here we have small, vulnerable Afro-Guyanese farmers whose livelihoods are being threatened. The vindictive actions of the regime are to intimidate Afro-Guyanese, who are aggrieved by the actions of the PNC/APNU, to not go against them. They expect such persons to go cap-in-hand and beg for mercy. Approaching the PPP for help is punishable by the loss of one’s livelihood.
This action is a clear case of executive vindictiveness and political discrimination.

Yours truly,
Donald Ramotar

About GuyanaTimes