PNC -Burnham era of politics has returned to Guyana
It was a Saturday morning. Suresh was standing at the gate. Meena was busy sweeping. When she looked she saw Suresh.
“Is Raj home?” Suresh asked. Looking upset Meena responded: “Who you mean… the politician? He drink piss whole night and still sleeping,”
“But why you calling him politician?” Suresh enquired.
“He makes promises whole week and when he gets pay on Fridays he heads for the rum shop. He no different from the politicians,” Meena explained. “Raj don’t care about anyone. He only care about himself.”
Wherever you go in the country people appear to be angry with politicians. The complaint is that they are not to be seen. Cottage meetings are not held to interface with the people. “To get your vote they come to you begging. After being elected to office you cannot see them,” Henry lamented. “I fed up. I not going to vote again; not me and politician.”
Political apathy is a feeling of disinterest in politics. Today it is a global phenomenon. Some reasons given for political apathy are electors belief that their votes will not be counted; poor opinion of politicians; the failure of parties to represent the views of the people and a loss of faith in government.
While it is a global phenomenon it is the duty of political parties and politicians to address this issue. Nevertheless, it appears that most politicians enjoy this apathy from the electorate. In this way they are not demanded to account for their action or inaction. Strangely, many citizens refuse to know the name of their MP or constituency in which they reside. Sadly, they fail to see the relevance of politics and go the extreme to label “all them politicians only want to full their pockets.”
Local government elections has a participation of less that 41% of the electorate. One of the reasons for this low voter-turn out is the dependency of the local bodies on Central Government for funding. The electorate understands that local government does not have its independent power. It was observed that local government acts as agents of Central Government and that there is no focus on building communities.
The racial pattern of voting has alienated a number of citizens who wants to participate in government. The race factor takes precedence over national issues. The insecurity of racial identity has truly placed national development on the back burner. The emphasis is never on development but on providing jobs and handouts to party card holders.
The recent no confidence vote by a government member against the ruling APNU-AFC (PNC) government led by President Brigadier David Granger has its foundation on race. Charrandas Persaud, the member of Parliament, who voted against his government said that he did so because sugar-workers (Indians) have lost their jobs with the shutting down of the sugar-cane industry. He also lamented the fact that the PNC politicians were only employing PNC supporters while the AFC were not getting anything for its supporters.
The inability of the politicians to rise above the insecurity of race is the stake at the heart of politics in T&T and Guyana. Despite the poor performance of the PNM government under Dr Keith Rowley many opposition supporters have resigned to the fact that PNM supporters and interest groups including media and big business houses are going to vote for the return of the PNM.
The refusal of the PNC Government in Guyana to vacate office after the Speaker of the National Assembly ruled that the motion was passed, only demonstrates the arrogance and gross disrespect for law and order. The PNC is making it abundantly clear that they have the divine right to rule Guyana. More than that the silence and connivance of CARICOM and other international bodies on this development contributes to political apathy. With the PNC supporters in charge of the Defense Forces and the Police, the PNC knows that it can flout the law and the police would not touch them.
VS Naipaul had always lamented the “return to the jungle” in his writing on former colonial states. What is happening today in Guyana is only a fulfillment of Naipaul’s vision. It appears that the PNC enjoys seeing the Guyanese people encircled and enveloped in a jungle setting a la A Bend in the River where flight is the only and best option. The PNC-Burnham era of politics has returned to Guyana.