The PNC-led Coalition's Style of Governance: Utilizing their 3-D Tools to Maximum Advantage!
Photo : Dr Tara Singh
A good friend says that the style of governance by the PNC-led coalition is remarkable for its authoritarian character, its practice of racism, and its lack of transparency and accountability. He also traces the authoritarian rule and other traits to Granger’s unconditional embrace of Burnhamism. Granger can get away with this form of governance firstly because he controls the coercive arms of the state (police, army, para-military, and prison). And he receives the full support from the AFC in this regard.
Secondly, the Granger administration skillfully utilizes the 3-D approach to their perceived advantage. The 3-D represents Deception, Diversion and Destruction. These are important tools in their governing apparatus. Currently, there are major national issues afflicting the country, such as the urgency to determine the constitutionality of the unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chair; the status of the secretive Exxon bonus deal, the humanitarian crisis precipitated by the closure of 4 sugar estates; the escalating crime problem; growing unemployment, the decline in sectoral output, among others.
The Granger administration continues to engage in diversion, deception and subtle destruction. It feels that deception had worked well for them at the general elections, and that also allowed them victory at the polls. “If that tool secured for them victory, well, why not employ it in governance?” In re-negotiating the Exxon contract, for example, for which they were granted a $(US) 18 million signing bonus in 2016, they concealed that fact from the public and vehemently denied ever receiving it, until they were forced to capitulate in response to soaring pressures from the public and civil society. Their pretexts for earlier non-disclosure of the signing bonus were clumsy. An examination of the provisions of the contract reveals some glaring deficiencies. For example, Guyana has to pay the bill(s) for legal expense should either Exxon or Guyana decide to go to the court to settle any dispute.
Why was the bonus payment not paid into the Consolidated Fund according to the law? Why didn’t the government accept the Opposition’s suggestion to pay sugar workers (earning $(G) 500,000+) their full severance from this bonus? On the signing bonus issue, a visiting oil expert says that Guyana should have received at least between $(US) 25 to $(US) 50 million as the signing bonus, but instead got only $(US) 18 million. It seems that the coalition’s re-negotiation of the contract did not bring much benefits to Guyana, except the signing bonus [$(US) 18 million] and $(US) 2 per barrel of oil instead of 1$(US) per barrel. The oil expert says that Guyana should have received $(US) 5-7 per barrel of oil. These are a few of the sore issues that the coalition operatives are trying to hide and to shift blame away from center stage politics. They hope that their calculated efforts to divert and deceive people, will work to their advantage!
Joblessness is a serious issue. A person who is unemployed for a long time becomes demoralized, feels worthless within his family and tends to develop a negative self-image. Solving the unemployment problem, especially among youth, could restore their hope and faith in the country, but the government does not have this as a top priority. A national economic development strategy is yet to be formulated in which unemployment reduction would be integral. The high level of youth unemployment (40%) in particular feeds into criminal activity and threatens national security. The public as well as the ABC countries (America, Canada and UK) don’t believe the government’s reports that the crime rate is going down. They have issued travel advisories to their citizens. Bandits are so brazen now that they attack their victims with impunity and at any time of the day. They even engage in oral sex with victim(s). They rob the blind, the church, the hospital, the bank, the street vendor, the beggar, the diplomat, the office, and even the dead. How many more of these types of crime occur but are not reported for fear of reprisal and/or embarrassment! Public safety is the foremost responsibility of any government. The government doesn’t think so. But the reality is that the majority of Guyanese live in fear of being victimized. Is there a national crime fighting strategy? Has the government been able to curb the drug trafficking?
A major humanitarian crisis is emerging in Guyana. Thousands of sugar workers have been laid off with no alternative employment offered to the majority of them. Over 80,000 people would be directly affected by the government's decision to close 4 sugar estates. The coalition’s major objective was to weaken the PPP support base. Other sugar estates were closed before but the transition was not ruthless. Despite the pleas from various sources for the government to conduct a social and economic impact study first before the sugar estate closures, the government rejected this. They are treating sugar workers with contempt, having denied them their pay increase, their API (Annual Production Incentive), and reluctant to pay workers (entitled to $(G) 500,000+) their full severance in accordance with the law. Not only that, the future for the displaced sugar workers is extremely bleak? Social problems will also multiply.
Here’s another attempt at diversion. WPA operative Tacuma Ogunseye lavished praises on Komal for disagreeing with Jagdeo on the modality of payment for the severance package. Tacuma never praised Komal as a unionist before. Rather than addressing the way forward for the sugar industry and how he and his government could solve the emerging humanitarian crisis in the sugar industry, they resort to side show, creating a storm in a teapot. Nagamootoo has jumped into the arena. He also praised Komal, while criticizing Jagdeo. When Ramjattan’s AFC launched a bitter attack on Komal and GAWU (Stabroek News of 1/23/2018), both Nagamootoo and Tacuma remained silent. They never chastised Ramjattan’s AFC for that lethal outburst against KOmal and GAWU. Isn’t this a case of duplicity?
GAWU rebuked the AFC for providing distorted information designed to deceive. “The AFC columnist(s) has sought, unashamedly, to castigate our Union for the sorrowful state the sugar industry finds itself today. This simply is hogwash emanating from the AFC. During the AFC’s short, and one can say destructive, excursion in which the sugar industry is under the direct responsibility of an AFC Minister, sugar production has fallen from 231,071 tonnes in 2015 to 137,297 tonnes in 2017…Today, the AFC has shown its hand and exposed its charlatan-like qualities.” The coalition is trying very hard to divert attention from the distress of sugar workers by displaying expressions of superficial concern for laid-off sugar workers. Their theatrics are amazing, though not surprising. I hope that Komal don't fall for this subterfuge, with all their (coalition’s) patronizing attitude!
Jagdeo has dismissed any notion of a power struggle between him and Komal. Nagamootoo and Tacuma should first explain why the coalition rejected not only the 2016 GAWU sugar proposal depicting the way forward for the sugar industry, but also, why they allowed the sugar situation to grow into a humanitarian crisis. They were the ones who said that the PPP was fooling the people that they (coalition) would close the sugar industry once they got into power. Instead, they (coalition) vowed not to close the sugar industry and proclaimed, “sugar is too big to fail” and further stated that they would give sugar workers a 20% raise. What a colossal lie!
The coalition government don't want people to focus on Guyana’s sectoral decline. They don't want people to express their fear about the crime problem. They don't want to talk about the growing joblessness that afflicts the country. They don't want to talk about constitutional reform. They don't want to talk about the numerous constitutional violations committed by the coalition, including the illegal appointment of the GECOM Chair. They don't want to talk about their deep involvement in corruption (40+ cases). Why does the government refuse to investigate these acts of corruption? For how long will they seek cover in deception, diversion and the destruction of opposition supporters’ dreams, and then cast the blame onto the PPP? True to form, they (coalition) have just established a COI into the Lindo Creek blood bath. Jagdeo and many others regard this COI as another diversion.
Once they perceive that deception and diversion work for them, they will continue to embrace these tools. They have already forgotten their solemn promise to fix the problems of the country, whether inherited from the PPP or otherwise.