The Next War

ROAR of Ravi Dev

The Next War
Photo : Ravi Dev

Reflecting on the sudden agreement on the next GECOM Chair reached by Caretaker President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharat Jagdeo, after the long war of attrition waged by the PNC leader, I was reminded of the salutary advice of George Orwell: “…the object of waging a war is always to be in a better position in which to wage another war.” Orwell made the observation in his classic dystopia novel “1984”, which has since been proven to be quite prophetic about the actions and motives of despots who are driven towards totalitarian “solutions” to societal challenges.

Granger, of course, has famously confessed that he is driven to fulfill the “legacy” of his mentor and founder of the PNC, Forbes Burnham. Nothing he has done since 2015 has disabused us about his seriousness of purpose towards that end. We must remember he was in charge of inculcating Burnham’s “revolutionary” ideology in the Disciplined Forces, and as such was totally transformed by it. He is a “true believer”. It was for this reason when Hoyte cleansed the PNC of its Burnhamite wing, Granger was passed over as head of the Army for an innocuous advisory post. So in seeking an answer to Orwell’s prediction of Granger positioning his party for waging “another war” after the GECOM Chair skirmish, one has to look at Burnham’s articulation of the PNC’s end game to predict what lies ahead. This was announced quite pithily in the 1974 “Declaration of Sophia”: to have his PNC must be the “paramount” party not only in the political hustings of electoral politics, but also over the state itself. 

As such it should be quite clear that while the next skirmish will be over the date of the next elections, the attenuation of this latter process against all logic since the NCM was successfully passed last Dec 2018 should also alert us to the fact that there has to be more at stake than just not giving the PPP the satisfaction of truncating their term of office, much as they had done to the latter in 1997. The PNC must have something up their sleeves to remain in office beyond 2020, for which they need the time to put the pieces together. And it has to be rigging the next elections as the prelude to their creation of Burnham’s utopia.

When it comes to rigging elections, the PNC takes second place to none. But as to how exactly they will achieve this, one thing we can be sure about: it will be different from what they did in 1968, 1973, 1978 (referendum), 1980 and 1985. After all, in each of those elections, they rigged by a different method: give the PNC “A” for creativity when it comes to maintaining the fig leaf of plausible “democratic” elections but gaming the system to ensure their hold on power. 

Their fig leaf was signaled by PNC Executive George Norton when he recently “assured” the nation that the PNC does not want to govern alone - but will do so in tandem with the coalition they forged in 2015. But what exactly is the status of that coalition as far a broadening the electoral base of the PNC? Among the micro parties it coalesced with to form APNU, only the WPA had credibility - not in securing votes but in blunting concerns among those in its constituency that had to hold their noses to vote for the Palm Tree. The AFC did bring over a key chunk of votes from the PPP’s traditional Indian constituency in 2015 but since then, more by the actions of the PNC than anything else, those votes have returned home. 

Since the fig leaf has become quite threadbare, unless Granger is prepared to use the army to do a repeat of 1973 and seize ballot boxes - which he described as a praise worthy operation - the mechanism for the upcoming rigging has to lie in the apparatus established by Winston Felix in his “Ministry of Citizenship” which was hived off Ramjattan’s Public Security Ministry immediately following the 2015 elections. 

Granger’s insistence on H2H registration has less to do with removing dead bodies and emigrant Guyanese and all to do with inserting names that will end up alongside the Palm Tree (or its substitute) in the next elections.

Forewarned is forearmed?