The Second coming – of the dictatorship

ROAR of Ravi Dev

The Second coming – of the dictatorship
Photo : Ravi Dev

William Butler Yeats wrote his prophetic poem, “The Second Coming” in 1919, right after the end of WWI when the rise of Hitler and the rise of fascism was not even on the horizon. But he saw in the detritus of ‘the war to end all wars’ what lay ahead: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre /The falcon cannot hear the falconer. /Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world;/ The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; /The best lack all conviction, while the worst   / Are full of passionate intensity.”

Then, in his concluding lines he asked, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,/ Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” And this is the question that all Guyanese must ask today as we witness the PNC under David Granger blithely violating the clear orders of the highest appellate court for Guyana, the CCJ, that elections must be held three months after the successful passage of a no-confidence motion. The several levels of the Judiciary gave the PNC the benefit of the doubt that they were not just “trying a thing” with their mathematical concoction about the “majority” of 65. But on June 18, the last vestiges of doubt were removed when the CCJ announced the “pause” on the operationalisation of the NCM had ended. Meaning that elections must be held by September 18, and Granger should have so proclaimed to comply with the constitution.

For Granger to now continue with his most transparent ploy of falling back on GECOM to determine the date of the elections, by claiming that H2H registration is necessary for “credible” elections, is to add salt to the wounds he has inflicted on our constitution. The CCJ expressed their incredulity to GECOM about this manoeuvre by asking what should they do with the Constitution of Guyana when the latter’s lawyer said that H2H would deliver a voters’ list on Christmas Day 2019. We do not need to rehearse the second prong of Granger’s charade to delay elections in contravention of the constitution by insisting that the CCJ’s advice on a “consensual” process to replace his unilaterally appointed Justice Patterson, means that his role is to proposes names to the Opposition Leader. Evidently, his constitutionally defined role to make the ultimate choice is not “sufficient”, and the Opposition Leader’s constitutionally defined role to submit the list is purely mechanical.

In our divided land of multiple cultures and religions, the “falconer” is our Constitution: it is the social contract we have worked out to control those who we choose to govern us – the government, which is the “falcon”. When the falcon will not listen to the falconer , the centre cannot hold and anarchy will be loosened onto the land.  Intimations of this eventuality abound, but we also have the experience of the post-1968 PNC. Not coincidentally, that “blood-dimmed tide” was also loosed with the PNC asserting control of the Elections Commission and compiling a list of electors with the first “H2H” registration.

The rigged elections of 1968, when horses and babies voted, was followed by the elections of 1973, where ballot boxes were collected at the point of GDF rifles; the elections of 1980 that the British Parliamentary Group described as “more crooked than barbed wire” and finally the elections of 1985 when Hoyte delivered unto himself an even larger majority than even Burnham had ever dared. But the rigged elections are just book-ends of a reign of terror involving the physical violence of organised gangs like the House of Israel and “Kick down the Door bandits” and the psychic violence of the pervasive lawlessness.

The latter arose from the cumulative effect of Burnham’s control, his arbitrariness, and his destruction of every independent institution in the country. It engendered amongst the people, first the Indians and towards the end the Africans, a feeling of helplessness – anomie - and a belief that nothing or no one could change the situation. The immiseration of the population further contributed to the atomisation. But in the end, the best did not lack conviction: the PPP under Cheddi Jagan kept the faith and Walter Rodney burst like a flare over Guyana

We cannot allow the “worst” to now prevail with their ‘passionate intensity”.