Politics is not only contesting an election and getting elected to office. It is also about effective governance which hinges on the police, defense force, bureaucracy, judiciary, independent Commissions, etcetera. Without effective control over these institutions, a government is always at risk of being challenged by a mob or on constitutional technicality. What comes to mind is the 18-18 elections’ result in T&T which saw the removal of a sitting government on the ground of “moral and spiritual values.” That was a constitutional coup without a whimper!
Too many politicians turn a blind eye to the ethnic and social imbalances in the State, hoping to navigate themselves around without antagonizing the bullies. It also means embarking on the slippery road of appeasement, thus ignoring the genuine grievances of social groups for fear of reactions from others. A case in point was Nizam Mohammed highlighting the ethnic imbalance in the upper ranks of the Police Service. Instead of addressing the concerns raised, Mohammed was unceremoniously removed as Chairman of the Police Service Commission.
The long delay by GECOM to release the election results of the Guyana election held on March 02 is mainly because the military is in the hands of supporters of APNU. With its supporters strategically placed at several levels of the State apparatus, APNU is blocking the installation of a government that has won at the polls.
Politicians in Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago must encourage their children to enroll in the army and police. Enrolling in a martial arts class is more appropriate than going to a Marchell Montano or Brian Lara fete, or playing tabla or working as a DJ! Our willingness to learn appears to be diminishing. We are content to say “I don’t know” with a relish because our society has place for the ignoramus.
The ruling class understands the source of political power and how to hold on to it. They know not only the value of an MBA and MD but also the effectiveness of a black belt and regular visits to a shooting range and not the bar. In the UK the members of the House of Winsor must serve in the military. In the US, the electorate expects that their presidential candidates would be people who have served in the military. Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (1890-1969), the 34th President of the USA (1953-61) was a five-star general that serves as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.
When some politicians can abuse and threaten their opponents it is only because they know that they enjoy the security of the State. Such arrogance must be confronted and not shy away from. Could you imagine a member of the House of Parliament telling Bhadase Sagan Maraj to meet him on the pavement?
Governance is only effective and secured when the State security apparatus and personnel are watching your backs. August 10, 2020 could be a historic day in T&T when a defeated government may refuse to leave office. The PNM has no choice but to give up power in 1986 because the NAR victory (33-3) was overwhelming. Had it been a 20-16 the PNM might have thought twice before surrendering office.
In 1958 Dr. Eric Williams insulted the Indians after the PNM’s defeat in the Federal Elections. And no stone was left unturned to deny power to the DLP in the 1961 elections. Among the weapons unleashed from the PNM’s arsenal against the people were the voting machine, gerrymandering of boundaries, disruption of political rallies by a Port of Spain gang called the Marabuntas headed by the erstwhile Ferdie Ferreira.
Voting for the Opposition is not enough. More importantly is ensuring that each vote counts. Effective supervision of the electoral process is critical and must not be left solely to the EBC which some claim is compromised. The Opposition must ensure that foreign observers from the OAS, Carter Center and CARICOM are allowed to overseer the electoral process.
Hooliganism is becoming the norm in this society. It is the norm for students with no interest in learning to disrupt classes and the school’s administration having limited power to effectively handle the threats. This is the challenge facing this country-how to control a bully that has ran amok or a police that has gone rogue?
As an immediate check on Dr. Rowley pulling off a Granger on the nation, urgent steps should be taken by the Opposition to ensure that foreign observer teams are allowed into the country to effective calm the fears of the Opposition. Such a gesture would only add credibility to the country and earn us the admiration of the international world at this critical juncture when the GECOM and APNU have failed not only the people of Guyana and the entire region but the entire free world.