The AFC at 12: The journey has ended
Yesterday marked one dozen years since the Alliance for Change came into being at the Ocean View Hotel, Liliendaal on October 29, 2005. I thought of doing this article yesterday, the actual birthday, but I considered the topic on the insensitivity of our leaders to poverty in Guyana more pressing and relevant for a Sunday column.
Has the AFC become a fading superstar? I think the final performance on stage will be 2020. It is definitely outside the scope of one newspaper column to analyse the twelve-year journey of the AFC. The AFC has not had an attractive birth or continuation of its life. It was essentially a middle class formation that followed Raphael Trotman out of the PNC, and Sheila Holder brought a few middle class admirers with her.
Khemraj Ramjattan was not very instrumental in winning over Indian constituencies at that time. The six seats it got in the 2006 elections came essentially from Linden and African districts in Guyana as a show of rejection of the PNC under Robert Corbin.
When Trotman reneged on the covenant of presidential rotation for the 2011 elections, Ramjattan secured an enormous amount of sympathy from AFC members, Indians disaffected with the PPP, wealthy Indian disapora personalities and ex-ROAR activists. In fact, the general manager for the AFC 2011 election campaign was a former leader of ROAR that the Indian diaspora paid a salary of US$4000 monthly and put him up at the Pegasus throughout the campaign.
After spending $80 million more than in the 2006 elections, the AFC only collected one more seat. Berbice played a factor in the tally of seats, since the PNC got back the five seats it lost under Corbin due to the birth of APNU, which in my opinion the WPA played a crucial role.
The 2015 election results for the AFC were disastrous. It showed that the top Indian leaders did not win over Indian constituencies. The expert in statistics, after going through GECOM release of votes by each station countrywide, may be willing to admit that the AFC did not bring in the ten percent that its partner, the APNU assumed it would.
As it stands today, the Coalition won Parliament by a single vote. It was a one vote difference in Region Eight that gave the Coalition a one-seat victory in Parliament.
From the time the election results were known, the relationship between the AFC and APNU became tense and it has been like that ever since. Top APNU leaders felt and still feel today that a party that couldn't get ten percent of the vote should not have received twelve seats and the ministries it got.
The other side of that argument is that APNU did not bring in the ballots by itself. In a complex way, it was not APNU or AFC that people voted but the symbolism and meaning of the Coalition. That's the way I see it.
We come now to the AFC post-2015. I would love to see the analyst describe for me how the AFC is going to survive electorally in 2020. I know one thing is a million times definite â€“ APNU will run as a coalition with the AFC but there will be no written agreement on anything. Even the most innocuous arrangement on a post 2020 government APNU will not entertain. What the AFC will get if the Coalition wins in 2020 will depend on who gets what votes in Indian areas all over Guyana.
The AFC will cling to the APNU in 2020. It has no other option. It will hope that the Prime Minister comes from the AFC but even that is not guaranteed. Sadly, I think the AFC's biology and physiology will die after 2020 and it will just be an appendage to the APNU.
What happened along the way? Briefly, the AFC turned out not to be the innovative, inspiring, transformative organisation we thought it would be once in office. It has the same backward culture as the PPP and PNC.
Secondly, it showed that it was obsessed with power as David Hinds accused it of. The AFC ministers are more interested in being Ministers than their APNU counterparts. The APNU leadership knows this and is not going to listen to any complaints about bad policies from the AFC.
Thirdly, its acquisition of power in 2015 led to a most depraved abandonment of its second and third tier leadership. After the election results, the AFC called one of its middle friends and offered her the Environment Ministry. This caused toxic resentment among many and it was the decisive factor in my change of attitude to the AFC. More on this, later!