Now that the noise has died down, perhaps it is time to discuss that most fundamental aspect of Guyana politics that the farcical exercise of appointing a Chairman of the Elections Commission has highlighted.
There were three identifiable stages of the process. First, Mr. Jagdeo was required to name six individuals. He did so, and the klaxon began. The Afro-PNC-ites, most of whom had never met the candidates and had no knowledge of their politics, integrity or competence, immediately condemned them as ‘PPP’, as ‘Not Trustworthy’. The Indo-PPP-ites, most of whom spoke from a similar position of ignorance, immediately praised the selection, touting the reputations and professionalism of the individuals selected. Mr. Granger forced Mr. Jagdeo to undergo this process three times. Each time, the Afro-PNC-ites found or invented reasons to disqualify the nominees, many of whom are reputable and honest patriots who would have done an excellent job. Each time, the Indo-PPP-ites sang the merits of the same nominees, some of whom are politically tainted. None of the noisemakers seemed bothered that their stated views were premised on speculation rather than fact, and intended to validate their own parties, rather than to seek the truth.
The second stage of the corrupted process involved the decision by Mr. Granger to reject all three lists of nominees, and to announce his decision to unilaterally appoint the Chairman. Immediately, the Afro-PNC-ites adoringly commented on this ‘master tactical manoeuvre’, and their leader’s ‘clever outplaying’ of Mr. Jagdeo. They were unfortunately vague on the reason for that bit of cleverness and why it was necessary to be ‘clever’, but they were nevertheless in full support. Immediately, the Indo-PPP-ites condemned the decision and protested its defiance of the spirit of the Constitution and the intention of collaboration behind the Carter formula, and accusing Mr. Granger of laying the groundwork for a rig.
Finally, Mr. Granger identified his choice of Chairman, the octogenarian James Patterson, and the familiar refrain ensued. The Afro-PNC-ites, most of whom had never heard of or met the gentleman, immediately attested to his experience, qualifications, and suitability for the job. The Indo-PPP-ites, who also had never heard of or met Patterson, condemned his appointment as part of a plan to rig elections, and pointed to his advanced age and uncertain curriculum vitae.
At each stage of the comical/tragic process, an overwhelming crescendo of absolute conviction and staunch opinion filled every social and media forum, all emanating from voters who had very little real information upon which to base their manufactured conclusions. But in truth, the process has only highlighted yet again the sad fact that the Afro-PNC-ite and the Indo-PPP-ite do not care about the truth; they will support their ethnic party right or wrong. And that is the problem, and has always been the problem.
As a consequence, the parties are not pressured by their followers to do the right thing for the country or even for those followers. Because of the unquestioning, uncritical race-based support, the parties are not accountable to the country, and especially are not accountable to their own blind followers. The PNC-ites and PPP-ites support and have supported their ethnic party regardless of corruption, incompetence and outright illegality. They supported the PNC through years of electoral fraud and destruction of the economy, and they supported the PPP through years of financial corruption and association with criminals. Until we as a people finally realise that it is the two parties which have wrecked our country, and decide to eschew both parties, Guyana will continue to suffer. The fault lies with them.
Timothy M. Jonas