PPP preparing for the long journey into the wilderness.
Do you know that Cheddi Jagan was once the president of both the Rice Producers’ Association (RPA) and the Rice Marketing Board and never owned even a square foot of rice land? Jagan also became president of GAWU and never worked a day in the sugar industry. The story of PPP front groups is as old as Guyana itself.
After it lost power in 1964, the PPP formed a number of front organisations. The purpose was to attract civil society whose members would prefer not to be overtly friendly with political parties. The PPP functioned through GAWU, the RPA and a number of other organisations but the masquerade never fooled anyone because the leadership of the PPP was reproduced in those organisations.
For example, Harry Lall, president of GAWU was always a PPP Member of Parliament and a top leader in the PPP hierarchy. Komal Chand, his successor, possesses the identical status as Lall did. It is interesting to note that throughout its history (and this may shock many readers), the RPA never had elections, whether competitive or selective. In the seventies, there were the East German Friendship Society and Soviet Friendship Society. Both owned and controlled by Freedom House.
In the US and Canada, the PPP functioned through a group called the Association of Concerned Guyanese. Gail Teixeira was once its president and at the time of the PPP victory in the 1992 general elections, its president was Sash Sawh who later became Minister of Agriculture. One of the shell entities that the PPP used in its attempt to get close to civil society and attract African Guyanese to its cause was the Guyana Peace Council. Cheddi Jagan was its first chairman.
This shell group never emphasised local politics. Its platform centered on the African liberation struggle, Non-Alignment, decolonisation, the Vietnam War and apartheid.
The essential goal of all these organisations was to act on behalf of the PPP but they all failed. And they failed for a commonsensical reason – you could not distinguish them from the PPP. If the leader of the opposition was the chairman of the Peace Council, then why would you think it would be an independent body? Which judge on Planet Earth would be accepted if he/she sits in the leadership of a political party?
Last week, a little event went unnoticed but it has large significance for Guyana. I would say it is indicative of the PPP’s resignation that it isn’t going to get back in power soon and it is attempting to maximise all its strengths to attract converts for that day in the future when it may be possible for it to win government again. But a party can only be attractive if it operates with sensible, intellectual leadership.
The PPP has resuscitated the Guyana Peace Council at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre. The masquerade from the fifties continues. All of the executives are PPP leaders with some being parliamentarians. Heading the outfit is Clement Rohee; his deputy is Juan Edghill. The other executives include Bibi Shadick, MP Norman Whitaker, Donald Ramotar, Carvil Duncan. The episode was a joke not because of who were its leaders but the statement it put out.
The theme of the peace council is “in pursuit of peace” and the statement includes words to the effect that people in Guyana should strive for peace and development. This is coming from a Chairman who as a Cabinet Minister for 23 years told the media; “I have so much to think about and you people are telling me about torture by the police force.”
The people in this outfit were in the government when an underaged boy was tortured and had his genital parts burnt. When he won compensation by the courts, the very government appealed the decision.
This organisation includes a person who was a minister at the time when a video clip circulated showing young men having sex with young ladies. The minister’s nephew was involved and the minister said that the girls liked it so why the fuss on social media.
This entity has in its leadership a parliamentarian who refused to leave the House when ordered. When police were summoned to remove him, his fellow parliament attempted to restrain the policemen and in the process, one policeman was beaten.
Some of the female parliamentarians involved in that attack on the police rank are in the revived peace council. These are the very parliamentarian who lied to the world by saying that in the confusion inside the sacred chambers of parliament, policemen tried to rape both male and female parliamentarians of the PPP. It was a morbid fiction reflective of morbid people.