By GHK Lall
The no-confidence vote unleashed racial, political, and social forces aggregated and pent-up beneath Guyana’s exterior. A Pandora’s Box of brimstone and lightning immediately pummeled an already rickety, sickly society. Whirlwinds of words, seismic postural upheavals, and the traditional sulfuric spewing in one continuous eruption of molten passion released reflexively and unceasingly. The past three weeks have been mentally agitating, verbally scorching, and viscerally loosening. It is the real Guyana.
The greatest concentration of public (most likely private, too) postures were: government abdication and submission; parliamentary abstention and cessation; and election initiation and conclusion. The basis for all of this is the much scorned, much pilloried local constitution. It is all that is there: this document upon which many feet have been wiped in the decades of its ramshackle existence. It has been a compendium dishonored by egregious breaches and deformed by one spurious interpretation after another. Unsurprisingly. its sorry sordid life has been conveniently extended by each grasping self-centered political group. This same flaky scroll forms the basis for all the outcry, some no doubt principled, and not altogether unreasonable. After all, it is all that Guyana has on which to lean in a time of ballooning crisis. There is nothing else. In and of itself, this represents the catastrophic immersed in the tragic; the unreliable in a time of the unbelievable. It has become a dirge of uninterrupted national mourning.
So let it be stipulated that all that has been furiously advocated occur: government stops, parliament ceases, and election begins and ends. Everybody should be content; democracy at work. Form and motion in action and something delivered. And then where is Guyana? This anemic brutalized society: where is it then? In a nutshell, it is at the merry-go-round, seesaw, and the 360 of either: is we turn still. Or is we turn again. It is neither intricate nor sophisticated, but this is the reductio ad absurdum of political and electoral visions, anticipations, results, and realities in this country. The substance of any change or difference at the heart is that the political deejays-loudmouthed, emptyheaded, shortsighted and tone-deaf-are rotated. The music is still the same: with the gyrating and celebrating by winners; and the embittering and undermining by losers. All that happens is that the carousel completes its familiar circle; and the record is flipped from side A to side B. It is the old cacophonous disharmonies, the same unswerving racial detestations and dissociation, and the regular social, environmental, and national sitting on hands, dragging of feet, and collapsing of mind and spirit. Time wasted; energy dissipated; confidence misplaced, misused, mangled. Grievously.
Historically, all election roads and conclusions have led to here. The old song (a real funeral symphony) long with composers, conductors, and songsters must all be buried and entombed (at sea), if this country is to get anywhere. A clean sweep, a cleaner break. To ensure no return, there should be cremation first. Why and how? Because race has disfigured, damaged, and devastated Guyana as a nation, as a sanctuary, as a viable cohesive entity. The how is radical, perhaps revolutionary, arguably inconceivable, if not dead on arrival. A while back I proposed 2-term limits for political parties. Was not well-received. Today, I go further and advocate that true constitutional reform (given racial impasse and racial doggedness) should incorporate provisions for the mandatory composition of any and all political parties contesting elections to mirror the demographics of this land; and as certified by the Statistical Bureau and Gecom, and confirmed by reputable civil society. If there can be leadership monopoly and immunity, why not something resembling this?
The thought is that this would drive a sledgehammer on the cracked anvil of race-based parties, race-based politicians, and race-based elections. When I first mentioned this to someone the response was, “you just took away the trump card.” That is the objective. The electorate would be compelled to analyze and to decide on an issue-driven basis: economy, jobs, healthcare, security, governance, oil, and so forth. Instead of depending on politicians to be responsible and committed to inclusion and servanthood, the Guyanese people can carve out its own unimpeachable contribution to the governance process with a constructive exercise of the franchise that really matters. Finally. And be able to hold rulers answerable and accountable.
Of course, the Guyanese electorate would be forced to break away from the easy, the reflexive, and the retarding. It would have to be serious and mature; committed enough and concerned enough to desire real change, real voice, and a real destiny. There is one problem: who in Guyana would subscribe to this?