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OPINION: The jurists spoke (ordered): move and do something different

By GHK Lall

Amidst the searing confrontations over the selection of chair for Gecom, nobody has had the frankness, even honesty, to pinpoint and call out loudly and clearly what this death struggle condenses to at the core and deep soul of the matter. None (self included) has been unsparing enough and blunt enough to say publicly what this chair obstinacy is really about, and where it climaxes in unambiguous finality. Time to change that right now. I don’t need any court to lead me by the hand, or think for me.

Talk about chair and list and date are all that: meaningless talk. All the talk, postures, logic, assertions and defenses—passionate, sometimes profound, sometimes pathetic—as presented through the veils of constitution and courts are no more than that: just veils. Veils that furnish convenient cover for the ambitions and visions, and the pragmatisms and realities, which surround and saturate completely what is the poisonous racial strain through the curtain (another veil) of the political system. Twist or turn, this is the way the cookie crumbles in the tangled battlefield for chairperson of Gecom. To aid in this contention, I offer the simplest of illustrations that should be enlightening. It should remind us about the real Guyana. It should tell us of our true selves, when the layers are peeled away to the naked, hurting, revealing bone. I need not any judge to enlighten me.

There is an election; any election. The eligible votes are cast. They have all been counted. All counted save for a single vote. I now introduce that, at this nerve-wracking, heart stopping juncture, the numbers are deadlocked. The two main political contestants have left all of the peripheral competition way behind; neither numbers nor relevance. But to repeat: the votes cast confirm an accepted and irreversible numerical equality. It is the jarring, incontestable precision of a tie. Now remember, there is a solitary ballot left to be counted. This is where clarity as to the life-and-death combat over the appointment of a chair is placed before the glare of the spotlight; and what that one deciding vote means for and to each political party.

Will the Gecom chair finalized and sworn and at the helm rise to deliver on group expectations, leadership expectations? Will he or she come through in this incendiary, explosive crucible by reading, interpreting, and deciding on that one vote in a certain way? With the difference being the exhilaration of triumph or the pathos of defeat, in the thread of that fateful ballot, where and how will that person go? Will there be rocklike readiness to step forward and identify inseparably with the ambitions and visions of particular political leadership and political grouping? Can this man or woman be trusted (for emphasis: trusted) to be compatible with the unswerving electoral objectives of me and my group and deliver? Somehow deliver, regardless of how and what that vote reads?

I appreciate fully and admit willingly that this is great oversimplification in the configuration and contours of this picture. But whether a hundred or a score or one, single, solitary (redundancy deliberately inserted for emphasis) that is the pull-the-plug moment, the nuclear code activated and counting down unstoppably, with everything on the line. Will the chairperson that I accepted, that I selected stand up and deliver? Deliver for me? Deliver regardless of polls and statements and precincts and certifications and math? Remember: deliver.

I submit that is the tragedy that is inextricably woven into the harrowing anguish that is embodied in the selection of a Gecom chair. Constitution and courts have their place and serve their purposes. This is the reality: raw, ugly, disturbing. To put names and faces (and contexts) to this responsibility, it is the political parties that are most comfortable with only one of their own, their own kind at the helm of Gecom. I wonder whether even a Dr. Luncheon or Mrs. Ally would be acceptable by their respective groups to pursue unerringly the primacy of the political tribe foremost. No court is required to help with any of these dangerous truths.

Trusted is what the chair has to be (and for possibly the worst reasons). An electoral mystic, who can be depended upon to give life and limb (and credibility and reputation) in spite of the overwhelming nature of the circumstances to make good somehow and deliver in the most demanding of situations. When all the wise analyses and occasional glittering rhetorical tour de force have echoed and reechoed across this desolate land, this is the grim reality embodied in the considerations and strategies over selecting a chair for Gecom. It is known; it had to be said in its purest form. Oh, and it did have to come down from other people that matters distill to two in the same room around the same table, didn’t it? Local political content, isn’t it? Guyanese leadership compromise, consensus, and decision making, is it not? So what will it be now?

Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.