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OPINION: Political leaders press others to do what they fear doing themselves

by GHK Lall

The journey to nowhere continues. In the forefront stands these nowhere men and women. They could not make any decision, even if their very existence depended on it. No! They pass off, escalate, delegate, and engage in one subterfuge after another to duck and dodge their responsibilities. In this, the nation that is Guyana stands like those forlorn, helpless ‘child mothers’ waiting, hoping, and praying that irresponsible so-called fathers step up and deliver on their obligations.

I look at them and what do I observe? I observe clever, vacillating men unwilling to make any decisions, so they lateral to hoped-for friends and neighbors (hoped-for allies) in the domestic community, or farther afield in the region. That would be the Chief Justice (ag) and the CCJ respectively. The latest recruit in these crafty exercises is the worn-looking chair of Gecom. She holds a clear plastic bag of struggling cats; they claw and mewl without respite. The post-house-to-house registration announcement (and reactions) spoke abundantly and unsparingly in this regard.

Each local political mandarin looks for these reluctant parties invited (more like thrown) into the fray to decide for them. They wait, with full combat readiness, to resume the deceptions through interpreting what is handed down, as is seen fittest and most favorable. At the heart of these exercises is a now patented array of a seasoned confidence trickster’s scripts and postures. Thus, the games begin all over again, with no end in sight. Going forward, those games will be about merged lists, Claims and Objections protocols, and Preliminary and Official Lists of Electors – PLE and OLE. It will be one dogfight after another.

This is what I notice perpetuated and practiced with increasing ease. This is what passes for democracy and governance in this retarded land, an uncaring land it is.

Perhaps another local and familiar illustration would help to register and reinforce how foolish we appear as leaders, as citizens, and as a society before the world. The only ones not seeing this is us. Our predicaments are like that of a reciprocally raucous, mutually hostile, and universally incompatible couple. The problems abound; all serious and chronic, if not grave. Instead of sitting down at arm’s length and engage in genuine conversation as to how to mend, how, at least, to agree on what must be done and by whom, and how to finalize going from where things are to where what could be workable, there is evading and escaping, through the subtlest of trickeries.

The troubled couple pass on their indecisiveness and problems – thorny and tawdry, for sure – first to friends and well-wishers, then neighbor and village head; and last, older, supposedly more experienced and wiser, in-laws. Is not this what Guyanese, through their elected leaders, have been doing? Think CCJ. They refuse to come together to make a decision, any decision, to map a way out of the acrimonies and hard feelings. Leaders, despite all the exhortations of the jurists of the CCJ, refuse to budge; so they hand over to the chairwoman of Gecom and the acting Chief Justice, with the contentment of knowing that, if the holdings go against their expectations, then there is the whole world of critiquing and further paralyzing through more endless and useless analyzing. This is what passes for leadership in Guyana.

I think the happiest man in all of this is one LFS Burnham. He is alive and well, and prowls around in smug satisfaction, given the results of his handiwork. It is that constitution that first mesmerized his own people, and which then captivated and transformed his PPP opponents into the biggest, most loyal Burnhamites around. In fact, so big and so loyal, that they cannot get enough of his dreadful magnum opus. Surely, in a Machiavellian manner, he has proved to be the wisest one of us all.

I look at them and see a slew of men, who cannot think for themselves, and who will not rise to separate themselves from his wickedly magnificent concoction. They argued over a chair (now somehow over); and then a registration process (also restricted). In front of the current crop of local political wisenheimers disputes surface over lists, what is going to constitute claims and objections, and then something called the Official List of Electors.

In all of this, and based on the not unsurprising reactions, I behold a chairwoman struggling to please everyone (merge lists) and soon to end up pleasing none. Sometimes striving to split hairs leads to slicing off one’s own hand. Burnham must be doubled over in glee. As I like to say, he who laughs last, laugh all the time.

As he laughs, Guyanese pull out their hair, wring their hands, grind their teeth, shed their tears, and lose their minds. Up next, the war over merged lists and claims and objections. Good luck, Guyana!

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