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OPINION: PNC General Council meeting calls: all about the leadership

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 July 2023, 8:30 by Denis Chabrol

By GHK Lall

I sense trouble in paradise.  Considering the ripples of unease in the PNC, it would be more on the money to say that there is possibly looming trouble in purgatory.  Now the call circulating (again) is for a PNC gathering.  To this call, there has been subdued response.  Polite phrases, such as ‘in the proper time,’ and ‘in due course, and ‘it is going to be, but no specifics yet….’ have made the rounds.  Those canned phrases, catchy but chilly in their meaning, may be interpreted in many ways.  I share a few that come to mind.

A Congress, a Council, a conversation is called for, insisted by some that it has been too long.  The troops in PNC quarters are restive.  They see the world racing past them, and they believe that they should fit in, have every right to be part of national energies and endowments, but they are not.  They see breaking of the hitherto armor thick ranks of the party, and more comrades of proven mettle pole-vaulting over the fence.  Most of all, they see a leader of whom so much was and still is expected, and rethinking where they stand with him today.  How many remain vested, that is the question.

Since his resisted and delayed ascension to the helm of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey Norton, has had his feet tangled by his own, followed by growing uncertainties about his prior potency now all but disappeared, which lead to misgivings about his present muscularity, and disagreements about his strength to carry the group across the finish line.  Not just across it, but in front of all other contenders.  In short, the concern is whether he is the man to take to the promised land.  He has fewer friends, with the AFC now out at sea, and even some from his own PNC rocking the boat (his) and muddying the waters.

For his part, Mr. Norton held his own in limited engagements in the now over Local Government Elections.  He has managed a strange ballet dance with Exxon and the US, and tiptoed around the issue of the nation’s oil.  His challenge is a tricky one.  It is how to position himself and group as a viable alternative to the patriotically treacherous PPP Government and its up the creek leadership.  It is one type of creek only, with appropriate materials floating, which matches the men.  In addition, his own people want action, but Mr. Norton has been forced to walk on eggshells whenever the issue of oil surfaces.  Eggshells are helpful in keeping rambunctious people on their p’s and q’s.  When the eggshells, however, are loaded with dynamite, now that is another story, and nobody wants to be in the vicinity.  The problem for Mr. Norton is that his people seek movement, vigorous movement, not cautious statements.

Of course, it does not help his cause that those who were there before him somehow seem to reserve their passions, and concentrate their energies, to tripping him up and tumbling him on his head.  When he should be focused full-bore on the PPP and foreign corporate friendlies in front of him, he has to think of the enemies inside his gates and behind him.  Now, there is this first whisper of current vintage about the PNC Council needing to meet.  Why?  Why now?  Why meet at all?

Aside from timing and necessity, there is this new urgency.  I think it is more about impatience and disillusionment with the Comrade Leader.  Indeed, he has his people; but his opponents are seasoned in the ringcraft of politics, and they pack a wallop of a punch.  They are championship caliber, and they never really did hang up their gloves.  American General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur said it most lustrously: “old soldiers never die, they simply fade away.”  In Guyana, they don’t go out to pasture, they retreat and regroup, and wait to spring their surprises.  It could be through a stealth candidate for the coveted leadership position, a favorite senior godson, and maybe even a goddaughter of insights and one possibly ready to put a good fight.  My evaluation of the field is that a young daughter of the PNC leads the pack of contenders.

Hence, this call for the PNC powers to meet has a discomforting ring to it.  There is some sting in it for Mr. Norton, which my assessment of the territory.  Hostile territory, it is and that is more than a public secret: it is public frailness at the worst time possible.  My concern is not for the fate of Mr. Norton, nor the PNC, I must be frank enough to say.  Both have what is required to take care of themselves.  My anxieties are circled around the fate of the Guyanese people in this the hour of their greatest need.

A vibrant political opposition is needed, no matter how clichéd that sounds.  When there isn’t one of stature and depth, then there is more than national weakness, there is severe national sickness.  And when even a passing study is done of the Exxon-throttled, bottled, and scuttled PPP, then the assertion, the argument, becomes more compelling about how much a political opposition of substance, and with the stoutest sinews is drastically needed in this country.  Such a body is usually driven by the head.  Thus, my conclusion: the call for PNC assembling is all with leadership in mind, about leadership designs, and how the leadership should align.

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July 2023