by David Hinds
The PPP has, since the results of the last elections, discovered the virtues of proportionality. It’s their new mantra. They placed it at the top of the tripartite agenda. They have now asked the court to pronounce on allocation of seats on the parliamentary committees. So far so good. The problem is that the PPP is being deceptive and selective on the issue.
Here is the deception. President Ramotar is reported in the Stabroek News (March 21, 2012) as saying, in reference to the equal number of seats allocated to the PPP and the APNU, that 49% cannot be equal to 40%. He is correct. But to make their argument the PPP has, not so cleverly, shifted the problem between them and the APNU. The issue, however, is not one between the PPP and the APNU; it’s between the PPP and the Joint Opposition. In this regard, the PPP’s 49% cannot be equal to the Joint Opposition’s 51%. Yet the PPP wants the number of seats as the Joint Opposition. But the PPP cannot have the same number of seats as the Joint Opposition—the latter got more votes and seats than the former. Any Standard One pupil should be able to know that.
Now to the PPP’s selectiveness. The PPP won 49% of the votes but controls 100% of the cabinet. Why doesn’t the PPP include that scenario in their discourse on proportionality? If there is an abuse of the principle of proportionality, that’s it. If the present cabinet were appointed using the principle of proportionality the PPP and the Joint Opposition would be entitled to 9 and 11 cabinet seats respectively.
The PPP’s apologists would, no doubt, say the rules permit the PPP to have 100% of the cabinet. The rules also permit the Joint Opposition to have a majority of the parliamentary committees and all the leading offices. However, the PPP wants to change the rules for the parliament but not for the cabinet. That is a clear indication of the PPP’s dictatorial mindset; they are bent on domination at all cost.
In the circumstances the Opposition should move to the court with a counter motion challenging the composition of the cabinet as a violation of Article 13 of the constitution. Such a motion would have more merit that the one brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the PPP.
Minister Rohee reminded Karen DeSouza of a play in which she played the role of a judge. The King on Trial, written by Eusi Kwayana, was staged by WPA in 1984 at several open-air Walter Rodney festivals across the country. He suggested that Karen’s politics have changed much since those days. Karen correctly assured him that he was wrong—she still believes in bringing kings to trial. But she prefers to hear cases of living kings; not ones who have long died. In this regard she proposes a re-staging of The King on Trial.
Never one to give up, even when cornered, Minister Rohee tells Karen that the king, though dead, still lives. (Stabroek News, March 21, 2012). But this is precisely Karen’s point. The charges against the king in the 1980s are the very changes against the kings today. In fact the court will have to hear at least three times as many charges against the present kings. Minister Rohee just doesn’t get it or pretends not to get it. He is correct—the king lives. But he lives in the kingdom built and tenanted by the PPP.
David Hinds is a Political Activist and Commentator. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. His writings can be found on his website guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com