The youth arm of the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) is now a “shell” of its former self and much need to be done to educate and organise members to be a force to be reckoned with again, a senior party official said Saturday.
Addressing about 40 youths at an East Convention of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) held at the Buxton Secondary School, PNCR Region Four Chairman Clement Corlette lamented the state of the youth wing today.
“This was no ordinary organisation so you’re part of an organisation that predates you, that was extremely powerful. It was not the shell that it is now,” he said. Corlette, who is also Chairman of the Region Four Administrative Council, said he wanted to see the YSM’s power and authority rekindled.
Considered one of the more vocal members of the PNCR’s Central Executive, Corlette observed that the GYSM was largely dormant except for a few meetings. “The YSM as it stands, while I’m glad that you are here, could be considered not very active… You should be seen, heard, known and most of all felt,” he said.
The PNCR is the major partner in the 26-seat opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The convention was also addressed by Jevaughn Stephens and MPs James Bond and Vanessa Kissoon.
The PNCR official, for example, said there was nothing stopping a busload of youths going into communities, mainly PNCR bases, and engaging in clean-up and other activities. “With all that I have been saying, added up, will create the impetus for people to believe in the PNCR as the wider body because of the type of intervention the young people in the party would be projecting,” he said.
He suggested that many members do not recall the origin of the GYSM including its previous names- PNC-YO (Youth Organisation) and YSM (Young Socialist Movement) and uniform in its “vanguard” days.
Corlette hoped that the GYSM could tap into books and manuscripts at the party’s Congress Place Headquarters as part of an education drive about the organisation’s “glorious history” and a “very powerful and interesting past” during the Forbes Burnham era from 1964 to 1985.
Among the recent failings of the GYSM, Corlette pointed to, was the failure of the GYSM to engage in counter picketing exercises when the governing Peoples Progressive Party’s (PPP) youth arm, Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) had picketed the opposition. “We should have had a hornet’s nest of YSM crowding out Robb Street, flush them out,” he said.
He recalled that the PNC’s youth movement had produced cadets to fill important positions in government ministries.
Noting that youths would like to ensure that they are educated, can easily access job and organisational opportunities and comfort at their homes, Corlette made several recommendations for strengthening the GYSM. They include focussing heavily on political education and motivation. “I am not saying that the GYSM is not discussing political matters but the YSM I know, I am saying now they are not into what they used to be,” he said.
Another recommendation was for the GYSM to project and transmit the national objectives and development agenda of the PNCR including regaining office for the first time since its defeat in 1992. “The GYSM has to be in the vanguard of the defence of the PNCR,” he added. Responses could include letters to the editor, e-mail, social media and picketing exercises.
Corlette wants GYSM members to be integrated in local government campaign teams, with those polls or general and regional elections likely to be held in the coming months.
Other suggestions include the need for the GYSM to create a concept paper for training in the new local government system to position the youths in managerial and entrepreneurial activities. Shadow Councils, he said, could be established to help train and equip GYSM members.
The PYO had been up to recently experiencing similar organisational problems. That youth organisation’s Chairman, Omar Sharif in August told the PPP’s Congress that his youth movement has over the past year rejuvenated itself through volunteerism and activism. Among its activities has been assisting in continuous registration process and door-to-door mobilization.