by Dr. David Hinds
It’s been quite a first week for Guyana’s new Coalition government. They are still basking in the sunlight of an unexpected victory. Their supporters, including this writer, are still celebrating. In such a situation, any criticism of the government is not likely to go down well with the supporters. The new rulers initial missteps—and there have been some of them– would be excused. It is always tempting after the ousting of a discredited government to go easy on the successor. Such is the nature of politics in a complex country like Guyana. But we have to call a spade a spade, even if it offends friends and supporters.
By the end of the week we learned that there are 26 Ministers in the Cabinet—quite large by Caribbean standards. It was always going to be a tough job to put together a cabinet that represents six parties, while at the same time satisfying ethnic, gender and generational quotas. But my own initial response is that the Cabinet could have been more balanced. With some more consultations and strategic thinking they could have put together a Cabinet that better combined party representation, gender, ethnicity and the expertise available to the Coalition.
Given the pressures that I am sure he was faced with, I sympathize with Mr. Granger. But in the end he has to bear responsibility for the finished product, if he, as reported by some, did not properly consult his partners in the APNU and the AFC. So it’s his Cabinet. In this regard WPA’s Tacuma Ogunseye’s revelations that the APNU leadership is yet to meet following the elections should not be brushed aside. You can’t be too busy with government business to meet with the parties that are forming the government. That should not be comforting news for the country.
As it stands the Cabinet resembles a thrown together group of individuals rather than a team that reflects a sense of collective purpose. It seems more like a “job for the boys and girls” situation. Twenty six ministers are about six too many. One can hardly make sense of some of the portfolios and their functions. Some ministries seem more like departments of a ministry. I hear Mr. President, but Cabinet is not a place for apprenticeship. This is in no way a criticism of the men and women in the Cabinet–all of whom are accomplished individuals.
Let me end with this. Our support for a government should not blind us to the shortcomings of that government. It’s a tragic flaw in our political culture that has in the past hurt our nation. What we often call government over-reach is the end product when it’s too late to reverse it. The way to prevent government over-reach is to identify it early and nip it in the bud.
Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University. More of his writings and commentaries can be found on his Youtube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com