By GHK Lall
The date really is not a date; not quite; not the one expected. In the history of Guyana, the date of March 2 is going to have to be stricken from the calendar: it just does not exist in 2020, other than in political constructions.
Regrettably, I venture to tell the president what no one else wants to tell him, and that which he may not wish to hear. Regrettably, I must part company with His Excellency on adding to the uncertainty through the morsel of the earliest date for elections could be March 2. Okay, so that rules out March 1 and February 29, as based on Gecom’s announced readiness. No problem. But the suspense and uncertainty are still not relieved. For if the earliest is March 2, then it could be any time after that date; that still leaves the dreaded Ides of March up in the air and menacing with ominous promise. If that is out, then I think that, just as safely, the birthday, also in March, of that deceased son of national renown and homage could also be penciled off. That does leave much with which to work. Or is March now off the table?
I humbly share that a final, definitive, 24-hour day somewhere in the first half of March is sound, aligns closely with Gecom’s readiness, and puts their turbulences and travails over an elections date to rest. The nation needs to stand at ease on this. Because, soon enough, it will be consumed (again) by who cheated whom, and the fraudulent nature of the whole post-elections’ day process, including statements, submissions, certifications, and counting. Remember those? How can any Guyanese not? I stand here in late September and guarantee that those, along with new variations, will surface come whenever that elusive, magical date is made public.
I had quietly disagreed, time and again, with the opposition leadership on its shifting insistences and ultimatums about this date and that one relative to elections. Today, I also disagree with the coalition leadership on the hedging, procrastinating, and moving goalposts on this issue, which is not a sport, but a matter of unequalled import and urgency and priority for the nation. When the president operates in this vein, he loses some luster. He looks bloodless. Moreover, he comes to resemble a little too closely for comfort his adversaries, who possess their own loaded piggybank of the unacceptable and the unsavory, meaning, that the national leader comes across as too clever by half, somewhat cute, and faded in so many things.
I say all of this because, any way I examine, the earliest date inclusive of whatever was contemplated and whenever that was publicly identified is too open-ended. So open-ended, as to be anytime, with due bows to the caveat of return to parliament, which I have always seen as vitally necessary. March 2 adds haziness to murkiness; it could be interpreted whimsical, if not scurrilous. It is or it isn’t; better to have said nothing. For from that rush the floodgates of allegations about bad faith, worse motives, and with the worst of results envisioned. I think that the radical and experimental surgery that is about an elections date has gone on too long. The onion has been peeled in painstaking, teary layer after layer, leading to self-inflicted blindness. Thus, the layers of our consciousness and conscience and soul are stretched and rolled back, too. There is not much left.
I suggest that it may have been much better to go public with something to the tune of an elections date will be on or before such and such a date, but no later than some very discrete and tangible. It boxes in the calendar and narrows the circle of conjecture. Perhaps, I am fooling myself, but I submit that this may have been the lesser of two evils. I see such as coming over as authoritative, even embracing, whether appreciated or not.
This show (circus and spectacle) has gone on for too long; opened old wounds and carved out many more new ones. The passions are simmering; the outlook acutely suspicious, and sentiments utterly distrustful. This is not limited to government’s intentions and actions alone. Yet, at this time, every hat rests on the head of government; similarly, every shoe that is around must be worn by it. And whether it does or not, or accepts that or that, is immaterial. What matters is that government is calling the shots, and on Wednesday, it was a dud. Unwholesome. Unhelpful. Unsettling.
As I sum up, and revisit the troubles relative to unilateralism, a chair, a list, a date, and the related brutalizing contentiousness, I cringe in considering where the peoples of this country will be after the mechanics and specifics of date, processes, and count(s) are over and done. As I have said all along, this nation is so battered and amputated that I have little hope. Hope that it would have the energy, the character, and will to pick up the pieces and progress out of the gutter that it has been proud to call home.
Not unreasonably, I ask any of the residual thoughtful and sensible out there: how can anyone, any group, any society move forward after the near-death experiences that this specific election has brought? In my book, it is only 25% underway; the worst is still to come. After all we have gone through, and given where we are and how we are, a Pyrrhic reality awaits. If this is the tortured nature of a date, then what will it be about count and result?
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.