By GHK Lall
For me, it is more than the silly season. I look in passing, in passing only, at the national elections landscape and it is at once comic, pathetic, and tragic. And when I lump all of those together, there are those elements from limited politicians, who think of themselves as the smartest people around, but who succeed in delivering the piteously predictable only, which has ring and appeal, even some belated zest but nothing else: no substance, no truth, no authentic intents.
That’s part of the problem, the biggest problem about Guyana. It has been blessed with leaders—men and women—who discover all the virtues that they ignored or trampled upon before just around elections times. They—all of them—take all kinds of money in all manner of quantities from all kinds of people, and then they have the mud face and brass stones to speak of campaign reform. It does not come as a surprise to me, because they—all of them—use that constitution, which served (and still serves) their ambitious personal objectives, but now they turn up around this time to spout about constitutional reform. And this reform and, while at it, those other ones, too. Suddenly, Guyanese politicians are discerning and humbling before the people with their spurious offerings. This whole country is welcome to believe them; I don’t trust them. Come to think of it, I don’t like them either.
For here it is, less than ninety days before the local Ides of March (not the 15th) and there comes the hearing of voices (from somewhere), the stirring to promising (to get another one over the electorate), and the committing to delivering (those things that always were needed, but always never happened). This Guyanese political reform business puts the Protestant Reformation of yore and religious lore to shame. Look at them and listen to them: these Guyanese parliamentarians and powderpuff people are the exemplification of contrition and transformation today, after living like prodigals at the taxpayers’ expense for many long lifetimes. God can give them second chances; I am still checking with him, bias and all.
I say all of this because nowadays the air is filled with pious promises to do something towards the openness of transparency (long denied and largely abused), to be about accountability (when has that ever been seen?), since both are the best of cloaks in which to wrap oneself. I sense the many Machiavellian hands at work and diligently: tell them what they want to hear, what sells, after all, talk has no price tag, and nobody was ever hanged or guillotined for playing games with the English language, truth, or the hopes of people.
So, today, I hear of all these lovely, warming governance ingredients about reform, and I shudder and recoil, since I am unlike most Guyanese. I kick that garbage can and the people who bring them to where they belong: in the gutter. I sense a convenient fix. Having said so, let me see what else sells and could be in the pipeline to spring upon gullible Guyanese. There is judicial reform, police reform, prison reform, and tax reform, among many specious reforms to place before Guyana.
I submit that all of that is wonderful, except that one thing is missing, the most vital of essences palpably absent in the schemes of considerations and public productions. Let that be faced, too. These political promises are just that: calculated public productions. Because there is still the one reform that matters the most, but which is nowhere around. That would be the people reformed. The political leaders reborn. Their cronies and cabals renewed, not in the sum of their pretensions and lecherous financial ambitions. No! but new in the different way that they—all of them—commit heart and hand to do right by this country and for the benefit of its peoples, all of them and to the maximum extent possible. Just this once!
I have no desire to see men get religion in fervent born-again ecstasies. I seen enough of them and heard enough of them to last for many eternities to come. I wish to see, and look for, men and women of character and caliber, the integrity to power forward through the required prowess to make what they promise possible. I am still to detect it in any wholesale quantity. There is the occasional retail outlet, though.
They tell Guyana that they are serious (this time); go ahead and make their day: tell them what is yearned for but means absolutely nothing when the push for proof brings no pudding. Again! Look at them: they start out with a slate that is already scarred and tainted on the one side; and, on the other, clean at the very top but largely corrupted all through after up there. Thus, I ask: what can such men and teams produce from the crucible of this society and deliver to the waiting catastrophe that is this country? What, if not more perversities and debaucheries?
I do understand that it is the season of Christmas, which brings a certain special kind of joy that flows from hope linked to belief. I regret immensely that my own hope trusts not in the promises of mock princes, sawdust Caesars, and putty political presences.
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.