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African Guyanese must demand servant-leaders; push for national reconciliation- WPA

Last Updated on Sunday, 1 August 2021, 7:55 by Denis Chabrol

Amid discord in the mainly African Guyanese supported People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) about whether its constituency is being adequately represented by elected leaders, the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) urged that segment of the population to demand proper representation.

“We urge the community to demand servant-leaders and more importantly to avoid being imprisoned by one party or the other,” said the WPA in its African Emancipation Day 2021 Message.

That party said there was a sense of impatience among the African Guyanese masses “at the real and perceived inaction of their elected leadership.” In apparent reference to the PNCR, the WPA called for frank discussions between party supporters and the leadership to ensure there is adequate representation of supporters.

“We fully understand the state of affairs and urge a more open dialogue between leadership and followership on the responsibilities of elected representatives. The era of covering up the shortcomings of leaders must come to an end,” he said.

PNCR Leader David Granger is being increasingly challenged for the leadership of the party ahead of the next Congress that a number of executive members have said would be held this year.  Mr. Granger has been criticised for being less than vibrant and sidelining a number of key party members, but he has lashed back saying that a new and younger crop of representatives are now in the National Assembly and they are being supported by experienced leaders to do field work.

Mr. Granger has also rubbished efforts to table a no-confidence motion against him at the PNCR Central Executive, and has relied on his party’s constitution that spells out how a leader can be elected or replaced.

The WPA also recommended that African Guyanese  begin to fashion a new politics that reaches beyond the narrow
confines of party politics. “WPA does not discourage participation in party politics, but it cannot be the
primary concern or the only arena of struggle.” Observing that the politics of Black Empowerment, in particular
economic empowerment, are often limited and compromised by party politics, the WPA said that is the reason for the  hyper-anxiety in the community whenever the party to which it pledges loyalty loses power.

According to that party, the new Black politics must emphasize a community and group bias that put the interests of the group above those of the parties. It must also give priority to the strengthening of the family as both a cultural and economic unit. “The family and the community must be the bedrock of the Black economy. Towards this
end, the resuscitation of the cooperatives both as institution and sprit must be put at the top of the
agenda.”

National reconciliation talks

The WPA also called on the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to open talks on a pathway to national reconciliation because of the threat of ethnic tension and instability after A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) lost power in March, 2020.

“It is for that reason the WPA urges the government to use its institutional power to begin a process of ethnic and national reconciliation. There is no better moment to begin this process than on the anniversary of the formal end of the most evil socio-economic and political system known to mankind. We ask the government to take the lead because it holds institutional power in its hands,” he said.

The WPA said this year’s observance of African Emancipation is being held under a cloud of a changed political environment with the PPP back in power a year ago. That party said the controversial nature of the last election has
left in its trail an unprecedented ethnic fallout that has worsened ethnic relations between Afro and Indo-Guyanese. “The situation has been exacerbated by the apparent ethnic insensitivity by the new government which interprets its mandate in broader and more absolute terms than is usual. It is against this background that the WPA warns the wider Guyanese community of the dangers being posed by the fast-deteriorating situation. In our multi-ethnic country, ethnic peace is pivotal to the maintenance of national stability,” the WPA said.

The PPP administration has often dismissed accusations of racial discrimination and has called on the APNU+AFC to provide solid evidence to prove claims of biased distribution of COVID-19 cash grants and flood relief food packages.

The WPA said genuine national reconciliation can no longer be delayed because the solution to every other national problem relies on it.

President Irfaan Ali, in his Emancipation Day 2021 message, gave no update on his now six-month old promise to establish a ‘One Guyana Commission’ to forge closer relationships and understanding among Guyanese.

In making out a case for executive power sharing, the WPA said history would continue to be unkind to the PPP party and government for their scant respect for the right of half the population to participate in the governance of their country through inclusive representation in the councils of power.

“Towards this end the WPA again calls for a renewed national commitment to tearing down the majoritarian winner-take-all system which has proven to be a  facilitator of conflict rather than an instigator of reconciliation.

The WPA said it was time for the PPP and PNCR to  use the State to narrow the wealth gap between the two major races

Before then PNCR Founder-Leader Forbes Burnham had died in August 1985, his party and the PPP had been holding reconciliation talks but that process had been scrapped under Burnham’s successor, Desmond Hoyte.