OPINION: I agree with Mr. Roysdale Forde: race-based politics must be purged, and not only by the PNC

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 October 2021, 6:05 by Denis Chabrol

By GHK Lall

As part of my continuing political watch in this country, I noted with interest an utterance by a rising light in Guyanese political circles.  Prominent attorney, Roysdale Forde, expounded that the PNC must cease to be a race-based party (Demerara Waves, October 22).  This is where I stand.

Race-based politics dominate both of our major political parties, the PPP and PNC.  Numbers about faces and who is in what places do not mean much to me, do not fool me.  Statistically and cosmetically, I observe the PPP doing much better than the PNC with numbers re race-based presences, but look beyond those and it is as racist a party as there could be.  Other than the known diehard loyalists of decades standing, of pedigreed ties, the news ones are welcomed for the opportunists they are, and the lovely window-dressing they are, the dirty work they can do, especially where their own are concerned.

With that said, my focus returns to the thrust of this effort.  The PNC is still very much viewed as a race-based party, and it must work tirelessly to reverse that, banish for good that albatross.  It has more than its share of handicaps.  Electoral history.  The composition of its teams in the party itself, and the public service at large.  Regarding the latter, the PNC labors with a major handicap: it does not possess the breadth of private sector presences that can absorb its hopeful faithful, which means that the bulk of the rewards that it shares in the event of electoral success must be in the parliament and public service edifices.

It looks bad, and it is bad, because the economic base is just not there.  It is another reason why the party is so dependent on PPP financiers for some of its funding, and why it is hogtied in rising against and confronting those who inflict numerous damages and exposures to this society.  The PNC, therefore, operates with the knowledge that it has to play footsie with local banditries to stick around, possibly get ahead.  When it didn’t play ball (or as much as was expected of party and leaders) in its 5-year reign, then it stood no chance, with race-oriented Guyanese gravitating to what they are most comfortable with, which is their own.  Meaning, political leadership and political support.

Speaking for myself, I firmly believed in 2015 that, given the machinations of PPP leadership and inner circle power and following, the David Granger-led PNC offered the best opportunity for the way forward.  I believed that then, and I still have regard for former President Granger.  If automatic tarring and feathering accompanies such a stance, then I say, let it be.  For, when a man in the crucible of battle could throw in the towel, step aside, and relinquish the levers of power (rightfully so, and which I applaud), then I tip my hat to that leader, who put the interests of country first.

For sure, he went against his comrades; and for sure, there was the reality of foreign power, and the specter of many injurious things promised.  But, just as surely, he could have gone the other way, and because of that I urge my fellow Guyanese to pause from their incandescent individual and collective sizzles, and study the implications of what and where such a decision (to not move aside his party) could have led and meant for the diverse peoples of this country.  It is easy to babble about democracy, but the brutal realities to which I point have occurred in other societies (it is called civil war) because of the obstinacy of leaders bent a certain way, consumed with power and control, and to hell with the consequences, regardless of the sources, and their aggregated power.  For those who tell me that we live in a different time, I remind them that they said the same thing about the disappearance of something called a Cold War.

My point is that until and unless, we can think along these lines, about the other side of the coin, when doggedness takes hold, then we will perpetually limit ourselves, and condemn ourselves, to the place where we currently shelter and take comfort.  That place is tribal politics.  The strongholds are race hatreds.  They are of cult leadership followings.  They are those ready enthusiasms to condone limitless corruptions by our own, because the totality of our thinking and principles and truths (maybe, our morals also) is that the other man and other side did it before.

Of recent when I write about how and what I discern in candidates for PNC leadership, it is the only tool I have to express how my mind works.  If that God-given exercise, this constitutional right, this ethical imperative makes me an undesirable, then that is my fate, and of which I have no control.  I have no vote, wield no influence, embody no sway, with no particular preference.  But I do hope that there is some recognition for the honesty articulated before and, again, today.  I seek no reward, look for no friends.  But I do hope and work for what I think could make for a better Guyana.  Not for a party or a man or a candidate, but what means more for Guyanese.  If that makes me an enemy, I regret such existence.

But race-based politics has devastated the fabric of this society, and the very soul of each citizen, including those on the fence or farther from it.  The PNC and PPP had better work sincerely and consistently for this race-based evil to be purged from the local political equation, or it will be taken out of their hands, sooner than they expect, which was something towards which the Vice President himself opened the door.

We will have to import labor.  It will be in legal and illegal quantities, which will knead our demographics into the unrecognizable.  I had predicted 5-10 years a few years back, but it would be shorter than that span.  The illegals could end up making personal social arrangements that regularize their residence and citizenship status.  That translates to voting power.  The rest I leave unsaid, save for what follows.  Tens of thousands of new citizens will not have the umbilical and blind attachment to either PPP or PNC, as has been present since our politics become our own responsibility.  Our future looks like our past: not our own.  The latter has always been dictated by my fellow Americans; the former would be in the hands of game breaking and game changing foreigners cum Guyanese citizens.

Who will we argue with and attack then?  It is either that both, and I emphasize this (both) the PNC and PPP abandon and exterminate race-based and tribal politics from their mindsets and modus operandi, or it will be taken out of their hand, sooner than later.  To Mr. Roysdale Forde, my thanks.  To those who vehemently disagree with all stated here, I extend my hand in brotherhood.  Join me in praying for Guyana and finding a way out of our race-based tribal politics.