At the nucleus of the furor over the ‘unilateral’ selection of James Patterson to head Guyana Elections Commission, GECOM, is an emboldened Bharat Jagdeo, an infamous vestige of the ethno nationalism he piloted during the twenty three years he pretended to govern a country of six races with an even hand, while subverting the very constitution he now defends with the impostures of faux patriotism.
That he continues to portray the part of Political Messiah, is the causal effect of the Coalition Administration’s Communications Team still operating at levels of inaudibility.
One would expect that Communications is actually the profession of this Team and since it should be, a subject like Jagdeo, whose pledged raison d’etre is to “keep the government on its toes…hold them accountable”, should not enjoy the exemption of news coverage that he does by these professionals hired to communicate on the government’s behalf, while Opposition Media spotlights the Government with ill intent; especially since he just oozes news .
Uncouth hardly does justice to Jagdeo’s general astringency.
The epic example remains and will be logged in posterity as the midnight hour of May 25th 2016, when the nation, both near and far, was gathered as one to celebrate its grandest anniversary yet, its 50th year, its Golden Jubilee. It was this stage that Jagdeo handpicked to confirm that he is an unprocessed egomaniacal fake, whose patriotism is founded in partisanship, bound by racial showmanship, grounded in manipulation and deceit.
Detracting from the sacrosanctity of the occasion which celebrated, the nation, the country and its fiftieth year of Independence from Colonial rule, this uniquely evil purveyor of bedlam and efficient worker of iniquity, chose to stage a political walk out by his party because they were not – horror of all horrors– seated as a group, at a celebration that was lauding national achievement for the multiplicity of ethnic origins that comprise the country’s socio political landscape.
Most of us weren’t surprised.
After all, he had made pissing on the Constitution Guyana’s equivalent to a blood sport at the Roman Coliseum, where Afro Guyanese and those who ran asymmetrically to his ethnic order and fascist ideology were fed to the lions of unemployment and social malaise; as a kind of divine retribution to a regime whose policy was fueled by diabolical intent.
This is his mix…that intent and pandemonium which invades and infects people’s private space, causing collective worry, resulting in a nation on perpetual edge and endless anxiety, alienation of one another, unrest and even violence. He’s best when this is the social climate.
And, though we weren’t surprised, what we were disappointed in was the Coalition Administration’s Communications Team’s limp response to this malefactor and this specific act; which is a significant metric for subversion by someone who once held the country’s highest office.
Maybe we don’t know what this Administration is hoping to get from its Communications Team but we would like to think that, it being a political comms team, its mission is to clearly define this government which would mean differentiating it from others with skilled subtlety; effectively articulate its direction which would mean stating its deeds with clarity; informing the nation of its accomplishments which would mean frequency….to list a few rudiments of the trade. Additionally, its aim must be to dominate the news cycle which is filtered to the public through other forms of media -television, print, radio and conversation – bearing in mind that the dissemination will be subject to selective interpretation by these media, so consistency across all forms of Government media will be dire for efficacy.
But there’s an administrative nimbleness, a functional agility that continues to elude this Government – A Partnership for National Unity APNU (itself a combination of political parties) 30 months into its tenure and six months before the beginning of its Sunset Clause with the Alliance For Change AFC, that makes many supporters nervous causing, possibly, the paralysis of the Comms Team to be an affliction by imitation.
There is a clear dichotomy within this Coalition’s support base and there is due speculation on how people driven by two schools of thought can support one person. This is not to indulge, groundlessly, in counter-factual speculation but merely to note that this Administration, this government that does not contain Bharat Jagdeo, was the hope of those who voted against him and remains the vision of those who failed to strive under him and every variation of his party and its ideology.
And, when offered the Choice between a Granger led Coalition and incumbent Jagdeo and his Opposition, the Coalition won.
The problem is that it seems to have forgotten that this is the proximate reason it was elected and has since set the great Ship of State on a course that is contrary to that which was promised; causing the disappointment quotient to rise to exponential levels as parallels to the previous government face the electorate every day.
One of the things they don’t forget is that the President, in a move that began the undoing of the Coalition’s credibility, gave his cabinet a 50% raise mere weeks after his election…”to assure the public of the efficiency and commitment of the Ministers …to ensure that the coalition’s Cabinet is such that there is a high level of efficiency. The changes have been an investment in quality governance …”
It remains an investment in performance futures that is yet to yield benefit to the tax payers, who are still smarting from the capped raise they received after being made to wait their turn in a bourgeois/ proletariat demonstration that we hope was inadvertent but remains indelible, nonetheless.
The President and his government are now significantly unpopular and seem either not to care or not to know…a result, most likely, from the obsequious support they enlist with organized appearances and select guest lists. Trips to the Diaspora are tantamount to state secret, revealed to a filtered few with requisite Party bona fides, where questions are vetted prior to being posed and answers pre-packaged prior to delivery. Indeed, fund raising for causes with attractive alliterations like ‘Bikes, Books and Boats’ is a thing of nobleness and may be good for the Party but when is the President, who pledged to be a good President for all people -meaning even those not in his Party or without party affiliation – and his men, who’re frequently available for these events with the usual cast of characters, going to make himself and men available for a real Diaspora meet up?
Maybe we can all show up at the Meet and Greet on November 3rd or the event on November 4th 2017 in Atlanta Georgia where they will be honorees and ask why there’s this aversion to an open meeting , like India’s Narendra Moodi, amongst other Heads of State, had at Madison Square Garden, to meet his Diaspora and yes, we’ll settle for a less splendorous venue…especially since it would be more affordable for so many more who want to talk to him.
But let’s get back to the GECOM saga and Bharat Jagdeo’s crusade for Constitutional upkeep.. while submitting the name of Norman McLean to meet the criteria of ‘not unacceptable’ and ‘fit and proper’. We’ll ignore the criterion that says ‘held office as a judge of a court’. Too much irony, given the amount of times he sat across from a judge in a court of law as a criminal defendant. We’ll just use the submission of his name to underscore Jagdeo’s seriousness of appointing a qualified candidate.
While Guyana is theoretically a multi-party state, its history has made it a de facto two party system with an ideological corpus that is predicated upon race. To argue otherwise would be to romanticize the philosophies of the founders of the main political parties and to ignore the uncomfortable fact that there was a permissability bestowed upon the PPP for the decades they were allowed to chip away at the Constitution, subvert laws and co-opt systems, all for the personal benefit of their leaders and acolytes; as the Opposition sat back in neutered political catatonia, some submitting on an individual basis, selling their political souls for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.
So, now we’re in the moment of GECOM and the President’s ‘unilateral’ appointment of a Chairman… which seems to have been unilaterally done in accordance with the prescriptions of the Constitution, that gives the President the right to determine a person who is not ‘unacceptable’ but ‘fit and proper’ and who has held ‘office as a judge of a court’.
It may be good to mention, at this point, that the Carter/Price Formula which was introduced in 1992 was intended to be a temporary guideline and was noted to have had its own perils, since the execution of the selection process was left up to politicians who are inherently biased by profession. Recommendations to replace the formula because of the potential for partiality were made in a 2005 report prepared by former Chief Elections Officer of Jamaica, Carl Dundas titled “Final Report on Redrafting and Modernizing the Electoral Laws of Guyana”. The publication was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
As of April 2017, Jagdeo said he was yet to read the recommendations from 2005 even though he and his successor Ramotar, were in office for ten years after the report was created.
Now this is where it gets curious – especially since the Carter /Price formula is now being touted as law by virtue of it being established convention and consistent practice for twenty five years. The fact that recommendations to rectify were ignored by Jagdeo and company since 2005 suggests that they were enjoying some measure of benefit from being able to make the appointments to GECOM. I mean, the very people who created the stop gap fix in 1992 warned that it should be temporary because it was prone to corruption. So why didn’t, Jagdeo, whose name is omnipresent when corruption is present, ever fix this problem, if he is so Constitution conscious and all for propriety?
And what about this hypocrisy, this claim that a method implemented on the basis of it being temporary because of its inherent flaws, subsequently fixed by a study done in 2005, is rule of law and an adoptee of the Constitution because it has become established convention and consistent practice for twenty five years?
To declare this practice Constitutional Rule by virtue of consistency and longevity, is to categorize the misappropriation of land and other patrimony that occurred for the decades of PPP plunder as lawful.
The thing can’t be the disease and cure at the same time.
You can’t say that we used it temporarily because it was flawed and fixed it in 2005 because of said flaws then claim this flawed formula as grandfathered into the Constitution because of length of practice and supposed convention.
That it remained a tool for elections, in spite of flaws identified since 1992 and despite the 2005 recommendations of Jamaica’s Carl Dundas published by USAID, suggests that Jagdeo and his Party thought that appointing the GECOM Chairman should have its final say by the sitting President, especially if they could remain entrenched by having the Chairman declare that the country was “not prepared for scheduled elections” and delayed for reasons made by unilateral decision….. except that the electorate knew that it was Jagdeo’s way of maintaining fascist rule.
Now he’s opposing with a savage vehemence.
We expected no less, since this arm of government, in manifold manner, conflates Political Opposition with opposition for the mere purpose of opposing, in indiscriminate fashion and with capricious judgment. Though they are paid by the tax payers, their actions are anchored in self-service, spinning counter productively on an axis of upheaval.
So, like the walk out during a moment of national reverence at midnight on May 25th 2016, this, too, is another show of Jagdeo’s loutish faux reverence for the Constitution, a document he all but took to the latrine every day, in unbridled practice of constitutional anarchy, while serving as President.
Not being a lawyer and with my comprehensive ability not being a known impediment, it seems that President Granger has made a call that falls within his constitutional authority.
That aside, the true crisis at hand is the impending 2020 General Election, and how prepared the incumbent, presumably the entire Coalition, is.
There’s a combination of diagnoses here that could render their current illness terminal.
An over extension of basking in the glow of victory as the electorate determines functional mismanagement is not a good look; neither is their post- election paralysis, part of which leaves urgent issues like containing crime in suspended planning- within an administration that has hundreds of years of military experience and hundreds of training hours in military and internal security courses, collectively.
These are just a few of the primary systemic afflictions.
Then there are those that are tertiary …the ones that should be addressed on the way to fixing the system as a whole…like listening to the voices and the platforms that inspired the swing vote which got them the votes needed to get them elected…to name a few.
And whilst they are still in pigeon –chested posture, 30 months into a tenure that is not particularly boast-worthy, Bharrat Jagdeo is licking his chops as he celebrates their blunders, positioning himself as government in waiting-
not to improve the country’s unemployment rate, for which he is directly responsible;
not to improve the country’s school houses and portals for education, the disrepair of which he is directly responsible;
not to improve the country’s health care system – the decrepitude of which accelerated under his watch;
not to improve social good will and general well being, when statistically, there were more robberies and murders, deaths of young males, deaths by domestic violence,suicides, vicious assaults, citizen murders by police, influx of drugs, accumulation of guns by citizens under his governance….
No, not to do any of those things because they will only be of benefit to the nation, to each Guyanese, regardless of school district, irrespective of ethnicity, with disregard to partisan alignment.
He is plotting to fulfill the dynastic ambitions that his ideology flaunts in the imagery of a ‘Fantastic new India’as proponed by the British Guiana East Indian Association under Jung Bahdur Singh … to continue to allot land on 99 year leases with rights to transfer ownership to successive generations, systemically excluding the other five ethnicities but particularly the Afro Guyanese for whom there is a dated dislike and dedication to subordinate.
The surreptitious gifting of land in a move to establish racial dominance was one of the reasons Jagdeo lost the last elections. The slothful repatriation of the people’s property by this government which ran on a platform of law and order with immediate commitment to restoration and repair is why he may win in 2020.
There’s some cognitive dissonance here.
Like the last government and governments before that, the Coalition has employed that relic of rule, that ideological mandate that supplants the ideas of party activists and “those in the trenches”over fresh thoughts, modern approaches, new methods. Thus, the sycophantic few remain relevant by creating new wedges which ultimately serve only to separate government from the people and this Coalition from the polls. We were hoping that this hybrid of parties would have been progressive enough to employ modern tools, evaluate the different forms of political risk management, manage blame and blame -risk in the political arena. And if they didn’t have those tools, have that expertise, we expected them to be humble enough to seek help, not only because they preached inclusiveness on their campaign but mostly because it’s a government that they are running and not their private business.
So, though Jagdeo is luring the bull to his corner with the red flag of GECOM Chairman, the government would be better off working on its strategy to keep voters in its corner, given its erosion amongst supporters. Jagdeo is masterful at capturing the headlines and he is successful because government communication’s efforts are non tactical and reactionary.
And while everyone is distracted, he is mobilizing his members in the Diaspora , offering them rich and powerful gifts beyond the dreams of avarice, if they just hang tight and keep sending monetary support to maintain the density they currently have on every form of media.
They pay their bloggers to create content and pay their Face Book propagandist to troll, i.e post inflammatory and inciting stuff and coordinate their supporting media at home and abroad to run parallel stories. Their’s is a Communications behemoth because they’re making every effort to win.
The Coalition, on the other hand, remains in the thicket of past practices, making broad partisan appeal while hoping to secure non partisan support with a wafer thin media presence, supplemented by Party hype which washes away the “president for all people” pledge.
That said, the GECOM bull fight may have already been won by President Granger.
The question now is, what message does he have to persuade voters to stick with his side of the aisle, given that voting is based on retrospective sentiment?
And of greater importance, what does he say to the voters to whom he promised a better day and a brighter future, particularly those who only know the darkness of the Opposition as their political landscape, if he shatters their dreams because of some inexplicable bombast that could sully the opportunities for non -PPP parties moving forward?
What will history record then?