GUYANA -ASHNI VS.OPPOSITION

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Back in the 90’s, Jagdeo’s Party realized that pumping out a continuous stream of deliberately inaccurate statements left little time for processing and just as much for an effective veracity challenge.

It is a strategy taken from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, where the anticipation is the “unqualified capacity for falsehood”, when produced in volume…

The net effect was the survival of lies by default and a non-PPP electorate too demoralized, drained and unenlightened, to demand the pursuit of truth.

This ‘Big Lie’ stratagem remains interwoven in PPP politics, clearly, considering Ashni Singh’s attempt to laugh off the existence of racial discrimination by government practice, expecting us, with numb acceptance, to laugh right along with him.

Claiming that the Opposition has no sensible response to the PPP’s agenda comes with complications… the primary one being a non-contending Opposition that continues to boycott Parliament for interests …not of national benefit. Conflating the COALITION’S absence from Parliament, with the systemic barriers to the benefits of an inclusive government, by throwing out the term “ethnic bogeyman”, is no camouflage for the fact that there is ethnic discrimination in government’s opportunities for Afro Guyanese

And this is where the Opposition comes in.

It would be to national advantage for this arm of Government to release an informed opinion of the benefits of the Budget, having had its experts and qualified help do a line item analysis –Scoring of the Budget. It would help too, not only because it is General Practice but because Ashni has a reputation that survived legal process and not through proof of innocence. And- in not executing with due diligence, the Opposition has cleared the way for government to, calculatedly, mock real concern in the public square, with the intent of making the government’s preposterous deeds look less scandalous.

Claiming employment inclusivity is easy for the PPP because, unlike the countries of its resident diplomatic community – the  UK, US and Canada – which have Government Labor Departments that actually break down Employment, that vital component for national GDP by Race, Guyana does not…and as tactic.

The nation has been the recipient of loans, grants and financial incentives from institutions like the World Bank, and UN Agencies; all of which stipulate a nondiscrimination clause and economic inclusivity as a condition for the assistance, to which the PPP agrees, as a matter of course. Ashni Singh, as the Minister of Finance, would have been responsible for the preparation of reports to attest to his government’s compliance with the terms of the granted assistance and those reports, signed off by the Auditor General who happened to be his wife, must have conformed.

Charges for impropriety were dropped against him and he was returned to office by the current government because his unique dexterity in managing the nation’s finances seemed never to create budgets on the basis of equal opportunity, representation by percentage of population, parity for infrastructure maintenance in all areas, to avoid what could not escape the perception of discrimination.

It’s the kind of silent terrorism that succeeds in democracies with Oppositions that do not exercise their mandate.

Take, for example, this rousing, righteous speech by Singh to the United Nations in April of this year, constructed on a platform of economic resilience. We won’t ask why the Opposition has not asked for tangibles on this internationally broadcast plan because it appears that their agenda is a Party Campaign vehicle that is yet to be transformed into a national train, with specifically designed carriages to meet the nation’s needs.

A look at the country’s employment chart tells a story that they should be using right now to hold the government to its pledge of economic resilience, which cannot be met when unemployment is such a threat to GDP…even with out the break down by ethnicity and/or gender. And the fact that the condition is chronic calls for even more of an economic diagnosis.

Other leading indicators don’t paint such a rosy picture either. Female education for employment readiness is as alarming as the male statistic and social measures like infant mortality, all of which indicate what is being spent to improve social wellbeing, are as bad as external public debt and as concerning as the relative ineffectiveness of government. 

Government, remember, is the combination of the ruling Party and the Opposition, the check and balance arm of the Administration. The functional Opposition, works with its Government to analyze proposals, present alternatives when necessary, then report to the nation which it serves, what its findings are and why they support or disagree with government’s positions. It is not a wedge entity, a stumbling block or an individual arm that can perform outside of Parliament because it does not have the clout or voting mandate to implement its specific agenda.

This is why it has to know its role in government and honor its obligation to be political stewards for the entire nation.

Part of this obligation is to, continuously, educate its electorate honestly, on what it can do, why negotiating with the ruling Party is critical to having goods and services trickle down to communities.  And when it doesn’t, it cedes this ground to the government which swoops in and preys on the lack in communities, the brokenness of families that cannot make ends meet because the very government is withholding these commodities and making spokespeople for their insidious cause, out of those who are victims of its orchestrated lack.

We’ve seen street criers in villages touting the good of a government that is openly oppressive because they- the criers- have pawned their political and cultural values for a path to economic survival. This, typically, is the mark of failure by political leaders who insist on a 1 dimensional approach to governance using race as the path to success. The current Opposition has the opportunity to deflect this tactic by focusing on the economic status of those not benefitting from government policy; by working to improve their socioeconomic lot.

Can’t do this by pledging to boycott Parliament, the seat of governance. Political self-service ranks amongst the primary causative factors of governing failure. And those who support this extra curricula parliamentary activity are equally as guilty of making misguided leadership immeasurably worse.

Threaten but Participate, an enduring principle of The Boycott, infers that it’s not a tool for self-aggrandizement.

Ashni’s tirade was unleashed because he expects it to go unchallenged, to be drawn up into the mash of racial aversion, never to be deconstructed.

It wouldn’t hurt to say that the Opposition can disentangle the mash up by showing where the government is deliberately overstating accomplishments. It wouldn’t hurt to say not attending Parliament is a loss for a nation that elected its Opposition to be its check and balance.

The fact is, Guyana, with all of its potential wealth and superficial bells and whistles as a ‘champion of democracy’, is closer to a failed state than not.

The Government isn’t alone in failing the nation. Though it’s not the principal wrongdoer, by refusing to function in the capacity for which it was elected makes the Opposition complicit in government wrongdoing.

Its preference not to act is what fuels the accusations from the likes of Ashni. …who doesn’t mind turning a governing tragedy into a national calamity… confident that we’re all too numb and desensitized to recognize that he’s shoveling stuff into the information zone… which will disenfranchise ONLY the portion of the electorate that does not support the ruling Party’s slanted policies, as the elected Opposition refuses to sit at the table.

We’re still a democracy, last we checked…so we’ll still call out a self-serving Opposition, elected on a promise of service to the people, as not doing what they said they would.

We will keep our Republic, at least, for now.

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