GECOM’S ETHNIC COMPOSITION REFLECTS THE REALITIES OF GUYANA


It is with trepidation that I venture to write about an issue such as this, which invokes controversies from all sides. To deal with it realistically though, I have to reflect on another contentious aspect of our recent history, which continues to drive fear into the minds of a vast number of people. The results of the 1992 elections alone, ignoring all the other evidence, prove beyond any conceivable doubt that all prior elections in Guyana as an independent nation were rigged. The failure of the PNC to acknowledge that past, and its role in it, has left more than a lingering sense of suspicion in the minds of a large number of people. The suspicion is, that with the PNC once again in power, rigged elections are back on the agenda. Some PNC members, supporters and sympathisers don’t seem to understand this, or if they do, don’t care about it. Rigged elections in the past aggravated ethnic disharmony by creating the feeling in one section of the population that its vote was either being stolen or was worthless. Hence the controversy over employment practices at GECOM. I am not saying anything that is not widely known and accepted, although many would not wish to acknowledge it.

Guyana’s population has had decided preferences in terms of employment. We have always had African Guyanese tending towards employment in the state sector. In the private sector, they are mostly located in administration, rather than as entrepreneurs. Notwithstanding 28 years of PNC rule, during which African Guyanese were encouraged to go into business, followed by 23 years of PPP rule, during which Indian Guyanese were encouraged to seek employment in the state sector and particularly the security services, the essential employment preferences at the time of Independence has remained largely intact today. These employment preferences are rooted mainly in history.

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‘NO DEMOCRACY WORKS WITHOUT COMPROMISE’


The headline statement of President Barack Obama was of general application. It assumed more resonance when the Democrats lost the majority in Congress. The PPP learned the lesson that politics is the art of compromise before President Obama was born. Compromise was the basis of its early leadership. It was attempted during the crisis years of the early 1960s, then during authoritarian rule. Compromise allowed it to negotiate around oppression and build alliances for survival.

Yet, ignoring this history, pro-PPP/Government criticisms greeted my article last week (“The chickens have come home to roast”) in which I suggested compromises to get agreement on the AML/CFT bill. One critic accused me of adopting ‘false equivalencies’ between Government and Opposition, forgetting that the legislature, in the expression of its majority will, is of equal status with the executive. The other suggested that I should stop recommending compromises and get ‘backbone.’ Both ignored the fact that the Government holds a minority position in the National Assembly, cannot get its legislation passed without Opposition support, and itself offered compromise solutions to Opposition demands.

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