WPA rails against ethnic fear mongering

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Dr. Walter Rodney

…wants gov’t to act on findings of ‘imperfect’ Rodney CoI report

AS it observes the 39th Anniversary of Walter Rodney’s Assassination, the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) said government’s failure to act on the recommendations of the Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI), submitted more than three years ago, leaves much to be desired.

“For the WPA, the current government’s non-treatment of the findings and recommendations of the Rodney Commission of Inquiry was short-sighted. Despite the imperfections of the CoI, its findings should have been better engaged,” the WPA said on Wednesday. The WPA is a key member of the government with its chairman being the Minister of Public Service. Besides, some of the party’s leaders had raised suspicions about the PPP-inspired CoI with key players such as Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine refusing to give testimony despite his name featuring heavily during the inquiry.

Dr. Rodney, a Guyanese historian, political activist and academic, was assassinated on June 13, 1980. In 2015, the CoI headed by Barbadian Sir Richard Cheltenham, in his report, concluded that the late Gregory Smith was, Dr. Rodney’s assassinator and that he was an agent of the State having been aided and abetted so to do. The report ends with recommendations to improve the professionalism, speed, efficiency, and thoroughness of the operations of the Guyana Coroner’s Department, Police Force and army in service to the people of Guyana.

According to the WPA, which forms part of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Administration, the government missed a great opportunity to demonstrate to the country and the world that it has transcended the crippling politics of old. As such, it is of the opinion that the issues surrounding the assassination of Dr. Rodney are unfinished business.

“As we remember Walter Rodney, WPA recommits itself to continue the fight for the dismantling of the authoritarian state. As it was forty years ago, so it is today – there can be no genuine democracy and development without a State and a governance praxis that centres respect for dissent and for human dignity,” the WPA said.

In honour of Dr. Rodney’s legacy, WPA draws attention to the need to arrest at all levels, the dangerous descent into “zero-sum ethnic fear mongering.”
It noted that while such an approach may bring short-term benefits to the perpetrators, the long-term consequences for all ethnicities are devastating.

“As Rodney taught us, our historic ethnic problems are best engaged when our people struggle together in pursuit of their just rewards. Unwarranted ethnic hostility is one of the most potent forms of underdevelopment in societies like ours. In this regard, WPA pledges on this Rodney anniversary to expend more energies in the search for national reconciliation,” the alliance said.

It also reiterated its commitment to a Government of National Unity, noting that such is a necessary vehicle for reconciliation.

“(WPA) regrets that the government of which we are a junior partner has not been more forthright in working for its realisation. Our party continues to believe that no single party, regardless of its electoral might, could successfully manage this country. WPA therefore lends its voice again to the clamour for constitutional reform aimed at bringing our political arrangements in line with the needs of the country,” it said.

As the country prepares for another General and Regional Elections, the alliance made it clear it vehemently opposes electoral malpractice as a route to power.

“This is a fundamental principle of our party that is non-negotiable — WPA will not be part of any overt or covert plan or action to rig elections. To do so, would be a dishonour to the legacy of Walter Rodney and the other stalwarts of our party who gave their lives and sacrifices for free and fair elections that are free from fear. Towards this end our party is vigorously opposed to those in the opposition and other circles who are spreading false alarms about intentions to rig elections. WPA sees or knows of no plans in that regard,” it stated.

Meanwhile, it said Dr. Rodney’s anniversary comes on the heels of the death of another party stalwart, Andaiye Williams, noting that they represent the best of the country’s and region’s radical tradition.

“We remember Walter Rodney on June 13 every year, not just to pay homage to his legacy, but also to remind Guyana of both its transformative and traumatic past. As we navigate our independence journey, it is imperative that memory stands at the very centre of our trajectory. So, on this June 13, we use the opportunity to remind Guyana of Rodney’s place in our recent history and to recommit our party to its founding ideals which were at the core of Rodney’s activism. In remembering Rodney, we also remember other soldiers of the revolution who were cut down by the vicious hand of the regime of the day. We remember Ohene Koama, Edward Dublin and Fr. Bernard Darke,” it said.

This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rebellion of 1979, when over a period of approximately six months the WPA, with Dr. Rodney at the head, inspired sustained mass demonstrations and other related forms of protests that rocked the foundations of the country’s post-colonial order.

“During his six years of activism, 1974-80, Walter Rodney etched his name in the annals of Guyanese history as an apostle of self-emancipation who exhibited the rare capacity to absorb the revolutionary energies of the masses of people. He gave leadership to the emerging multiracial and multiclass energies and, along with the WPA, channelled them into a decisive movement for change and liberation. That intervention forever changed Guyana as it reintroduced the revolutionary praxis into the mass consciousness,” WPA recalled.

It said Dr. Rodney continues to live in the hearts of those who were touched by his sacrifices and example.