AT the media launch of its manifesto, the PPP made a very barefaced call for Coalition supporters to give the party a hearing. Its proxy presidential candidate is reported to have said the following words: “To those who may not have historically supported us, at least give us a chance, an opportunity to be heard. Give us an opportunity through this document to reach into your hearts, to reach into your homes so that you can analyse the plans that we have, so that you can make a more informed decision.”
The Political Teacher could not believe his eyes when he read those words–this could not be real. But after all, in politics all things are possible. And the PPP would go to any length to fool the public. Maybe Irfaan Ali may be too young to know of his party’s historic hostility to those who “may not have historically supported us.” Or maybe, he is pretending not to know. Wasn’t he there in Cabinet during the bad days?
First off, that group which has not historically supported the PPP has a collective ethnic identity—African Guyanese. Irfaan and Bharrat don’t have the courage to refer to them by their correct identity. From the time of the split of the PPP in 1955, the PPP declared war on that section of our society. Some African Guyanese leaders and supporters remained with the Jagan faction at the time of the split and some even voted for them at the 1957 election. But they were forced out of the party. In 1956, the African Guyanese leadership left and accused Dr. Jagan and the PPP of race politics. Kwayana was there. Martin Carter was there. Rory Westmass was there. They all left.
The 1957-64 PPP government had an anti-PNC supporters’ agenda. It marginalised the Civil Service. It refused to take Guyana into the West Indies Federation out of fear that Indian Guyanese would be ruled by Black West Indians. It invested in areas of the economy that were dominated by one race and marginalised those dominated by the other races. It helped to create the conditions for the racial disturbances of 1961-64.
Now the PPP wants to get into the hearts of PNCR supporters. Did they think of this when they were carrying blows to that community? When it returned to power in 1992, the PPP picked up from where it left off. It fired left, right and centre those PNC supporters. From the Foreign Service to the public service it wiped the PNC slate clean. It tried to ban Mashramai. It declared a new war on the Civil Service. The 1964 refrain of “not one damn cent more” was revived. After arbitration in 1999, the PPP refused to honour the recommendations.
When Jagdeo took power in 1999, all hell broke loose. Guyanese had to run for cover as his government imposed Rogue Governance on the country. When the dust settled, over 400 mainly Afro Guyanese were dead. Communities like Buxton were decimated. The Political Teacher remembers Donna McKinnon, Ronald Waddell, Courtney Crum Ewing, Ron Somerset, Ivan Lewis and Shemron Bouyea. The police were given licence to kill.
Jagdeo was in charge from 1999 to 2011. Irfaan was around. He was in Cabinet, so he bears responsibility too. Since they were defeated in 2015, they never said one word of apology to the community. Now, they are appealing for support. The Political Teacher believes all political contestants should be given a hearing. But in this instance, I break with that tradition. Irfaan, Bharrat and the PPP do not deserve a hearing from Coalition supporters. They should be free to go to all communities unmolested. But when they come, ignore them. Give them the silent treatment. Go about your business as if they are not there.
The Teacher says this to Irfaan: Tell us who killed Donna McKinnon and Waddle and Crum Ewing. Tell us what you know about Roger Khan’s doings. Tell us about the schemes to get Black youth into the dancehalls rather than into jobs. Tell us why Black organisations were dissed when they demanded a say where the 1823 monument should be erected. Tell us why you destroyed Buxton. Until you do so, this Political Teacher says that PNC supporters should not give you a chance.