–adjusting to new governance
HUMAN cultural heritage is driven by several elements, such as religion; creeds that drive daily habits, from rituals of prayer; hygiene and culinary tastes; to the ego and our prejudices.
Pivotal to all this is our pursuit of livelihood. We interact with the norms presented to us, and they become the normalcy of acquiring sustenance.
For example, lets flashback to past humanity. The Viking could not see his raids to other villages outside of his world from a moral point of view; the very religion that engulfed him forbade that. He could only reach the heaven of his Gods if he died in battle; Valhalla was forbidden to cowards, as modern human right tenets would be interpreted in that day.
Here in Guyana, in our time, say the past 50 years or so, some two generations were brought up according to that which replaced the colonial culture of British Guiana, with popular ‘isms’ like socialism which included youth training organisations like the Guyana Youth Corps, the National Service, and the Pioneer Corps; learning a different history, and to appreciate the peculiar customs of the various peoples thrown together to shape the tapestry of the Guyanese being.
All this is, however, engulfed by the governing politics; its mechanisms and mannerisms that both inspire and depress, for, always, there are opposing opinions driven by values diverse in principle and empathy.
CULTURE OF POLITICS
The culture of politics can overwhelm purer progressive priorities, for politics, like all principles, has both a benevolent and a malevolent side. We have witnessed this in Guyana: The surge for ‘Power’; the descent to micro-management; the lack of leadership qualities to intercept the criminalisation of the State; and at critical times succumbing to its lure.
This existed through the Jagdeo years to the final months of 2015; a strange fraternity of a political culture, where mediocrity, indifference and the callous loyalty to power were evident.
In the absence of any moral strength or enlightened ability to manage it, the nation descended to a situation whereby it was every man for himself. As one businessman put it: “Wheh you see wrong, I see opportunity.”
The current politics does not believe in micro-management, as the City Council will learn. This I know, because I have worked with persons at the highest levels of this administration before it existed, and the criteria was accountable excellence rather than micro-management.
I can share a tale or two about micro- management. Back in 2011, Denis Ward, a colleague of mine, came to me with a proposal that I should consider taking the $1M that then President Jagdeo was offering as an initiative to produce a short film, since I had unpublished scripts.
“Why not the Department of Culture?” I enquired. I didn’t like the scenario, as, some weeks before, Jagdeo had usurped some other minister, eclipsing that person’s presentation. So I declined.
When Jagdeo was leaving office, an artist complained that they were being coerced by a certain group, a legacy of the Roger Khan era, to go to the Stadium at Providence and perform to show appreciation for Jagdeo.
I must admit, I laughed at him. I told this artist that I didn’t envy his ‘court jester’ role. No president had ever demanded this before; this was the ego of micro management and it was pathetic and despiseable.
ONE WITH A DIFFERENCE
The present system differs vastly, in that it has demonstrated, as evidenced, that it requires delegated and designated officialdom to perform within the borders of their mandate, and to demonstrate initiative, justice and imagination with a social conscience, because the State IS THE PEOPLE.
But the stark reality is that the current state is not alone, for it carries in its bosom many of the functional trolls of the past system in its workforce; some with political loyalties cemented by the criminalised state and the daily practice of runnings.
Two recent events indicate a movement by the present state to correct its own instruments of public management.
The first was the Minister of State publicly admitting that it was the “miserable performance in public infrastructure spending” that caused the shuffling of permanent secretaries; that based on investigations, there was some element of wrongdoing in some cases. No cover-up; no loyalty; no pat on the shoulder!
The second was the alarming exposé as to the quality of nurses we have these days, with more than two-thirds of them failing their competency test. Who designed the criteria that employed such an imbalance in an extremely sensitive sector, where the slightest error could mean certain death?
But the latter scenarion could very well be credited to another disclosure made by the Minister of State, in that just about 6.1% of the budgets before 2015 were allotted to Education, in contrast to the 17.2 % in this new dispensation. Then, if so be the case, where did we expect to get excellent nurses or their teachers from?
We have to remember the exodus of teachers in the late 90s; yet, no attempt was ever made during that period, as revealed by the budgetary allocations, to remedy the situation.
**No one can say that we are unaware that Guyana In 2017 does have a literacy problem among our young, under the past regime they were induced to the macabre option of becoming ‘Gunmen’ body guards of both untouchable top criminals and their political affiliates, back then they had nothing to fear from the Police, should they break the law.
Today we live in a changing world external to Guyana, whose shadow is falling back on us. The cash flow of governments cannot be generated by selling 82% of pristine forest lands to a foreign nation as was done by the past regime to the Chinese, with the promise of selling our fishing rights, if re-elected, for kick-backs. If not that, then what? Sheer stupidity?
The resources have to be protected; local businesses have to be encouraged and guided to sensibly sustain and prosper through our national resources. Demands that were not anticipated now have to be addressed. New employment; facilities to deal with drug-related mental disorders; the burden to provide adequate housing, a definite source of stress stemming from a housing sector corrupted by ‘runnings’ and ‘drug money’ and monies gained from bribes and money laundering schemes.
These problems can only be faced by a political management completely opposite to the past. No doubt, the temptation of billions of dollars schemed from the State through theft will lure some from the present regime; the historical precedents exist. As terrible as the Nazi regime was, it placed the SS commandant of a concentration camp before the firing squad for the theft of murdered prisoners’ valuables.
To inspire this generation that the wrongdoings of the past were reprehensible, then both SARU, for public theft, and The Hague, for genocide, must become common cultural references of change, as well as the shaping of the new economy, which must leave no potential unattended.