SO, Lenox Shuman is another political aspirant who has just made what amounts to his first substantive political statement, via his political party, the Liberty and Justice Party(LJP): “Shuman’s party joins fight against house-to-house registration.” Guyana Chronicle of July 27, 2019.
His main thrust in his letter, is that his Amerindian “brothers” and “sisters”, stand to be affected by the current exercise of house-to-house registration, because a significant number of them are employed in “mining’’ and ‘’logging’’ throughout Guyana which, if Shuman is to be understood, means that their geographic locations will prevent them from being registered.
One takes this as his reason for objecting to the legal pre-election procedure. He further seeks to support this objection, and reason, by alluding to Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield’s statement that the expired list can suffice for elections by a claims and objections period. As a result, he has decided to mount a court challenge.
First of all, it is quite clear that Shuman is mouthing the dangerous nonsense of the political opposition and all the other vested interest forces, and that he has become a proxy for a well-known, former “conscience of the nation,” whose pretence has finally been blown open as a result of this now concubinage with the very political criminals that he had once criticised.
Secondly, it is interesting to note that this former toshao is describing Indigenous people as being “marginalised”, while expressing concerns that their employment itinerary will cause them to be affected by the current house-to-house exercise.
Editor, it is his right to agitate for his people but, immediately, Shuman is guilty of gross hypocrisy here, since he must know, as he surely does, that the coalition government, since 2015 has poured finances, going into the billion-dollar range, into removing Amerindian communities and their citizens from a state of socio-economic primitive existence that became a fact under the 23 years of PPP/C governance. In fact, one wonders where was Shuman when the PPP/C was insulting Amerindians with outboard engines and chainsaws, thus ensuring their political subservience; never encouraging their community leaders to effect Village Improvement Plans for the socio-economic advancement of their communities, as the coalition government has since 2015 been doing.
I will be the first to admit that very much still needs to be done for the Indigenous peoples; but, in the same breath, a tremendous amount, qualitatively, has been done by way of programmes enacted for empowerment of Amerindian communities and their citizens for secure livelihoods by the coalition government, rather than a dependency model as fostered during the PPP/C regime. One only has to look at the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) programme which, since its enactment, has been giving life skills training to hundreds of Amerindian youths, in addition to start-up finances for business ventures, rather than the $30,000 monthly paid to a dubious category once branded as “community support officers” for mere PPP/C propaganda dissemination.
Improvements to, and the building of aerodromes, bridges and roads for improved connectivity. Then there is the installation of ICT HUBS; radio stations for informing hinterland communities, because they have a right to know, rather than being deliberately kept in the dark, as had been the case during the PPP/C regime; and the creation of municipal towns, designed as capital towns for influencing economic growth in the administrative regions, inclusive of Indigenous peoples.
The above are just a sample of some of the socio-economic programmes which continue to effect changes to hinterland communities and the indigenous population, with the effect of gradually closing the gap between the coastal and the hinterland, in terms of socio-economic development, health and standards of living. One must now demand of Shuman where was his voice of protest against PPP/C degradation and disrespect of his “brothers and sisters” when the then government rode rough shod, trampling over the rights of his brethren, and their cries were being met with abuse and threats? Surely, he must know that no such behaviour is part and parcel of the coalition understanding of governance.
Thirdly, Indigenous peoples have always been spread, throughout their geographic space, in terms of employment opportunities. The latter, to the best of knowledge and memory, has never been a constraint/humbug in their ability to access the facility of house-to-house registration for participation in national elections.
Thus, Shuman’s “worry” is of the greatest invention of a most fertile imagination, which the court must find, when his challenge comes to court. Fourthly, the methodology of claims and objections is not a known safe, thorough or even effective means for updating a national list of registrants, from which a final voters’ list is prepared. This process is likened unto a sieve filled with holes. It is a recipe for national injustice to thousands, which cannot be allowed to happen under a government that believes in the rights of citizens.
Finally, to the Shumans – what you bring to the national table thus far, smells of that old familiar programme of political opportunism by those who do not believe nor subscribe to the rights of Indigenous peoples and improvements to their communities and daily lives, much less in a vision which pertains to ALL GUYANESE. Further, politics should be about service to the people, and improvements to their lives, and not about disgusting arrogance and authoritarian behaviour, such as you chasing a religious representative out from your community, which had been reported in sections of the national media.