GUYANA has come a far way since the beginning of the struggle against racism, inequality and political discrimination in this hemisphere. Specifically, it has passed through certain phases where different groups of people lobbied against the State for protection from the ongoing and senseless racial discrimination whenever it started raising its shameless head and creeping into society. These groups lobbied hard and long so that the Government-of-the-day would adopt a policy of equality, equity, non-discrimination and anti-racism into our laws which forms part of the Constitution.
The struggle against inherent racism and institutional discrimination began in the early 80s and 90s using all available and new campaigns in Guyana. The message would be to end racism and discrimination on all fronts, especially political discrimination which had its set of consequences as seen by Guyana’s own makeup. This message got across to everyone, it would seem, and slowly a wave of change started engulfing Guyana.
People became much more respectful and tolerant of each other’s race, traditions and cultures leading to a rich multicultural society today.
But the threats of racism, inequality and political discrimination would always be present and would stirup strive against various groups in the society from time to time. And Guyana’s history has shown that politicians who thrive, win or whip-up massive support by fanning those flames of racism, inequality and discrimination where it did not exist or without evidence must be strongly disciplined, condemned and challenged at every turn that they argue.
It is a fact that racism exists. Even more so is the case for political discrimination. But it is not being sponsored by the State or Government. It could not be part of policies articulated by this Irfaan Ali administration or the legislative branch in the National Assembly nor the judicial branch.
Therefore, everyone has the right to claim they “feel like they are being racially profiled and discriminated against”. There are entities charged with the responsibility of investigating such claims to the end. There is the Government, Judiciary, the Ethnic Relations Commission, Rights Commissions, lobby organisations and UN-affiliates both regionally and internationally.
So, what this Government is doing, in the discharge of its mandate, is not racist. It must not be seen as political discrimination or fostering inequalities. It is practising good governance by taking the alternative approach to witch-hunting and persecution.
Note that every single time you hear the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) speak they are trying hard to convince the public that there is racism and discrimination afoot. But they stop short of providing the irrefutable evidence that could stand the test of scrutiny.
Almost, every time they talk about “the ethnic cleansing” of the public service they are only talking about their agents and supporters who have publicly declared their non-support of the Government and seek to frustrate the efforts towards change on the ground whether quietly or otherwise. This is what any Government would do if you have known APNU+AFC party personalities stacked in key roles and frustrating the process of development. There is no race-based discrimination because of the colour of your skin. If you were any other race, once you breach the rules or your contract ends and Government now doesn’t favour renewing, you were gone.
This is the same for the business interests. How come the APNU+AFC does not make the claim that Government is racist or being discriminatory with the cases related to BK International, Larry Singh and Maraj Contracting Service et al? These businessmen it is alleged are not doing the work how they were supposed to and the Government is wasting no time in seeking to recoup millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds. Are they just collateral damage in the APNU+AFC racial and discrimination diatribe?
The alleged corrupt land deals involving Trevor Benn and others, and the alleged elections scandals involving the now famous Volda Lawrence, Keith Lowenfield, Clairmont Mingo and Roxanne Meyers are not cases of racial and political discrimination. The latter four allegedly tried all they could to rig an election by reportedly engaging in gross misconduct of their offices and themselves. It just so happens that they are from the same racial grouping.
As the Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo, places it, “Now, every single person knows that they committed illegalities. It just so happens that they are Afro-Guyanese. But these are people that we fought against (their) illegalities… The Caribbean Court of Justice said this guy (Lowenfield) was acting like a lone ranger. They hid the Statements of Poll, criminal behaviour. This is not an indictment of Afro-Guyanese, it is against those who committed elections fraud, and if there are Indo-Guyanese who’re in that too, they too should face the consequences. So, in the future, nobody again will want to do that when they see these people face the consequences.”
And he pointed out that, “The people who are the most racist, who thrive on racism, they have the most self-righteous ways of accusing others of racism. That is what is happening, and they’ve gotten away with it for a very long time because people in Guyana like to tiptoe around these issues.”
The APNU+AFC is a weak opposition, fractured and battered by the loss that they suffered at the polls. There are now going back in time to use expressions from the Robert Corbin and Desmond Hoyte, Forbes Burnham eras cause the David Granger era is replete with too many faux pau and errors to mention. Mr Joseph Harmon, the Opposition Leader will have to change course pretty soon because this bandwagon is getting old and stale.