SINCE Guyana entered the 2000s, there has been no effective leadership in the opposition political camp except from 2015 to 2020 when Dr Bharrat Jagdeo led the People’s Progressive Party Civic.
All of the opposition leaders appeared to be lacking the energy, commitment, political zeal, vision, strategy, and tactics for the job. They do not read and think beyond the surface. These leaders go with the wave or ride the tide set by their political party. After all, their supporters could be unreasonable and adopt the wrong position. These leaders do not try to guide them to the light or even tell them they are wrong. Finally, they failed in their bids to be responsible, honest and some lacked the integrity in politics for the job.
Sadly, they are not very enterprising, clever, and politically savvy to understand how the minds of Guyanese think and work. They do not understand the mood of the people at elections time and the period that follows.
The opposition is not short on talent, expertise, qualifications, or personal attributes to get the job done. The most militant and responsible Opposition Leader of the 2000s would be Mr.
Desmond Hoyte. He had all of the qualities referred to above but could not understand the mood of the people. He was good at holding his support but could not contain the extremism and racially insensitive views. This fact, coupled with the internal fight he was facing in the PNC did not allow him to be very successful. After giving his best to the job, he died in 2003.
Soon after, Robert Corbin slid his way into the top office. Many in the PNC thought some more intelligent statesman-like politicians could have done the job better. But Mr. Corbin came in a time where he could have shaped the opposition political arena in 2003. The others did not understand the mood of the people specifically, the black PNC supporters and underprivileged. Mr. Corbin took Jagdeo and PPP to task in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2011. But soon, the extremism in the party and similar movement would start to die, giving way to the politics of development, responsibility, and shared governance. It was time for a new approach, and Mr. Corbin had already suffered defeat at the hands of Jagdeo and PPP twice.
Despondent and tired, he had one last thing to do before bowing out. He could not trust anyone within the party leadership to lead. If he did, the PNC/R would descend into chaos, so he plotted Mr. David Granger’s entrance into the political arena.
Granger cleverly figured out how to form the opposition coalition APNU. The PNC took a back seat and ushered in the talk of shared governance, national unity, and reconciliation and healing. Soon the Working People Alliance and the Alliance For Change opposition parties were wowed into joining this Coalition and together, they managed to wrestle power from the PPP.
In steps Jagdeo went to the front of the then opposition PPP. He managed to unite the party regardless of the internal criticisms. Jagdeo went about it most quietly and uncharacteristically. He locked himself with a few close persons and used the strategy and people-centred politics to get back the government. As Opposition Leader, Jagdeo used intellect, vision, zeal, and integrity to unseat the Granger Government. But he did not barter the opportunity to be responsible and honest when there was the need to be. It took long, but he met every challenge as Opposition Leader.
And finally, we have come to the worse Opposition Leader since 2000. Joseph Harmon has shown no leadership traits. He does not strike as having the appetite for politics and good governance. Harmon has done well in the realm of politics of opportunism because it appears that the members of the opposition APNU+AFC are jumping on every single opportunity foolishly.
He allows the irresponsible and racist agenda to run wild in his camp. Harmon is no strategist. He is tone-deaf to the mood of the people. He has no support that matters in the PNC.
Arguably, honesty and integrity appear to be distant. Truths and facts are hardly ever-present. Having a good understanding of politics and the mood of people is a foreign concept to the opposition.
Guyana needs an effective Opposition Leader.