• 24 Feb, 2024

Guyana Opposition’s baseless accusation of racism against the PPP/C Government

Guyana Opposition’s baseless accusation of racism against the PPP/C Government

Guyana Opposition’s baseless accusation of racism against the PPP/C Government

Opposition elements have been launching an unending attack on the PPPC government accusing the administration of discrimination against Afro-Guyanese; of firing government workers; and of being “installed” into office, among other things. Says PNCR member, Mr. Errol J. Lewis: “The PPP with international help was installed as the government in Guyana, despite a recount that showed fraud was committed by the PPP/C.” 

Mr. Lewis captured the general mood of the PNCR towards the PPPC: “the PPP government is oppressive and authorizes regular wonton discrimination against Afro-Guyanese, and anyone supporting the Coalition.” He also stated that there was discrimination in COVID 19 relief distribution, and that discrimination accounted for over 1,000 public servants being dismissed from their jobs.

Whether Mr. Lewis and other PNCR members have succeeded in convincing all segments of their supporters with their caustic polemics as opposed to solid evidence is doubtful. The rhetoric has become so outlandish that even PNCR’s supporters question their viability. For example, PNCR’s Juretha Fernandes, MP said: “The PPP is in government now, and they are discriminating against every single person; and we cannot tolerate them.” This is the most convoluted statement to be uttered by an MP. The facts/evidence tell a different story.

What political leverage the PNCR could get from pushing forth their claim that the PPPC government was installed? The CARICOM high level team declared the PPPC as the winner of the 2020 regional and national elections after conducting a review of the recount operations. All the local political parties except the APNU coalition conceded that the PPPC won the elections. The coalition’s election petitions failed in the courts. All the western diplomatic missions (American, Canadian, European, UK) recognize the PPPC as the legitimate government and so is CARICOM, OAS, Commonwealth, the Carter Center, and 100 countries. Yet the PNCR has refused to accept the legitimacy of the PPPC government. 

What is even more astonishing is that despite their (PNCR) incredulous claim of being cheated out of office, they have refused to make their copies of SoPs (Statement of Polls) public. A party which claims victory would readily make their SoPs available to the public. 

PNCR fired 5,500 Indo-Guyanese sugar workers

The PNCR’s apparent pre-occupation with the race factor as a political tool is also based on their claim that the PPPC government fired over 1,000 of their supporters upon taking office in 2020. Every new government tends to fire political and contract employees. This is well established practice in any democracy. The PNCR is acquainted with this practice and applied it when they took power in 2015 and fired over 7,000 sugar workers (of which over 5,500 were Indo-Guyanese) leaving them to languish on the breadline. The closed sugar estates of which the workers constituted the hub of economic activities, had become economic dead zones.

One must not forget that the PNCR coalition also fired 1,972 Amerindian CSO workers, who served in the most impoverished hinterland regions of the country (where the poverty level is 75%). Not to mention hundreds of government workers (Indo-Guyanese and others thought to be sympathetic to the PPPC) who were likewise fired.

Notwithstanding the plight of sugar workers, the PNCR coalition government proceeded to add 14,500 government jobs (thus increasing the government’s payroll by a massive 36% in 5 years). The overwhelming majority of new hires were Afro-Guyanese. The PPPC’s Minister of Local Government lamented on assuming office, for example, that many staff members of his ministry had been under-utilized, while some could not show any work output. 

The current PPPC government implements policies and programs to benefit all Guyanese irrespective of race, gender, and geography. The government, for example, has recently granted 6,000 online scholarships. The ethnic distribution is as follow: 39% to Afro-Guyanese, 40% to Indo-Guyanese, and 21% to Mixed and Amerindians. In addition, house lots totaling 5,926 have been allocated during the PPPC’s first year in office equitably among the ethnic groups. This is not to suggest that everything is perfect, and government must continue to address the pressing needs of the people. 

Could the PNCR become a formidable opposition instead of being fixated on making ridiculous claims and playing with people’s emotions rather than tapping into their reason? The dominant factor in voting preference has been ethnicity but this seems to be changing, though not rapidly with the rise in political consciousness. 

The Indo-Guyanese population is declining and the PPPC does not have a demographic advantage anymore. By 2025 the Indo-Guyanese population will drop to 34% due to emigration, mixed marriages, and lower fertility levels. The political battle-field could become extremely competitive. Ethnic based parties like the PPPC and PNCR must convince other ethnic groups of their vision and policies if they really want to win state power. Spewing incendiary rhetoric and distortions will not help any political party. 

Read More Articles From Dr. Tara Singh