May 15, 2019  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

The APNU+AFC entity has achieved 4 years in power in recent days. Analysts, commentators and political observers in assessing those years have

made an almost forgivable methodological lapse. You cannot compare the contents of a 23-year-old regime with those of a four-year-old formation. It is not possible conceptually.
For example, in those 23 years, the regime would have achieved a certain latitude because of its constant oppression that made it more inclined to do unpalatable things. Simple put; there would be more violations under bad governance that lasted 23 years than under an entity that is just four years old.
Two useful perspectives that would yield more insightful evaluations include the use of context. First, situate the four years of APNU+AFC in the context of the kind of society it met when it came to power.
The second framework would be to compare the first four years of APNU+AFC with some of the previous governments since Independence – Burnham -1966-1970; Cheddi Jagan 1992-1996; Desmond Hoyte 1985-1989; Bharrat Jagdeo 1999-2002; Ramotar 2011-2015.
Let us examine the first approach, that is, context. The APNU+AFC administration has proven to be a very undemocratic regime with huge potential for oppressive behavior in its four years of existence. In the context of what Guyana went through under Jagdeo and Ramotar and the rising levels of emotional ejection by the citizenry for the following – race discrimination, bad governance, irresponsible government, secret negotiations, police insensitivity, ministerial misconduct, opaque and reckless governance etc. – the APNU+AFC was extraordinarily courageous and barefaced to engage in such perverted use of power after 2015.
In other words, because of the prodigious levels of expectations after 2015 of good governance and modest caring leadership, it was just natural for Guyana to have one of its better governments since self-rule was restored in 1957. This was not to be and in the context of these expectations, one could easily classify the APNU+AFC regime as perhaps having the worst four-year-old record of any past administration.
It was unthinkable for any citizen to envisage a post-2015 administration that would do things that Guyanese hated the PPP for. Just weeks after possessing power, the rulers gave themselves a whopping salary increase. What made it morbid were the surreptitious circumstances that accompanied the payout.
Secondly, even if the sugar industry had gone past its life, there was no way you could close down a vital industry and not plan for two things; giving workers what financial sums they were legally entitled to and searching desperately for alternative employment for them. One year into its rule, the APNU+AFC did none of the two.
Compare this with the electricity hike in Linden in 2012 when protest led the PPP leadership to back down.
There were incredible items in successive budgets that made the APNU+AFC an unelected regime. New taxes went up that did not benefit the majority of the working classes. Taxes were increased on things that made people feel that the old saying is right – “whom the gods wish to destroy they first made mad”.
For me the tax on animal drawn vehicles was sick. I could never vote back for such politicians.
If one was living on another planet and heard that the government in Guyana in 2018 was imposing an arbitration chairman on a striking union and it was a chairman employed by the state, that person would have exclaimed; “Oh my God, the PPP is still in power.”
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Such cruel use of power caused people to hate the Jagdeo/Ramotar cabals. The alternative to the PPP got into power and used the same big stick in trying to settle union disputes.
For me, it is flawed framework to compare 23 years of PPP rule with four years of APNU+AFC authority and declare that there were no dismissals, torture, victimization etc. The PPP did those things in 23 years. The indications after four years of the APNU+AFC are colossal signs on the face of this nation that if given 23 years they will engage in those very things that analysts and commentators said are missing since 2015.
The signs of authoritarian directions are there. They have been there since day one. One’s analysis of the contents of the four years of ANPU+AFC tenure depends on your political perspective and the methodology you use to research those four years.
My analysis cannot give credit to the APNU+AFC for not jailing, killing and victimizing critics and anti-government activists. The habits are there waiting to come out. Give them 23 years and they will come out. Power does that you know.