Guyana Chronicle March 26, 2017

IF DR WALTER Rodney were alive, he would have been 75 years old this past week. Some people have been asking me to comment on the status of the Walter Rodney CoI, which was debated in the National Assembly last August. Some wanted to know why the WPA has not been making noise about the failure of the government to act on the findings.
I think as far as the government is concerned, the Rodney matter is closed. When the report of the Commission of Inquiry was debated in the National Assembly, the majority voted to “acknowledge” it and “take measures to examine the findings and recommendations herein in order to ascertain whether any and if so, which are acceptable and implementable.” The PPP’s original motion wanted the Assembly to adopt rather than merely acknowledge the findings of the report.
I suppose acknowledging rather than adopting the findings places less burden on the government to act on them. One therefore must ask whether after seven months the authorities have not found any of the findings and recommendations implementable.
I, personally, am not hopeful that there would be any movement in that direction. The entire thing is too tied up with partisan politics. From the beginning, the PPP treated the matter as a political football aimed at scoring points against the PNC. Not surprisingly, the PNC’s response was equally partisan. The new government, dominated as it is by the PNC’s faction, continued the PNC’s line that the inquiry was flawed and halted it prematurely.
WalterIn the circumstances the WPA’s hands are tied; there is not much we can do as a party. From the beginning the party was marginalised from the process—we were never consulted. The PPP claimed that this was Mrs Rodney’s request, even though there seems to be some confusion regarding the truthfulness of that claim. But as WPA’s Eusi Kwayana pointed out, even if such a request had been made, that should not have prevented President Ramotar from consulting the WPA and others. The WPA took the position that the government’s failure to consult important stakeholders renders the CoI partisan, but did not object to its members participating.
The WPA is part of the present government and I suppose in normal circumstances it is not unreasonable to expect the party to pressure its colleagues to do more regarding the findings. But, the truth is that we have little if any leverage within the government. We have always been and continue to be committed to justice for our assassinated brother. We continue to believe that Walter Rodney’s assassination was planned and executed because of his political activity and with the full knowledge of leading officials of the then government and the State. Insofar as the CoI establishes that, we embrace it.
I do not think that the recommendations of the CoI are unreasonable. They include calls for the professionalisation of the police force and the army, so as to avoid future assassinations. In fact, since the Rodney assassination, there were several others which occurred under the PPP’s watch and in which members of the police force were prime suspects. The other recommendations had to do with free and fair elections and working to heal the ethnic divide.
The WPA is not opposed to such reforms and I would be surprised if the other parties in the coalition are opposed to them. But the sticking point is the findings. The PNC would never accept any finding that implicates it founder-leader. The AFC has never been an interested party on this matter and would not oppose its larger colleague’s stance.
It’s unfortunate that the CoI has been mired in partisan politics; once that happened, it puts us in a no-win situation. As a party, we certainly didn’t want to be party to the PPP’s game. But we also didn’t and don’t want to be party to the PNC’s disregard for what happened.
My own view is that the whole Rodney affair, like other important incidents in our political history, is the victim of our precarious political environment. It would take tremendous maturity on the part of the PPP and PNC to allow for more freedom to deal with the unfortunate moments in our political journey. We are not there yet.
For me, the primary task for us who are believers in the Rodney way is to ensure that his contributions both at the levels of ideas and practice are put to work in the process of ensuring that Guyana remains a livable place that is hospitable to the best in humanity. I continue to believe that Rodney is essential to unleashing the most noble aspects of our collective humanity, but we have to unshackle him from our dirty politics.
I recently met a young Tanzanian journalist who told me that she read and studied Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” while she was in high school. Just think if our high school students can be similarly exposed, what that can do for their intellectual development and for the quality of knowledge construction in Guyana.
Today we grapple with Social Cohesion, but Walter Rodney and his ideas, which dealt a lot with our common Guyanese-ness is not part of the discourse. I doubt that those in charge of Social Cohesion ever read a paragraph by Rodney; hence, the lack of appreciation for his value in that regard. We continue to self-destruct.
More of Dr. Hinds ‘writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website Send comments to