Circumstances change political minds

07-12-2018 03:12

– Guardedly thanking Comrade Chairperson Volda

Just imagine me! I’m being briefly but heavily political today. Is it my old “Kitty PNC Comrade Fenty” persona kicking in? Or just politics-derived mischief? Whatever. Here goes.

I’ve matured enough to appreciate that persons have a right to change their old views, long-held considered opinions, when and if they find good reason to do so. Especially after intense and “righteous” self-analysis. I’ve also been intrigued by the metamorphoses of certain local veteran career politicians.  Of course, Guyana’s two major political behemoths the fifties-born PPP and PNC were the ones to experience the most surprising sudden, sometimes dramatic crossovers.

Circumstances, prevailing or changing, influence these “mind-changes”. But what are some of these “circumstances” which influence former loyal comrades to change minds? And parties? What motivates new allegiances? Frankly Speaking, that list may include a genuine discovery/realization that the leader party or group had changed significantly from the ideals, policies, even ideology which had prompted the follower to join and believe in the first place; frustration at not being involved, listened to or considered worthy; leadership turned selfish, arrogant, autocratic; the options offered by a new or another entity; or just crass opportunistic ambition to move on where the grass of status or achievement looks greener.

I’ve wondered when I was a supporter/member of the PNC, about how committed to service of the followers, the poor people, were certain middle-level and hierarchical “leaders.” Too many in political groups which enjoy power or authority tend to vie for positions of self-aggrandisement  so to wield influence and enjoy benefits for self, family, friends. “Service” is just then, a means to an end.

On the local political scene, since I became politically conscious in my late teens, I found “crossovers” who professed strong ideological beliefs to be the more interesting of those who change their minds and parties. Let me “drop a few names.”


No turncoat, just (principled) defector

Yes, not every politician who changes sides should be thought of as turncoat or traitor. Comrades of integrity and principles might plead a moral duty to pursue causes elsewhere. And strong alternative leaders can certainly influence topmost members to change sides. Forbes Burnham seemed to be a master at the game.

Cheddi Jagan lost a number of his once faithful to Forbes. Recall PPP trade unionist Harry Lall, the up and coming Vincent Teekah – shot dead as a relatively new PNC convent; the two Majeeds – one once loyal to Cheddi later “advising” Burnham and now after decades, a “Granger ambassador”.

But one Burnham cross-over triumph was the Trinidad-born Ranji Chandisingh. He was Cheddi’s ideological guru. He was later to say that “Cheddi behaved as if he (Cheddi) had the patent for socialism”. (My wife one told me of first meeting comrade Ranji at an Afro–PPP home Atkinson Field (?) when he discussed PPP guns and ammunition; in later years he encountered her as a teacher when he was a PNC minister of higher education!) Ranji also became the PNC’s General Secretary! Oh that man Burnham…

But Forbes’ PNC experienced a few defectors (to Cheddi) too. I care to remember ideologue Henry Jeffrey. Phillip Bynoe of Linden, Odinga Lumumba who tried out three parties; good old PNC roots man Joe Hamilton and yes PNC boss himself Hammie Green. What an interesting veteran political dude was/is Hamilton. The PNC powerhouse was general secretary and long–time prime minister. But Forbes cunningly “side–stepped” him to make Desmond Hoyte a presidential successor.

Then, after Hoyte succumbed to Jimmy Carter, the British and Canadians, Hammie deserted his beloved PNC. Enter his own GGG – Good and Green Guyana outfit, which then catapulted him to be Mayor of Georgetown – with a golden neck chain – worn for nearly two decades.

I remember Hammie advising Hoyte and his party to cease the riotous city protests in early 1998. Said Hammie in part: “the PNC should accept the audit findings and sit down and find ways to help this (PPP) government govern the country properly”. Of course after Hoyte’s passing Hammie was to “Re-defect” back to his base. What defections do you recall? Moses? Trotman? (No!) Ramjattan? (Ho!)


Leave Volda alone? Well…

Because this feature is published on Fridays, many others beat me to it much earlier in the week. So as often, I can only endorse KN’s Adam Harris’ views on PNC “Chairman” Comrade Volda’s outbursts about “Wuck-only-for-PNC people and her grassroots PNC “analyses” about the local government elections and empowerment and the power politics “numbers game”.

Is she that “good” a politician? Naah… Robert Herman Orlando Corbin or Moses would never speak to comrades like that with mikes or phones on. That’s for more intimate bottom – house groundings with the comrades. Remember too she did try to “ups” her comrade “Boom out-Bing Bang” Broomes by apologizing to a guard allegedly wronged by the vibrant miner– minister. And recall also that Cde Chairperson Volda did describe as merely a “family matter” an allegation of sexual assault against one of her party’s city councillors.

My negative take on Cde Volda’s honest indiscretion relates to the Ram and McRae assertions. One, the constitution forbids discrimination for employment on political grounds as, loosely, do our labour laws (but what is not breached daily?) as the accounting firm wonders: which “types” will enjoy employment from her huge ministry allocations and will pre–2020 employment practices by the government be tainted by party/ethnic considerations?

I feel that my own tongue-in-cheek, backhanded compliment for honesty from madam chair person must never-the-less accommodate the implications and impact mentioned in the paragraph just above. One thing going for Comrade Volda however, is this: her heartfelt remarks have galvanized the two major respective tribes to adhere to their “own”. Til 2020! And beyond, I guess.


Let’s ponder…

It’s natural, expected that any worthwhile opposition would use Comrade Volda’s outpourings to gain points, right?

Toshao Shuman’s ”indigenous” party must have active offices in hinterland locations also.

Dr Jagdeo questions the $350M for the 2020 Republic Jubilee celebrations? “He aint hear nothing yet!”

In discussing the recent local elections and the rot at City Hall. Gabriel GHK Lall actually used a sentence: “forget the fancy phrases” okay!

I believe that Rahman Gajraj was a Georgetown Indo-mayor – or Lord Mayor, Hydar.

Will the Trinidadian-owned MovieTowne complex ever open?

Till next week!