US Based Guyanese and political activist residing in New York, Rickford Burke, has issued a strong statement calling on the “incompetent” APNU/AFC opposition to “reengineer” itself with new leaders of all races and ethnicities. Burke also ventured to say that former President Granger during his term in office “did not understand politics or governance,” and suggested that this and other factors contributed to the demise of the coalition government.
But Burke is hopeful that the opposition can regroup, reorganize, and give the PPP/C government a challenging race to the finish line come 2025. The following text was posted on Rickford Burke’s Facebook Page around April 20th, 2023.
Full Statement by Rickford Burke
I have long contended that the APNU-AFC Coalition which ascended into office in 2015, led by President David Granger who, as a political leader, did not understand politics nor governance. The administration, while registering successes in advancing Guyana’s development, gravely neglected its political constituents, and its leadership had an idiosyncratic, opaque prospective on engendering modern development. This reality existed because of a paucity of young, brilliant, visionaries.
They did not understand or appreciate that a political party’s field machinery fuels the people’s movement that sustains governmental power and that it is necessary for a government to be undergirded by its party philosophy, policies, and vision to take a nation from where it is to where its needs to be along its development journey. Worst, they governed with a pertinacious disdain for counsel and guidance.
Although they are now in the opposition, nothing has changed. From 2015 to now, the PNCR and the APNU political leadership has been characterized by a lack of vision, obduracy, petty squabbles, incompetence, misplaced self-righteousness, naivety, vindictiveness, laziness, political malpractice, an abject lack of strategic thinking, and alienation from the people. They learnt nothing from their ouster from government.
Most of the current opposition Members of Parliament, Mayors, Regional Chairmen and Vice Chairman are divorced from the people they serve. Moreover, the party, especially under the leadership of David Granger alienated young professionals and the youth population generally. They show no loyalty to their supporters and stalwarts. They are decidedly politically suicidal and too comfortable in a morass of incompetence and political malpractice.
The party is persistently bedeviled by a destructive obsession with party longevity – the “he just come” syndrome, rather than gravitate to and reward loyalty, qualification, ability, competence, and winnability. This myopia, this infectious, mortal malady, is leading the party to political vanquishment. In politics you make strategic decisions to win. The PNCR is the only political party I know that resists transformation to stay relevant and competitive and dogmatically engages, no matter how moribund its politics have become.
Add to the disastrous equation the perpetual infighting and tribalism that paralyzes and diminishes their ability to provide constituents with adequate representation. The resulting neglect and dereliction subject their supporters to an unrelenting, brutal assault from the racist regime.
Rather than work to expand the APNU Coalition by bringing new groups of young people, women, and other civil society and community organizations into the coalition, to build a formidable political organization, they are perceived to be shrinking their coalition.
Guyana is an oil producing nation. Its people cannot, and must not, endure the suffering of a weak opposition, while also fighting a racist, tyrannical anti-democratic government. Therefore, the status quo cannot remain the same. We the people – the opposition supporters – must force the PNCR and the entire opposition to change.
Their catastrophic failures and unprecedented incompetence must be called out. Their disengagement with the people must end. Their political paralysis must end. Their obsession with rewarding longevity and factionalism must be halted.
All of these appalling challenges are further magnified by a less than inspiring leadership team, which the last PNCR Congress chose to elect. Therefore the congress bears full responsibility for abysmal failures in the leadership at all levels. Some of the choices made by the Congress, followed by similar reckless selections by party regional conferences have equally contributed to the disarray and ineptitude that now plagues the party. Further, it is apparent that the Central Executive has fallen victim to a cult of personality and has abdicated its constitutional duty to provide leadership and guidance to the party.
At this juncture, no one is oblivious to the fact that the PNCR needs new leaders throughout the organization. Even Party Leader, Mr. Aubrey Norton, knows this. Hence, there must be drastic change in leadership, strategy and vision, if the PNCR is to remain a great party that is politically viable.
Party leaders at the regional levels also contribute to this paralysis and incompetence. Because they are incompetent, the party’s national leadership will suffer from their subatomic plague of ineptitude and disorganization. The recent rush to implement interim management committees reflects the lack of foresight and dysfunction described above.
There must be a change in the Party, at all levels of leadership. The party must abandon the ridiculous custom of selecting persons for office on the basis of longevity and blind loyalty to a person, rather than loyalty to the party. We need visionaries who can espouse policies and a vision to develop Guyana which is superior to the PPP’s mediocre, ad hoc governance.
Now is the time for the entire opposition to reengineer itself and select leaders that can inspire our youth, seniors, men and women of all races and ethnicities, and build a new movement to deliver Guyana once again from the PPP. WE must reject the existing state of affairs. Let the recruitment of young, bright visionaries begin.