The Welsh politician Aneurin Bevan, the British Labour Party giant who introduced the National Health Service in 1948, coined the phrase, “politics is a blood sport” more than a century ago. Little has happened to change that spectacle in the hyper-information 21st century.
It’s an arena where spectators can cheer on their chosen ones like the Romans did their preferred gladiators in the Colosseum while at the same time blindly scorning and damning perceived opponents – the proverbial Christians – who are thrown to lions. These zero-sum games are often driven to the point of folly, never mind that the vast majority are merely on a quest for a better life. Nonetheless, they will be trampled upon and usually remain poorer off in the long run.
For almost four months now, Guyana has been in the centre of the regional and international arena – for all the wrong reasons since its March 2 elections.
The results were steeped in controversy and the yarn of delays, recounts and court hearings continues up to this very moment.
In the latest twist, Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield submitted to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) what he claims to be a report of the “valid and credible votes” cast at the polls with the numbers showing a victory for the incumbent APNU+AFC. But first, he invalidated almost a quarter of the votes cast – 115,000
The report, which was intended to lead to the declaration of a final result, has since been put on hold by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the final court of appeal.
The CCJ will now interpret the Guyanese constitution’s meaning of “votes cast”.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, in her waning days as CARICOM Chairman, expressed concern about the latest developments. She stressed that the will of the Guyanese people must prevail as reflected by the recount which was monitored by a CARICOM Observer Team that was approved by the disputing main political parties, lest some forget.
Mottley, who called out the “gamesmanship” unfolding went on to question “on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate one vote, far less over 115,000 votes when the votes were already certified as valid by officers of the Guyana Elections Commission in the presence of the political parties?”
Since then her comments have drawn a barrage of responses — from the sanguine to the idiotic. Guyanese politics, [polarised as it is with a heavily racial tinge will do that. Aside from the asinine personal attacks on the CARICOM Chairman, there have even been more dangerous suggestions that CARICOM has no right to interfere in Guyana’s domestic politics and that Georgetown – the seat of the CARICOM Secretariat – can stand on its own without CARICOM.
We heard similar drivel earlier from critics when incoming Chairman Dr Ralph Gonsalves made it clear that CARICOM would not stand idly and watch an election being stolen.
In fact, throughout this weary process, there has been the tendency of some, particularly coming from members of the APNU/AFC coalition to mount personal attacks on regional and international figures rather than confront glaring issues at hand.
These unnecessary retorts do little to clean up the tarnished image of the APNU/AFC. It is all the more ironic given that the APNU, successor to the People’s National Congress which was founded by Forbes Burnham who, together with the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, Eric Williams and Michael Manley, was present at the creation of our community of nations and common market in 1973.
CARICOM has every right to take a position grounded in the principles of democracy in the domestic affairs of any member state, and most certainly in the country where the headquarters of its secretariat resides. It is clearly outlined in both the revised CARICOM Treaty and the Charter of Civil Society.
No institution or citizen who claims to have the interests of Guyana at heart can allow Guyana, long divided by race and ethnicity, to remain mired in the morass when great things await a nation on the cusp of becoming one of the world’s oil producers?
All interests in Guyana can opt to treat politics like a blood sport or do the hard work of letting go of self-interests and pave the way for a Government duly chosen by the electorate. An honest administration must declare that it will work for the good of the whole and not just some based on connections, wealth or race.
Guyana is in the middle of the Colosseum. And it is high noon.
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