Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ubiquitous conspicuity of elected dictatorship

Kaieteur News Freddie Kissoon column, Thursday 12 February 2009

Ubiquitous conspicuity of elected dictatorship
February 12, 2009 | By knews |
Filed Under Features / Columnists
, Freddie

By now, most readers would know that I have accepted the theorizing of the
nature of post-perestroika countries by Fareed Zakaria. Professor Zakaria
rose to fame in the scholarly world when he theorized that free and fair
election in a country does not necessarily lead to the concretization of
On the contrary, he adumbrates a scenario where the winner of elections can
in fact turn back the clock. Instead of using their legal mandate to ensure
greater freedom, the rulers create an authoritarian structure that subtracts
from the flow of democracy. If Zakaria can classify Antigua as partially
democratic, what would he discover if he comes to Guyana?
The two countries that have lent credibility to Zakaria's paradigm are
Guyana and Russia. These are two countries where authoritarian structures
have endured for a long time. In Russia for over two hundred years.
In Guyana, since colonial times and all of the post-colonial period right up
to Mr. Jagdeo in February 2009. In both countries, one does not even see a
slight movement towards less centralized authority or a thin layer of
accountability developing.
It is much too early to predict what will happen in Russia where Putin looks
stronger than ever.
In Guyana, a ragged, jagged, faded, disunited, non-visionary opposition
umbrella does not know where the overdrive button is and we are just two
years away from a national poll. A PPP victory is likely if an Obama-like
ambience does not evolve between now and October 2010. The trouble with
modern man and woman is that give them ultra-modern comfort and they become
oblivious to dictatorship. People want a wealthy country that can make their
future secure.
Russia's economy is doing brilliantly. Putin takes advantage of this. In
Guyana, Mr. Jagdeo is literally millions of years behind Putin because we
are dirt poor.
His party can be routed if the combined opposition could architecture an
Obama-like landscape that can inspire the rural folks and the Amerindians.
One must remember that in 2011 the PPP will not have the kind of money Putin
has. The PPP will have nothing to show except the pathology of race-baiting
which is their trump card.
Whether elected dictatorship falls in 2011 or is reinvigorated by another
PPP victory solely depends on the opposition parties, civil society, the
human rights community and the free, private media. There can be no doubt
that there has been a rapid degeneration of the chemistry of elected
dictatorship since the last general election.
Perhaps the best term to describe the situation is a runaway train. One
cannot point to a single item of inspiration on the political front that is
a significant and substantial departure from the old PNC/PPP style of
authoritarian arrogance. It gets worse with every passing moment (not day,
but moment).
One is inclined to the perception that things have fallen apart and maybe
soon the PPP's state machinery may implode. There is no pause. There is no
respite. There is no moment of lull. Mr. Jagdeo just keeps riding a train
that is out of control. Begin to name it and your essay ends up in volumes.
Where to start? The rejection of the Freedom of Information Act? Or the
betrayal of the consensus covenant after Lusignan and Bartica? Or the
de-recognition of the TUC and the elevation of FITUG? Forget about where to
start and let us look at what happened this week. A man or a woman (or
thing) has violated the city's by-laws by attempting to build an
entertainment centre in the heart of Subryanville.
No one can ascertain the name of the builder because a governmental entity,
the Central Housing & Planning Authority, refuses to supply an identity. It
was the City Council that told us that there is still a spot of democracy
left in Guyana when it named the investor.
Every citizen should reflect on this secrecy of dictatorship and how this
type of government has crept up on us. If you had a City Council controlled
by the ruling party and the City Council bureaucracy earned its income from
a PPP-controlled treasury, that name would have ended up in the conspiracy
hall of the ruling party just as what happened with the Italian family that
was building the Hotel complex by Fort Groyne in Kingston.
Once the rulers dominate every sphere of society, dictatorship is
inevitable. Think of the deeper miasma this country would have been swimming
in if there weren't private media houses. And to think PPP stalwart Hydar
Ally wrote last week that the PNC should apologize to this nation over its
misrule. Indeed, the signs of elected dictatorship are all around.

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