A vital part of the solution is to raise the level of education

Stabroek News
June 12, 2001

Dear Editor,

I have read the eloquent arguments for this economic, social, political, and racial panacea that will propel Guyana to all levels of development and yet I am still puzzled as to what is meant by "Power Sharing".

With all the talk, I am still awaiting the model. If we are to scrap the Westminster model, which by the way has not existed in Guyana since independence, what is the replacement? (Westminster Model does not exist under a dictatorship.) I also have not heard any calls for the Socialist Model of which there were a myriad of believers in Guyana before the fall of Communism. Are those socialist advocates now matured capitalists and will Power Sharing suffer the same fate as Communism? Also, Guyana should be allowed to mix and match any or all political models deemed fit to suit its purpose.

I have respect for the writings of Mr. Hinds, Mr. Phillips, and others who are advocating, so vehemently, for this model of government, but I must disagree that this model, when scrutinized, will be deemed able to contribute and alleviate that which ails Guyana.

Every rational thinking Guyanese knows what is wrong with Guyana, the problem is, acceptable remedial solutions are elusive. However, Power Sharing is not a solution, for any astute politician who successfully ventured into the electoral process will never agree to such an expedition. If the "shoe was on the other foot" the incumbent party would never contemplate agreeing to Power Sharing.

Firstly, the Afro-Guyanese is told that he is marginalized and since his "involuntary" affiliated political party has lost the elections he must now seek to Power Share with his opposition. These buzz words "Marginalized and Power Share" are nothing more than intellectual gymnastics with ambiguous and divergent meanings.

People, whether they are Black or White, have always felt powerless and economically deprived when they don't have money and or power. Mr. Hinds said it best, and to paraphrase, the Blackman must seek his own solution and stop blaming others for his plight.

Power Sharing, irrespective of how equitably it is allocated, will result in bottlenecks, turtle like decision making and more importantly, a lack of accountability. To have a modicum of success Power Sharing in Guyana would have to encompass numerous committees, due to political mistrust, and will severely restrict the free flow of political and managerial initiatives. The cadence of necessary information and inner-workings of committees will be hampered by political ambition and affiliation.

Secondly, who will be accountable for any failures. Power Sharing will create a "cut throat" environment that will mask many inept practices without manifesting those responsible. There cannot be the smooth functioning of government especially in a Power Sharing environment without knowing, before hand, where and to whom the responsibility and accountability rest.

Thirdly, the Ministry of Health, is of more immediate importance during a plague than the Ministry of say Land and Mines and Development. Consequently, agreeable distribution and allocation of important ministries to one's political adversary will be extremely difficult to achieve. Power Sharing will not eliminate political disdain and mistrust.

Guyana's problems are numerous and made complex because of different racial agenda. The national agenda has not been clearly defined and Power Sharing will only add to the finger pointing and the circumvention of efforts by those who would accept failure. These problems are built into the educational system that may be the key to the solution.

We are programmed to think that if you are not "bright" as a child you are an academic failure, and as a result, there are large numbers of high school dropouts not realizing their potential. The educational system does not cater to the slow learner whose pattern of learning accelerates as he/she grows older and becomes more focused. Consequently, Guy-ana has a very large proportion of its citizens who are still functionally illiterate and easily manipulated along racial lines for political gains. This issue must be addressed, for it leads to a lack of conceptualizing of political issues that may be viewed along racial lines. It leads to the lack of demand on the political establishment to clearly state their proposals of how they intend to develop Guyana and by what means. This lack contributes to the current racial voting patterns of the Guyanese public. It also adds fodder for the political establishment to cloud or misrepresent the nationally important issues.

Therefore, to call for Power Sharing is to apply a band aid to a gaping wound that really needs suturing.

This is not to imply that the majority of the Guyanese people are uneducated, far from it, they are knowledgeable, and trustworthy people, and their trust in the establishment is being abused along racial lines.

Raising the level of education will go far to eliminate racial insensitivity, create voting patterns that cross racial lines, minimize the need for racially homogeneous neighbourhoods, restore faith and confidence that those who are elected to national office will adhere to the wishes and needs of a Guyana that is whole and rid the call for Power Sharing and ethnic policing.

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Barker