Two elections, one Mashramani?

Frankly Speaking...
by A.A. Fenty
Stabroek News
November 19, 1999

Quickly, it's another Friday. Again it's time for me to agonise: do I comment on all the same "issues" that other knowledgeables are dealing with in the media? What (fresh or different) approach should I employ? To interest my fans and foes? It is tougher than you think. But then came the consistent, intense and indefatigable Rupert Roopnaraine - WPA/AFG Leader and occasional candidate for President.

Last Sunday on a favourite television opportunity, Dr Roopnaraine was most genuine in his concern that, given the Herdmanston deadlines, the Principal Political Players (PPP), the powers - that-be could be faced with three election exercises; in short a pre-occupation with electoral activity that could be both politically unhealthy and absolutely unaffordable.

He was, of course, referring to the possible need to hold (1) the oft-postponed Local Government Elections, (2) Referenda to change certain entrenched clauses in the present constitution and (3) General/Regional elections that Herdmanston made the PPP/Civic agree to, thus lopping off two years of a normal five-year term. Roopnaraine doubted our ability to pull off all those elections, doubted that donor-nations would be given to funding them, and doubted that the international investor-community would pay heed to a country pre-occupied with elections with all their political uncertainties and insecurities.

I appreciated the Doctor's concerns. And though I've consistently recognised his Party as the grouping that advocated Constitutional Reform, long before the present pretenders, I harbour two small concerns: The WPA should be more forthright in pin-pointing the villains of the piece/peace. Even if the PPP procrastinates now, the WPA knows who stymied the process in the first place. Secondly, the good doctor should also denounce, in good time, any anticipated national dysfunction he anticipated the PNC would engineer - under any guise.

Suppose the PPP/Civic is sympathetic of a Roopnaraine-type "Transitional National Government" between 2001 and 2002, how would the WPA go about persuading Mr Hoyte about that? Whatever the Learned Judge finds and whatever Herdmanston dictates? I'll find it difficult to believe that the WPA wishes to piggy-back on the PNC's crusades of protest. Instead I'll support the WPA's call for the implementation of the All-Party Parliamentary/Standing Committees.

Actually, I feel that the Parties in Parliament have the capacity to guide the Constitutional Reform entities to forego the now- necessary Referenda and to freeze Local Government Elections and to allow for about three to six "extra" months to prepare for proper elections. Which Prime Minister Anthony and PNC-Caricom friends must assist with, this time around. Let Caricom and the world stay to train and observe keenly, our next elections. I still retain a modicum of regard for the WPA think-tank. They won't win any polls. But they must monitor the political mischief and head it off. And name the villains it finds - honestly.

Mashramani ideas

I'm more certain of next week's main big lime than of next year's Mash. I merely wish to point out that now is the time to activate a Republic Celebrations Action Secretariat - now is the time to mobilise overseas resources. Now is the time to take Mashramani orders for genuine Mash Camps. Now is the time to ready government agencies for participation. Now is the time to write Shantos and Road Marches. Now is the time to create ads and promos. Now is the time to begin to execute Mash 2000 ideas.

But no! never! We are not a people like that. It's one national event at a time. "We doan have de money." Actually we don't have the will!

And though I'm hurt and upset with the Culture Ministry, for my own reasons, let me articulate VIC's suggestion from last year - when it was still-born.

Even as I hope for one Mash next February, could not the government subsidise or ask airlines to grant return tickets to about six famous Guyanese entertainers of yesteryear. Like Johnny Braff, Ted E. Jones, Clement Durjohn, King Fighter, Hilton Hemerding, Lady Guymine, Pamela Maynard, Mickey Dee, Jimmy Ray, Phil Dino, etc. etc.

Guest houses and hotels will grant then accommodation for one Mashramani Week. They would then appear at Grand Peace and Progress concerts for Mash. Free or reduced rentals for grounds and halls, after booked-up hours. All for Guyana! Guyanese First. Caribbean Guests afterwards. Is this proposal beyond us? If the planners start now? (I know you're reading this on the Internet. Let's make it work!)

I'm jaded, but ...

1) But I can still fantasise. Suppose there was no US market for cocaine or marijuana? Colombia and local cartels would crash! Some economies would be affected. And at home here, there might not be that new store; that new business; that new exhibition space; that new sponsorship. Oh my!

2) Today they celebrate the young President's 100 days. Hope he never facilitates a Jim Jones-Jonestown opportunity.

3) Is it true? Corrupt practices at the Suddie hospital? Let me know!

4) Mr Hoyte served seven years ('85-'92). The Civic is limited to three years. Beautiful Bullyism! (But same results. Whenever.)

5) I begin to recognise Christmas Celebrations from today - this column and the Cook-up show.

6) Heard!? The US and Brazil have signed a Defence Pact! Are we next!?

7) Don't pander to political lewdness - All you comrade-leaders

8) Shouldn't UG students dissect and study Rex Nettleford's address?

9) One of the good tributes to Malcolm Marshall - from Lance Kluesner, Jonty Rhodes and Shawn Pollock. Three South Africans who learnt from him. How to cut our tails!

10) Remember the "reason for the season". Enjoy the cook-up show?

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