Campaign for leadership of PNC is a matter of public interest
Stabroek News
April 3, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Twice over the Easter weekend I've heard from right thinking Guyanese that the putative (and well signaled) change of leadership for the People's National Congress is 'nobody's business but theirs'. I beg to firmly disagree.

All political parties are, in essence, electoral machines designed to deliver votes and candidates for national and local elections. That is their raison d'etre. Without political power to scrap over, there would be no need for competing parties. The winner takes the spoils or, in Guyana's case, takes and sometimes shares the spoils. They, the governing party determine life, liberty and opportunity for their period in office. And Beyond!

That's why it's not a private matter who succeeds Hugh Desmond Hoyte. It is firmly in all of our interests to be informed and, if party members, to be intimately involved in the succession process. It is all of our business.

The chosen one could be the next President or at least the next PNC/R candidate for presidency. It could be their finger on the trigger of development in Guyana. So, let's be mature and act as democrats on this.

There needs to be declaration of candidatures so that the members and the public know who the runners and the riders are and their current and past form. There's a phoney war going on at the moment where candidates and their supporters are whispering-some not too softly- their man (or woman's) platform. Come out of the shadows, make it a competition of ideas and visions for the party. If you ain't got a vision then who knows where you're going.

So, step one, let Dessie announce he's 'off to the cricket' for more than an afternoon and let the boys come clean. Fire the starting gun.

Step two: The media should rise to their democratic task. Let's see profiles of leaders manqué (warts and all), let's see far reaching interviews with them with hard questions asked(Jeremy Paxman, the doyen of British TV interviewers, won a Brittelly Oscar for asking the then Home Affairs Minister Michael Howard the same question fourteen times until he got an answer. Persistence paid).

Let's have the process of the choice, the mechanics of the leadership election, exposed to scrutiny and analysis on TV and in the printed press (Time for those watchdogs of liberty to do some barking).

Nobody is saying the media should choose the next PNC/R leader. That is not their job. Their task is to inform and educate the micro and macro electorates who will choose the leader. If they do not do that, then it is down to open and closed cabals, taps on shoulders, the reading of Dessie's mind and the tea-leaves; in short down to anti democracy.

So, to misquote Chairman Mao, let the battle for the new leader start. Let a hundred (or at least five) flowers bloom. The delicate democratic plant in the PNC/R and in Guyana will be much stronger for that.

It's no private matter. It's far too important for that.

Yours faithfully,

John Mair