PNC/R and politics of 'adjustment' Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
August 25, 2002

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IN TERMS of "real politick", the re-election of Mr. Desmond Hoyte as leader of the People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) was a non-event.

It was so very predictable to anyone familiar with the workings of that party, and particularly when it became abundantly clear that his two potential challengers, Vincent Alexander and Raphael Trotman, had no serious intention of going through with the contest.

Our congratulations, nevertheless, to Mr. Hoyte who should not be expected either to give up the party's leadership by his 73rd birthday in March next year, as he himself had earlier indicated. He is really under no pressure to do so.

If there is indeed anything surprising coming out of the elections for office bearers at the party's 13th Biennial Congress, it was the return to the Central Executive of Aubrey Norton, a former Hoyte appointee as General Secretary with whom he has had open conflicts.

The current holder of that post is Mr. Oscar Clarke. In Caribbean Community politics, the PNC/R stands unique in its General Secretary, once a very influential and elected office, being reduced to an appointee at the pleasure of the party's leader.

More importantly, however, is what should the country expect in terms of new initiatives from the PNC/R with the conclusion of its congress where Mr. Hoyte chose to make a most interesting gesture on the important issue of governance.

In contrast to the rigid, some may say arrogant position held prior to the congress, and in contrast to the stance of even some leading party colleagues, Mr. Hoyte spoke in terms of the need for an "adjusted system of governance".

Clarity may come later, but he told the delegates and observers: "An adjusted system of governance for our country -- whether we call it 'power-sharing', 'shared governance' or any other name, appears to be an idea whose time has come..."

Well, as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or, to put it differently, action speaks louder than words. The country is accustomed to rhetoric about "democracy", "unity", and "good governance" that so often flow from PNC/R spokespersons themselves.

It is to be assumed that Mr. Hoyte will advance his "adjusted governance" concept from rhetoric to action by communicating with the governing party on how best such an idea could be pursued.

Or, he could put forward his ideas at a resumed dialogue with President Bharrat Jagdeo. It would then be for the PPP/Civic administration to treat seriously with such an initiative. In practical terms there is really nothing for the governing party or President Jagdeo to respond to.

What is urgently needed is positive action, not the traditional posturings while the nation bleeds from the acts of criminals on a rampage across this land.

The PNC's own record in government for 28 long years could itself be justifiably cited as an indictment of its refusal to give any encouragement to meaningful "inclusiveness". It certainly had nothing to do with power-sharing.

Yet, there are good reasons to welcome the new approach by Mr. Hoyte even in talking about 'shared' or 'inclusive governance'.

For a start, as this newspaper had previously suggested, the PNC/R can show good faith to its own electoral base and the country at large by returning to Parliament and help in fostering a climate conducive to the politics of inclusion and shared governance, the modalities of which would obviously have to be carefully worked out by the interested parties.

Secondly, there should be a resumption of the high-level dialogue between President Jagdeo and Mr. Hoyte, suspended months ago by the PNC/R leader.

If, as the main parliamentary opposition, the PNC/R insists on boycotting parliament and is yet to disavow its earlier declaration to make Guyana "ungovernable" -- a position being exploited by criminal and terroristic elements -- then, in our thinking, it would be extremely difficult to inspire hope for any "adjusted system of governance".

In the absence of either an end to the boycott of Parliament, or a resumption of the Jagdeo-Hoyte dialogue, even the more well meaning elements in both the PNC/R and the governing PPP/C would remain skeptical about Mr. Hoyte's talk of an "adjusted system of governance". The PPP/C must be as flexible as ever. But it is appreciated that one hand can't clap.

The PNC/R had the opportunity just last week to demonstrate good faith at another leve l-- participation in the first of a series of national consultations on the alarming escalation in murders, armed robberies and criminal violence.

It chose, instead, to have a mere token "observer" presence. That would have come as a big surprise, if not shock to those who may have taken seriously the PNC/R's earlier call for a national approach to deal with the crime situation.

In contrast, representatives of other opposition parties and civil society groups that have been expressing their deep concerns over the brazen and rampant criminal activities, participated in the consultation, the structure and procedures for which may have to improve for the future.

There is still time for the PNC/R to do some "adjusting" of its own in relation to participation in Parliament, resumption of the Jagdeo-Hoyte dialogue and for active involvement in helping in the battle against criminals.

And, of course, 'adjust' itself to explaining to the public precisely what it has in mind when its leader spoke about an "adjusted system of governance".