Following the disclosure of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R)’s list of parliamentarians earlier this week, there was instant criticism after it was noted that members such as Volda Lawrence, Aubrey Norton, Christopher Jones, Amna Ally, and Basil Williams, were sidelined.
Even former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Vice President Carl B. Greenidge, who served the party for over 42 years, did not make the cut. With this in mind, Guyana Standard reached out to Greenidge, who was recently appointed by the PPP/C administration as Advisor on Borders, for his perspective on the backlash his party is facing regarding the process for selecting parliamentarians. Greenidge said that senior PNC/R members, both present and past, have contacted him with a number of concerns about the list.
Greenidge said that all were concerned about the selection process which seems to be shrouded in mystery. The PPP Advisor said, “How the selections were made they did not know. Apparently, the list was presented to the Central Executive which was convened for that sole purpose and has met for the second time since March 2 this year, notwithstanding the post-election problems and controversies.”
Greenidge added, “No discussion of consequence ensued nor were questions entertained. Whatever the criteria for selection, the list has generated a set of APNU Parliamentarians neither representative of the APNU or of the elected party executive. This is a situation never witnessed either by the PNC, PNC/R or the PPP since those Parties were established.”
Further to this, Greenidge said that persons with unblemished records have been omitted in favour of others who have been the subject of public criticism ranging from ethical issues to incompetence. Greenidge said too that neither the Biennial Congress nor the General Council of the Party have been convened in the longest while notwithstanding the election loss and the controversial and damaging legal and extra-Parliamentary activities undertaken by the leadership. Greenidge believes that the Party needs to review its options as regards the way forward so as to analyse the election loss and the wisdom of the post-election strategy.
As things stand, the official said that current decision-making arrangements leave a lot to be desired. “I don’t think this is what most members of the People’s National Congress/Reform want or that they expected of their leadership. It is astonishing that a matter so important should be handled in this way in defiance of the rules and the spirit of the constitution of the Party,” Greenidge stated.
Asked to say how he feels about not returning to Parliament, Greenidge said that this is a matter he intends to address on a subsequent occasion and a different forum. Further to this, he was questioned on whether he was simply staying with the PNC/R on the grounds of loyalty. In this regard, he said, “Loyalty is an asset on which leaders of an institution like the PNC and PPP have relied on heavily since their establishment but sometimes leaders take loyalty for granted. They can abuse it and also confuse general politeness towards leaders for stupidity.”
The former Parliamentarian added, “I still have an interest in politics and will serve the Party as long as it trods a path that is defensible and in the interest of the majority of its constituents and the country. I have been a member for over 42 years and I am not going to walk away just like that even though I see a prevailing intolerance of dissenting views internally and externally.”
Further to this, Greenidge disclosed that there are concerns about where the Party has arrived after March 2 last. Greenidge said that these need to be addressed “because we have suffered a great deal of damage as a consequence. There is a mechanism for airing members’ views and I trust that these invaluable mechanisms and fora still stand and will be used by the leadership of the Party and encouraged by the Executive in particular.”
When pressed to say if he believes that the party can make a comeback after it would have treated its members who have been in the trenches with scant regard and damaged its international reputation, the PNC/R member said, “Well it is a sensitive issue, I do not have a crystal ball. I will be sharing my reflections on these questions but my view is that the Party’s future depends on how exactly, if at all, the membership holds the leadership to account.”
Greenidge said that already, the APNU, a big tent or political umbrella, has been irreparably damaged. He said that only two small parties remain with the PNC and no one knows for how long. Additionally, the former Minister said that the team in Parliament is essentially a PNC team with relatively little experience. As a result, he said that the lead role in Opposition has, in effect, been handed to the AFC which has fielded a team with extensive experience and considerable Parliamentary dexterity. Greenidge asserted that the leadership of the Opposition as a whole has been handed on a plate to Mr. Joe Harmon who he stressed has lost an election for one of the highest offices of the main Party, notwithstanding in-house support, during the campaign. The politician said this is neither a blueprint for democratic practice nor a recipe for success.
Furthermore, Mr Greenidge underlined the fact that questioning of the decision-making process of the party is at an all-time high. He told the Guyana Standard that there is no confidence in this type of arbitrary decision-making and that lack of confidence has been made more acute by the absence of logic behind the choices, frivolous excuses, and trite justifications being offered by Congress Place. Greenidge said that indeed, all of that suggests that the Party, and former President, David Granger in particular, have a ‘leadership crisis’ on its hands.