Malcolm Harripaul says that David Granger possess qualities of leadership propounded in all religions – Religious Values, Morality, Ethics, and Truth. Really?
In a letter to the KN on March 5th, 2011, Harripaul stated, “Mr. Burnham kept a multi-party system, but rigged elections.” Yet Granger claims he has no evidence of any rigging, even though overwhelming evidence exists in the public domain, while Harripaul’s head is stuck in the sand with regards to this denial of his idol.
So here’s a question for Granger: if the PNC did not rig elections can the Brigadier explain why a party that usually garnered more than 80% of the votes at previous elections, was barely able to muster half that amount in 1992, especially given that the PNC claimed Hoyte’s presidency was the best thing since sada roti?
Another ‘leadership quality’ of the Brigadier is his unique revisionism/sanitizing of Guyana’s history. For example, in October 2003, in Santiago, Chile, Mr. Granger presented a paper titled, “Civil Violence, Domestic Terrorism and Internal Security In Guyana, 1953-2003,” at a conference organized by the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies. In his presentation Granger deliberately omitted the PNC orchestrated, May 25-26, 1964, Wismar Massacre of East Indians, but was effusive about the Sun Chapman tragedy, lamenting, “…the most alarming slaughter…of 40 Africans on 6 July…in the Demerara River on a motor launch to Mackenzie.”
Also, in an essay titled, “The New Road,” Granger wrote, with respect to 1973 elections, “…in an abortive attempt to forestall an obvious and overwhelming PNC victory, a campaign of violence and resistance was planned by the PPP. The GDF was called in to aid the civil power and prevent a break down of law and…planned by the gangsters…The soldiers behaved splendidly…The GDF…performed really creditably”.
Granger failed to mention that two East Indians, Jagan Ramessar and Parmanad Bholanauth, were killed on July 16, 1973 by soldiers who seized the ballot boxes. He also failed to mention the massive fear that swept the Corentyne in the face of this atrocity; the intimidatory tactics of the military forces both before and after the elections – constantly marching through Indian areas, running fully armed into people’s yards and bottom houses, summarily ordering citizens to make way and shut up et al. And he failed to explain the incongruity of a party whose members were completely unarmed, planning “a campaign of violence and resistance” against one of the then most militarized governments in the world, thereby setting up its members to be massacred.
Of course, Granger’s research would have revealed the following: From 1969 to 1971, Forbes Burnham received a the monthly stipend of $5,000 in covert funding from the US to build the PNC into “a permanently established and well-organized political party that will be able to contest the next national elections under optimum conditions.” The rationale? “There is no evidence to indicate that Burnham has made any significant inroads into the East Indian electorate so far. If present population and voting trends continue, Burnham would lose to Jagan in an honest election.” Yet in June 1971, a memo to the US Undersecretary of State stated, “Burham’s political position has eroded and it is the current consensus of inter-agency analysts that were free elections to be held in Guyana today, Jagan would be elected.” However, “The outcome of the next election (which must be held no later than March 1974) would not be in real doubt; Burnham will win, if necessary by rigging the election. Our purpose in providing support would be to help make the voting result look more plausible through funding a sufficient level of pre-election organizational activity by Burnham’s party to lend credence to the victory.” (Declassified US State Department Documents 1969-1976).
The rest, of course, is history which somehow eludes historian David Granger who recreates his own history so how does not have to explain the incongruity between what he terms “an obvious and overwhelming PNC victory” and a situation in which Burham’s political position had eroded while “the current consensus of inter-agency analysts that were free elections to be held in Guyana today, Jagan would be elected.”
Additionally, in 1993 Granger wrote, “The victim of the first recorded political murder was Felix Ross of Port Mourant, a PPP political ‘stronghold’…” Yet, after exhaustive research, social activist and columnist, Ravi Dev, concluded that the death of Mr. Ross was not related to politics or the “disturbances”. Meticulous researcher that he is, it is doubtful that the Brigadier was unaware of this fact.
So can Harripaul explain how intellectual dishonesty, revisionism, sanitizing of history, distortions, half truths, outright inaccuracies, manufactured ‘data’ and labeling of murder as splendid behavior become transformed into truth, ethics, religious values and morality?
Furthermore, why would Indians vote for a man who, as head of the army during the “kick down the door” banditry of the early eighties that targeted mostly Indians, took no action to stop these acts when many of the victims provided proof that military personnel were involved and were harassed by the security forces for so doing? In fact, when an army unit was having creditable success in dealing with this banditry in Berbice, it was recalled to Georgetown because too many bandits (mostly black), were being killed. Not long after, the unit commander, an Indian, resigned.
Given Granger’s denial of history, can Harripaul provide guarantees that a President Granger would not perpetuate himself in power a la his mentor, Burnham, by rigging elections? After all Harripaul should know that the PNC also attempted to rig the 1992 elections but were thwarted by the Carter Center stipulations and the vigilance of Guyanese who were tired of electoral rigging. Surely Harripaul can recall Hoyte’s disbelief when the results were announced? Surely Harripaul would know that the 1985 elections were documented by the WPA and others, as the most massively rigged elections ever.
Then head of the GDF, Norman McLean, had stated that the army had a “constitutional responsibility” to protect the ballot boxes and would not stay in barracks on elections day. For him soldiers had a “geometric loyalty” to the PNC and “comrade leader” Hoyte. Where in the constitution was/is this stipulated? And did Granger subscribe to this geometric loyalty?
Contrast this with the view of a subsequent GDF Commander, Joe Singh, who stipulated the army’s role under his command: “…the GDF, as a national institution, is tasked with the safeguarding of the nation’s territorial integrity and maintenance of internal stability in cooperation with the civil authorities. It must therefore be organizationally unbiased, apolitical and uncompromising in its quest to preserve its integrity, its cohesiveness and its mission-oriented focus.” Which perspective would a Commander-in-Chief Granger embrace – the political partisan one that he may have followed as head of the army or the professional one?
So what can Harripaul do to help his idol win the electoral support of Indians? Persuade Granger to proclaim that his plan to set up an institute of conflict resolution and national reconciliation near the scene of the Son Chapman explosion be matched by a similar gesture relating to the Wismar Massacre so that he can empathize with the pain of Indians in much the same manner that he embraced the pain of Africans; concede to the reality of rigged elections and the role of the army in this despicable exercise; ensure that the investigation into the role of the army in electoral rigging be done in a transparent, objective and comprehensive manner and that that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission go as far back as the sixties to avoid a perception of partisanship.
Now assuming that Harripaul’s commander can be persuaded to do all of the above, there is still the issue of Indians’ fear as it relates to anyone from the belly of the PNC? The fact is that regardless of whether the PPP is as bad as or worse than the PNC, for Indians, suffering under the PNC was a uniquely traumatic experience and post 1992 policies such as ‘mo fyah slow fyah’ and post-election violence, have only served to reinforce Indians’ fear of the PNC. What kind of concrete assurances can Granger give about protecting the ethnic interests and security of Indians, since a Granger victory would mean that a predominantly black security force would once again have a black commander-in-chief?
Now that is clear that Harripaul was pulling leadership qualities out of his hat, just what kind of leader is Brigadier David Granger? As former PNC executive, Joseph Hamilton pointed out recently, “the retired brigadier is a “reluctant politician… incapable of leading a political entity…incapable to energise people “. He has been unable to: heal the rifts in the PNC or coalesce the party’s top leadership to around him; build consensus in APNU (thus the problem of a running mate for Granger) or attract any of the range of anti-PPP, anti government forces. Instead Joseph Hamilton and Van West Charles have deserted the party while it’s likely that others will follow. On the other hand a public endorsement of Granger has come from a man who was expelled by Hoyte, a man whose governance of Georgetown has converted it from a Garden City to a Garbage City, a man whose very name once drove fear into all and sundry. Meanwhile, the only people vigorously campaigning for Granger are a less than a handful of his ex-soldiers. That, plus Granger’s plans to use his ‘veterans’ as scrutineers et al, are quite ominous signs. Given Granger’s leadership qualities as pointed out above and knowing how military personnel have operated in governments in third world countries, Indians are quite apprehensive about a Granger victory. In fact, all Guyana should be!