The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) observed the 22nd anniversary of the 1992 general and regional elections on Sunday 5th October. The elections resulted in the Party’s return to office on 9th October 1992. That return, however, led to the gradual ‘criminalisation’ of the state and precipitated several grave crises, more specifically in the post-2001 period:
- Public security crisis: Armed robberies, banditry in the hinterland, murderous maritime piracy along the coastland, suicides, fuel-smuggling, gun-running and contraband smuggling still prevail throughout the country. The combined cost of corruption, cronyism, graft and the narco-driven crime wave has taken a toll on the quality of life in Guyana.
- Public services crisis: Regulatory and law-enforcement agencies – most particularly the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit; the Environmental Protection Agency and the Guyana Energy Agency – have been starved of adequate assets, equipment, financing and personnel to such an extent as to impair their ability to function effectively. The Government Information Agency, the National Communications Network and the Guyana National Newspapers Ltd (Guyana Chronicle) rigorously exclude Opposition political parties and the dissenting views of civil society. The state media have increasingly become agencies of the ruling political party – the PPP.
- Human development crisis: Public protests have become the most effective expressions of resistance against the PPP’s mismanagement of public health, public security, public works and the public education system. Guyana, in the new millennium, has become more unsafe, unsanitary and more unstable than ever before, owing to the high rate of crime and the low quality of life. PPP policy -makers frequently criticise civil society – especially the Amerindian People’s Association; Guyana Human Rights Association and the Guyana Trades Union Congress. The PPP persistently failed to address the core issues of local democracy, poverty and unemployment.
- The Youth crisis: Unemployment is the central issue affecting young people. The government’s delay in dealing with the jobs crisis and its disregard for measures to solve it can detonate a social explosion which could have dangerous consequences. Young people suffer most, owing to the fact that school-leavers are inexperienced and have a long wait before they find their first job.
- The public education crisis: Public schools are producing an increasing number of illiterate and innumerate youths. The Ministry of Education reports that nearly 7,000 children drop out of our primary and secondary schools yearly. Children who do not complete their elementary education satisfactorily will find it difficult to get jobs as adults. The majority of university graduates, unable to find employment remain under- or un-employed or join the throng of thousands who emigrate every year.
The PPP does not seem to understand why it is failing and why it has lost the trust and confidence even of its once staunch supporters. The party finds itself being rejected by the public because it’s concept of democracy was never about creating autonomous local democratic and other collective structures to empower communities. The PPP perceives governance as merely a form of social authoritarianism through which it could control society perpetually. The PPP’s re-entry to office in 1992 marked the rekindling of its desire to transform the country into a community it can control.