I HAVE travelled extensively around Guyana over the last week to collect data on a survey I am currently conducting on the nation’s views of the current administration and previous APNU-led coalition regime. One point that struck me is how pleased people are/were to get rid of the coalition. The regime ‘rubbed’ people wrongly. It lost touch with its supporters and the population at large. It treated supporters of the PPP badly, including those who voted for the coalition in 2015. Its defeat was expected, according to those interviewed from both sides of the political aisle. Many of the PNC’s traditional supporters said they did not come out to vote. And many traditional PPP supporters who crossed over to vote for the coalition in 2015 returned ‘home’ and voted against the coalition, guaranteeing its defeat. “We had to vote them out because they disappointed the nation.”
Supporters of the then PNC-led Government (now opposition) and the current PPP-led administration say “it was real pressure” living under the coalition for over five years from May 2015 to August 2, 2020. Even the coalition’s own supporters assailed it. Some of the comments obtained: “It was one tax after another”; “Raising fees on everything”; “It was a tax-and-spend government”; “They don’t know how to grow the economy”; “Finance Minister was a bookkeeper”; “President was not aggressive and not hands on”; “They took care of friends and family”; “A lot of tiefing”; “No compassion for poor”; “Neglected supporters”; “They forgot who helped them to get into government”; “Ministers too arrogant”; “There was hardly any progress”; “One could not see where the money was going”; “Big salary to friends”; and “Thank God they are gone.” It appeared that some people whom they treated badly were just waiting for the day to vote out the coalition.
Some academics, business people, some among the elite commented, UG students, including those who voted for the coalition say they never read of or felt that a government that was so anxious to leave office right after it came to power. It had tremendous goodwill but burned too many bridges with people. In sum, they said the coalition did practically everything wrong to lose office, accusing members of that government of virtually everything negative of a government from self-enrichment, stealing, wholesale corruption, personal greed to neglecting the population. “Losing office was inevitable.”
A (dougla) taxi driver told me: “I voted for APNU in 2015. The coalition gave themselves a big raise. That was a turn-off. They didn’t learn anything because they raised every fee and tax. Many, many African people who sat in my taxi told me they would not vote. On the morning of election day, I was not going to vote. My mother begged me to go and vote for APNU. She said forgive them because they may change in a second term. I went out and vote for them again on March 2 knowing they won’t change. I did it for my mother who is African and my father a dougla. I waited five years to transfer a house lot in my name under APNU. It didn’t happen. As soon as the change occurred and the PPP is back, one month later I got the transfer of a house lot to my name. And I also got approval of a government house lot. I am sorry, I should have voted PPP but my mother said to vote for my people and my party. Under APNU, I would still be waiting. They were a waste of time and it was a waste of vote voting for them. They no good and they not coming back.”
The latter comment is reflective of the views of the coalition around the country. Analogously, people are pleased with the change in the administration. They see a lot of positives in the media.
Although people say not much has been happening materially on the ground to improve their lives, they are willing to give the administration time to turn around the economy. They feel they have a better future under the PPP than under APNU. They noted that the economy is starting to pick up as jobs on the estates and in other sectors are slowly returning.