BY: RAVI DEV
Analysing the French coup of 1851, in which Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte assumed dictatorial power over the French state, Marx reflected on the role of the individual in history: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” And as we watch with horror the raping of our hard-won democracy by the PNC once again, we should analyse those “already existing circumstances” to help us chart a course, out of the quagmire.
In his own person, David Granger represents the party of Forbes Burnham and the PNC that rigged elections in 1968, 1973, 1978 (Referendum), 1980 and 1985. Chosen as a youth just graduated from Queens in 1965, he was sent as a Cadet to be trained at Mons in England. By the time he returned Burnham had disbanded the core of the army the British was bequeathing to Guyana and established the GDF. His dismissal of Major Sattaur to head his new army was a portent of things to come.
Despite his youth, or maybe because of it? – Granger played an integral part in the development of Burnham’s army, which the latter insisted should only be loyal to him and to whom all officers swore personal loyalty. As the head of the unit to promulgate Burnham’s ideas to the army, he was transformed into a living embodiment of those ideas: Machiavellian, doctrinaire and anti-democratic. Hoyte did not promote him as Chief of Staff because he was violently opposed to the dumping of “the Burnham Way”.
Granger lived through all those riggings – and remained loyal. In fact, when Rodney was infiltrating the GDF in the late 1970s, he catapulted Granger over several layers of more senior officers to lead the GDF. He would have to been briefed on the role of army sergeant Gregory Smith, who was assigned to assassinate Rodney. Granger was “Burnham’s boy” in the Disciplined Forces; one of the triumvirate of institutions – along with the PNC party and the Public Service – that were the foundation of his dictatorial rule.
And he has earlier announced that his mission is to complete the “legacy” of Burnham: he so worships that “legacy” that he gave over his own house to the “Burnham Foundation”. And so we have a man who has self-consciously patterned himself to follow in the footsteps of Burnham who came to power through a process that involved a virtual civil war between the two major race groups of Guyana. And who brought Guyana to its knees economically, politically, socially and every other “-ally” in the book.
And we come to the rigging of elections, in which he is presently engaged to hold on to power like his mentor. But Marx had another insight in the same work referred to above where Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon staged that coup to become Napoleon III. “ He observed that “history repeats itself – the first as tragedy and then farce”. And Granger’s rigging is pure farce – not in its consequence, which has already led to the murder of one young man – but what it reveals of “the man with the plan”.
As one wag pointed out Granger is the first who tried to rig in front of the cameras by violating the law as laid out in the Representation of the Peoples Act, Sec 84. There, it was clearly stated that “the Returning Officer (RO) shall, in the presence of such of the persons entitled under Sec 86 (1) to be present as attend, ascertain the total votes cast in favour of each the list in accordance with the Statements of Poll.” Shall we repeat that? Does that need a “gloss”, as the CCJ had archly enquired about the constitutional effects of a no-confidence vote?
And Granger expects to be made President in the farce of the GECOM staff being “too tired to count”; the RO falling ill and rushed to the hospital, but miraculously recovering to yell his concocted “count” from a spreadsheet rather than the SOPs; the GECOM Chair sequestered in a room and later also “falling ill” and having to be ambulanced. And most risibly, the disappearance of the CEO after promising the tabulation from the SOP’s would resume.
(PS: I condemn the stoning of the children’s school bus that resulted in the injury to some of the schoolchildren, as I do of the policemen who shot into crowds demonstrating against elections rigging.)