Given the antics that followed the March 2 regional and general elections, one can reasonably expect that the new Government will receive little or no cooperation from the Opposition APNU+AFC, once the 12th Parliament is convened on Monday, August 31, 2020.
With Mr Joseph Harmon practically confirmed as Opposition Leader, this is all a forgone conclusion. Mr Harmon has already signalled his intention to give the Government a ‘hard time’, and given his indifference (to put it nicely) towards the PPP/C’s leadership, many of whom will be front-benchers in the 12th Parliament, there is no reason to believe he would do otherwise.
Mr Harmon’s ascent to the Office of Leader of the Opposition is not surprising, given the manoeuvres witnessed in the APNU+AFC camp in recent weeks. However, any expectation of a new era of cooperation between Government and the Opposition in the interest of Guyana is a pipe dream shrouded in partisan politics. Instead of working together on issues of national importance, we can once again expect to see a divided house, with Mr. Harmon leading the charge, whether right or wrong.
This proverbial crabs-in-a-barrel approach has gotten us nowhere in the past, and will get us nowhere in the future. Now, more than ever, Guyana needs a strong Opposition, not to impede or disrupt progress, but to hold Government accountable and ensure transparency at every level. With unprecedented oil revenues flowing into the Treasury and multiple transformative infrastructural development projects expected to come online over the next five years, a vigilant and vibrant Opposition is warranted. Robust, non-partisan debates are required in and out of the National Assembly, and Guyanese should accept nothing less.
However, Mr. Harmon does not strike me as a person who is overly concerned about robust debates. He will do everything and anything to condemn, cast doubt, and disrupt the Government’s development plans.
An old Chinese proverb states, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the next best time is now”. Hopefully, the Opposition and Government are ready to look beyond the divisive politics of the past and show the Guyanese people that they are willing and able to engage in a bipartisan manner on issues of national importance.
However, for one reason or the other, I do not see Mr Harmon as being genuinely interested in working with the Government in any area. He is more likely to go on a personal vendetta, with little concern for Guyana’s development. As such, Guyanese should not hold their breath in waiting to see any semblance of cooperation taking place between Government and the Opposition, as that is something they would need to wait indefinitely to see.