The AFC is destined to be the party in Guyana with the greatest meteoric rise and fall. And to think that they had the objective, intelligent, independent voters eating out of their hands. The AFC – when once it finds the objective fortitude – will look back and admit that their cuddling with the PNC was the worst possible thing they could have done. Not that the Accord was in itself a death-nail to the AFC but the way the party behaved since agreeing to the Accord, is what has killed them.

Imagine that they voted to side with the PNC on this latest budget, when they knew that it would negatively affect the fledging middle-class in Guyana. They approved a budget that imposed austere measures on the very group of people that the AFC needs to support them. And it was not even as if the tax impositions were necessary. There was no reason to tax water and light and the AFC should have objected to that, just like the PNC objected to raising the electrical tariffs on Linden, during the PPP days.

Why I say that the tax on electricity and water are austere, is because we all know that the companies will pass those taxes right along to the consumers. So what AFC agreed to by supporting the PNC taxes, is a double and triple taxation on the citizens of Guyana. The question the AFC needs to ask is this, Has the average Guyanese seen any benefits from the reduction of VAT from 16% to 14%? And the answer is a resounding “NO!” In fact, all the basic commodities have gone up in price. The venders and business owners have simply added a 20% increase on all their items and simply tell the consumers that the disproportional increases are because of VAT. The AFC seems to have forgotten who put them there (as an independent party). We all know that the PNC is a political leopard; unable to change her spots, so no one really expected any kind of prolonged, nationalistic and patriotic change from them.

When the PNC folks doubled their salaries, Moses Nagamootoo and the AFC said that they were opposed to it. However, Mr. Nagamootoo was mostly silent on the matter, even in the face of seismic public outcry. He remained silent until he could keep it in no longer and he embarrassed himself publicly in Parliament, by accusing the PPP of living on fat-cat salaries, when they were in power. When the PNC added VAT to education, Moses Nagamootoo and the AFC were again not in favor of it but they again remained silent.

Now that the electoral earth is showing signs of shifting, the AFC is now belatedly, pretending to have found their voice.  All of a sudden they want a review of the VAT on the minds of our Guyanese children. They did the very same thing with the parking meter saga. They allowed the PNCites to virtually gut Deputy Mayor, Mr. Duncan; calling him all kinds of names and wising the worse for him. Then when the winds of opposition to the parking meter became gale force, the AFC pretended that Mr. Duncan was always their horse in the race.

There is yet another storm brewing. The AFC bigwigs, Khemraj, Nigel, Patterson and several of the rank and file members have publically stated that there should be a review of the draconian sentencing of our youths for usage and possession of marijuana. The United Republican Party (URP) thinks that it is a commonsensical suggestion. A reduction in the arbitrary legislated sentencing of young people – mostly Black boys – will have a number of positive spinoffs. The courts will deal with the matters in a more timely manner, therefore they will reduce their backlogs. The prisons will have fewer inmates, thereby reducing their overcrowding. More particularly, those caught offending can be handed non-custodial sentences and diverted to counseling and remedial substance abuse programs. The government can them offer a stipend to the counseling centers, which would amount to much less than it is costing to house and feed these individuals in our penal institutions. This is also the posture of several other developed and developing countries.

However, we now the default leader of the country, Mr. Joseph Harmon, saying that there will be no easing of the penalties for those caught with even miniscule amounts of ganja. He is quoted as saying that this is not the priority of the Government. Has Mr. Harmon forgotten that the Communingsberg Accord states that the AFC is a part of the Guyana Government? As yet, there is not a whisper from the AFC camp on one of the few legislations that they have crafted.

Please note that the URP is not suggesting a decriminalization of marijuana. What we are suggesting is that there should be a review of the sentencing guidelines for those held with negligible amounts of weed. There must me some common ground.

Editor, I bet you that when the picketing starts and the country comes out in favor of commonsense marijuana legislation, that the AFC will then find their voice. I hope, therefore, is that now that the URP has pointed this out, the AFC will address it, ahead of the national furor. Let’s see if they have the capacity to be politically proactive.