For too long, Guyanese have been saddled with a regime that has abandoned even the pretense of good, accountable governance. Unfortunately – for many Guyanese – the very concept of government accountability is alien and unknown. The APNU+AFC intend to do no less than change Guyana’s political culture; citizens should have an expectation of accountability from their servant-leaders. Also, for too many years citizens have expressed concern about which party will win elections and “rule the country.” The partnership wants to change this erroneous mindset: when the coalition is elected by the people, government will no longer “rule the country,” instead, government’s role will be to serve the interests of Guyanese in an accountable manner. As many citizens of our beautiful country may be unfamiliar with those noble concepts, the partnership takes this opportunity to outline our vision, intention and goals, and how we intend to implement them.
It is our firm belief that good governance is the only foundation upon which a peaceful, prosperous, safe, unified and dignified society can be built. Government itself – central, regional and local – is only one aspect of the bodies through which good governance can be put into practice. The others include Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), religious groups, a free and independent media, political parties, youth groups and other civil society organisations. As the coalition intends to make good governance a reality, the new government will work to strengthen those organisations and groups, instead of suppressing, emasculating and silencing them, as the Jagdeo/Ramotar regime has done. In this way, the partnership will build a system which will guarantee accountability. Strong non-governmental institutions will act as a counterweight – they will, through access and oversight, ensure that the new government does not and cannot exceed its bounds, as the current regime has done and continues to do.
So, what exactly does the coalition have in mind when we say, ‘accountable government’? The APNU+AFC believe that accountability is much more than telling citizens what government is doing. The coalition sees accountability as a relationship between government and the people; a social contract of service, citizen-participation, and account-giving. Not only must citizens be informed and apprised of government’s plans and actions, but Guyanese must also participate in the policy-making process. And that is the second major reason that the coalition will work to empower civil society groups, because it is through NGOs, faith-based institutions, media houses, youth clubs and other groups, that ordinary citizens will have a voice in the government’s plans, intentions and developmental agendas. Accountability – to the coalition – is involvement of all citizens, from the grassroots to the top of government. Accountability is citizen participation, before-the-fact.
Guyanese will have observed that the current PPP regime answers to no one. Billions of taxpayers’ dollars are spent without parliamentary oversight, often, in open defiance of court-orders. Deals involving millions of acres of Guyana’s lands are signed in secret. PPP Ministers operate with impunity and in total disregard for either the law, or democratic norms. Government officials and their friends behave as though they are above the law. Sadly, many Guyanese know of no other political culture; we think that such behavior is normal. But, the coalition knows that the current state-of-affairs is far from what government should be all about.
The APNU+AFC will work to change the expectations of Guyanese. The partnership will – by empowering all citizens – set about to change how citizens view their elected officials. The election of Guyana’s new government will usher into being, a new era, a brighter future, a better life for all Guyanese. Finally, after almost fifty years of independence, the citizens of our beautiful land have the opportunity not only to exchange one party for another; not only to replace one clique of politicians with another group of leaders, but to see that all are subject to the rules. On May 11, Guyanese have the power to change their future; to rewrite their common destiny; to improve their own lives, by transforming the foundation upon which their society rests.
On May 11, a vote for the APNU+AFC coalition will be a vote for a new and open version of accountable leadership. It will be a vote, not only for a change of government, but for good, democratic, transparent and participatory governance.