Aug 12, 2017  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

Over the past five years, I have read about this and that training programme that foreign entities have offered to Guyanese journalists. But I have a question that is motivated by honest curiosity: What have our journalists done with these rich exposures?
This country has one of the most exciting political environments in the entire world. In rich, developed countries like Canada, Holland etc., politics is never exciting. Compared to all its CARICOM neighbours, Guyana’s political landscape is overflowing with questions, curiosities, mysteries and weirdness. Yet journalism hardly ever visits these corners of Guyana.
I rather suspect that President Granger is extensively aware of these inscrutable issues. Out of fear that a related subject may pop up and confront him with an awkward moment, he chooses not to have open press conferences. I haven’t done the research, so I will shape my frustration in the form of a question. Is there another Prime Minister or President in the world that after two years in office has only held one open press conference?
If he is two years, two months into his reign and has only faced the general media once, we can safely assume that should another one be held, that would be the only other one before the 2020 elections. This would mean that in a full five-year term, the President would have faced the general media corps only two times.
Looked at from any angle, that is deeply unacceptable, and the society should press the president to honour his modern obligation and meet regularly with the media. The controlled, little thing called the “Public Interest” is not an open press conference which he is obliged to hold, so the President should not embarrass himself by citing that as an example of his encounters with the media.
I am speculating, but I think I am on safe ground when I say that the President is anticipating that some stuff may come up from the jungle of intrigues that canopies the political edifice of Guyana, and he is not prepared to go into that heated kitchen. But here is the thing – the president’s trepidation is misplaced. Who says our journalists will put forth the right inquiries that need to come to the surface.

To date, only one journalist has pursued a mystery that needs to be explored. Kaieteur News’ Leonard Gildarie has enquired from both the AFC and APNU, the veracity of the President appointing his son-in-law as a Minister and two others from the AFC on his own, outside of the stipulations of the Cummingsburg Accord. No other journalist has touched this very sensitive matter. I doubt in any other country only one journalist would have found an interest in it.
Take the WPA. Surely, there cannot be another country like Guyana. The WPA made tempestuous waves about being neglected in the policy-making corridors. It cited its co-leader, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, as being appointed and relieved of his ministerial portfolio without official consultation by the President with the WPA. Then Roopnaraine resigned from government. The WPA informed the nation that Roopnaraine’s decision was made with the party’s approval. Then Roopnarine took back his resignation and the WPA told the nation, he didn’t tell his party he was doing so.
The WPA’s official position, as adumbrated at a press conference, is that now that its complaints have been aired in APNU’s leadership, it feels it is in a better position to have an input into policy-making. But how it does so, it does not explain. Its man in the Cabinet is not really its man in the Cabinet. Such a comical, contorted, caricatured and ugly scene can only be found in Guyana. And our journalists have not sought out the WPA to put some serious questions to it. Is Roopnaraine still co-leader of the WPA and does the membership accept him as such?
Then there is the weird invention of the AFC. Four months ago in Linden, at one of its statutory executive meetings, the AFC birthed a high level committee to renegotiate the Cummingsburg Accord. A press release with the committee’s members was announced. No one knows where that entity is. Last week, the AFC had yet another statutory meeting of its executive, but not one word on the team’s work on the re-working of the Accord.
Not even one journalist has found an interest in such an intriguing development to ask the following questions: What is it that the AFC wants to change in the Accord? What has the committee been doing the past four months? Has the committee made any contact with the APNU leadership? Really, this country just does not exist.