Nov 09, 2017  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

Those were the very words of David Granger when he spoke to the North American chapter of the PNC last week in the US. I have been in the struggle since I was sixteen, and my praxis since then was joined by my academic status as an analyst of my country’s politics, and I didn’t know that aspect of David Granger’s life.
I called the journalist I got the information from to ascertain if Granger used the word “member.” These were his words to me, “Freddie, if he did not use that word I would not have published it.” I thought any further inquiry would lead to me being accused of questioning the integrity of a senior Guyanese journalist. If Granger was a PNC member for 52 years, then I assume those decades would include the year 2001, when former President Desmond Hoyte was Opposition leader.
In that year, Granger accepted to be nominated as GECOM chairman. He was on a list that also included Professor Dennis Craig, Harold Davis, Dr. Gem Fletcher, Justice Rudolph Harper and Steve Surujbally. I don’t know if the others were PNC members, but we now know at the time, Granger was a PNC member. Why then did he agree to nomination? He had to know that would be an unacceptable manifestation of conflict of interest.
Let us move on to another dimension of the 52-year-old membership. As I said, I didn’t know he held such a status in all my years of being involved in social activism and researching Guyanese politics. It meant he was virtually absent on the public political scene throughout his entire membership of his party. When Granger became PNC leader, Clarissa Riehl said publicly she did not know about him in the PNC. At the eastern South Road entrance of the High Court, Ms. Riehl told me she never saw Granger around the activities of the PNC. She said she never saw him in the trenches (trenches was her word).
The focus should now be on the word “struggle.” Granger said he is no stranger to struggle. The difficulty in analyzing that statement is that in the report I read there was no clarification of struggle with the PNC or struggle in general in Guyana. I will have to decide which interpretation to choose. I would like to think that if a man says that he held membership in a party for 52 years, then in the same breath stated that he was involved in struggle, it is logical to interpret the emanation to mean that he was involved in the long arduous activism of his organization.
freddie-kissoon-300x273Stack up my interpretation with what Ms. Riehl said, and an interesting curiosity emerges. And then there is the casual remark made in my presence to Dr. David Hinds by a very senior PNC leader and Senior Minister at a function. To name the Minister is out of the question. To name the function will give the Minister’s identity away, so only David Hinds is living proof of what was uttered. The gentleman said that Granger was nowhere around when the PNC was struggling. I got the pellucid impression that this person does not think Granger should be the leader of the PNC and the President.
So we have two intrigues here. What was Granger doing all these years after he demitted public office, when the PNC Government had to stave off the tempest of the PPP under Jagan, the WPA under Rodney and a volcanic civil society bent on denouncing the Burnham presidency and then the Hoyte administration? There could be a couple of answers.
First, membership of a party does not necessarily mean you have to be active. Secondly, Granger may interpret membership the way Christopher Ram does. Mr. Ram, according to Dr. David Hinds, sat in the leadership of the WPA for a number of years. Earlier this year, Ram sent a published clarification to me and attorney Jerome Khan, to say he was never a WPA member, meaning he didn’t take out a card. I thought all my life there was a valid distinction between “de jure” and “de facto.” I wonder if this is what Granger means.
Thirdly, one can confine one’s activities in a political party to “behind the scene” duties, meaning that you are an essential element in your organization, but you do not wear a public face. This would mean that for those 52 years, Granger’s work inside his party was not publicly known. But I am still curious about his statement, “I’m no stranger to struggle.”