There is always much to write about Guyana. But whether there is anything this week beyond the regular news, good and bad, to interest the reader enough to spend fifteen minutes on a Sunday morning on a 800-word article, is doubtful.  One exception is the election of Kamal Ramkarran as the new Bar Association President. I can write about this a whole lot, good and bad, and I can give a lot of advice but since I expect that it will only be politely ‘given consideration,’ I have to decline and seek out events overseas.  

The first is the conviction of former President Donald Trump on 34 felony charges, the first time for a former US President. He can still run for President but cannot vote, even for himself. Trump is a man with unique traits, derived from a deeply narcissistic character, who came along at a time in US history when wages have been stagnant for fifty years, the gap between the rich and the poor have expanded exponentially and over 75 percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. He has been able to successfully deploy his characteristics to subvert the leadership of the Republican Party and exploit the dissatisfaction of Americans to become a competitive candidate for President. The American pro-Democrat pundit class are at their wits end to figure out the reason or reasons for the Black, Brown, Hispanic and Youth vote becoming disaffected enough to have substantially lost interest in turning out to vote at all, or of voting for President Biden, despite the low unemployment figures and the significant reduction in inflation. Only a very few in the US, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, advocate that unless the vast capacity of the American capitalist system is deployed to rectify the imbalances against the working and middle classes and in favour of the rich, disaffection will continue.   

It’s a matter of great amusement to listen to the morning talk shows on American Television praising the American justice system, declaring that it’s the greatest in the world, having given a fair trial to a former President and twelve ordinary citizens agreeing unanimously to convict him. President Biden said that was what America was all about, fairness, and that it is “who we are” as Americans. It took Congressman Jamaal Bowman to take Americans who wish to listen back to earth. He pointed out that the American justice system has never been fair to Black and Brown Americans. But the fact that a former President, as popular as former President Trump is, can be convicted, albeit by a jury comprised of New Yorkers, a heavily Democratic constituency, is a positive mark for American justice and the jury system, which I have opposed in the past, especially for Guyana.

On another continent, in Africa, the African National Congress, has stumbled because it has not satisfied the expectations of its people for economic development. On a turnout of 58.61% the ANC secured 40.17%, DA (Democratic Alliance) 21.82%, MK (uMkhonto weSizwe) 14.59% and EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) 9.49%. and four other smaller parties just over 8%. The President is elected at the first sitting of the National Assembly presided over by the Chief Justice. While the ANC is likely to retain the Presidency, it is not yet known whether it will be an alliance between the ANC and the DA or the ANC and the MK only, which will be enough to take it over 50%, or the ANC, MK and EEF. An ANC and DA alliance will turn South Africa to the right while either of the latter two, or both, will take it to the left. The ‘left’ only means that the two smaller parties are urging more aggressive policies to deal with poverty in South Africa with its extensive slums and over thirty percent unemployment.

South Arica’s constitutional and justice systems, long admired but heavily tainted by apartheid, having been liberated by the ANC and the establishment of a constitutional court, are much admired in countries such as Guyana. The development of South Africa’s humanity has been recently expressed by its case before the International Commission of Jurists against Israel’s genocide in Gaza, which has attracted worldwide support especially in the South. Unfortunately, corruption and poverty have remained entrenched. Corruption has grown by leaps and bounds and poverty has remained as deeply embedded as it was during apartheid. It should be clear by now that the remedies advocated by post-apartheid ANC governments to ‘manage’ the largest economy in Africa by the trickle-down theory is not working and that radical measures are needed.

Outsiders without expert knowledge are not equipped to make suggestions. But different methods are tried in different countries with different histories. Capitalism is being successfully tried in India and Vietnam. Land re-distribution, seen as major problems in Zimbabwe and South Africa, was unsuccessfully tried in Zimbabwe. Whether it will ever be tried in South Africa is not known. Whether a model other than that of ‘managing’ capitalism, will ever be tried, or if tried will work, is not known but the low turnout and the election results send an urgent message to the ANC.  Will it listen?            

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