OPENING ADDRESS BY MR. ROBERT H. O. CORBIN, M.P. CHAIRMAN AND LEADER (AG), PEOPLE'S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM At The SPECIAL DELEGATES’ CONGRESS Held at Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown FEBRUARY 1ST, 2003




WELCOME

Madam Chairperson, Members of the Central Executive Committee; Special Invitees; Delegates and Observers:

It is with a deep sense of pride and satisfaction that I bid you all welcome to this Special Delegates Congress of our Party.

We especially welcome our delegates from overseas who despite short notices and the demands of metropolitan life made the effort to be here today. Among them are some of our old stalwarts, Ms. Margaret Ackman, former Assistant General Secretary of our Party, Ms. Bonita Primo, former Executive member of the Y.S.M.; Mr. Denton Osbourne; other Observers from New York PNC No.1 group, Ronald Backer, Maurice Wilson and Carlton Taylor, and Mr. Lawrence London, Special Invitee from New York; Mr. David Holder, Special Invitee from Canada; Mr. Beresford Edwards, Ivan Richards, and Bernice Chandler, Special Invitees from England. Dear Comrades, We salute you!

We especially welcome our Delegates and Observers from the hinterland who traveled long distances over land, sea and by aircraft to participate in this important event. There is no doubt that our members from the hinterland Regions have borne the brunt of severe economic and social dislocation and, having been robbed of their economic independence, have been reduced to a state of dependency. Yet, Comrades, our members from Region 9 – the Rupununi – have again demonstrated their commitment to our Party. From as far south as Aishalton to the mountainous north of Karasabi, from Yupukari, Annai, Aranaputa Valley, Potarinau, Lethem - some 68 delegates travelled over 15 hours over rugged terrain to be here today. My dear Comrades, we welcome and salute you!

Our Comrades from Region 1 are no different. From Matthews Ridge, Arakaka, Port Kaituma, Kumu, Sebai, Wauna, Bumbury Hill, White Water, Hosororo, Barabina Hill, Mabaruma Settlement and the riverain areas; they have all come. The poor economic state of Matthews Ridge, the closure of the Barama Operations at Port Kaituma accompanied by the heartless dislocation of the workers without any state intervention; the decline of agriculture and the disappearance of markets for their agricultural produce without any meaningful intervention by the relevant state agency and the tremendous cost of air transport have not destroyed their commitment to our Party. Again Comrades, I salute you!

The problems in Region 7, Potaro/Siparuni are similar but our members from Kurupung, Kamarang, Bartica, Batavia and the mighty rivers of Essequibo, are all here. We salute you Comrades!

The neglect by the administration for the farmers in the Pomeroon is now well-known having made national news on so many occasions over the past years. However, these difficulties have not deterred Comrades from the distant Pomeroon River and from Charity to Supenaam on the Essequibo Coast from being present here today. We salute you Comrades!

Our Comrades from the difficult mountainous terrain of Region 8, Madhia, Micobie, Tumatumari, were also determined not to be left out. They too are adequately represented. Comrades, we salute you!

Region 10 has remained, from the inception of our great Party, a solid rock in our foundation. There is no doubt that our comrades are experiencing tremendous pressure as a result of the virtual collapse of the Bauxite Industry; the termination of almost the entire workforce at Kwakwani; the planned dismissal of all employees at Bermine as of February this year; the long blackouts and unreliable electricity supply; the total decline in the social and economic conditions characterised by high unemployment; the increase in drug use and the spread of the AIDS epidemic. Despite these difficulties, our comrades, like Job, have remained loyal and faithful. The many difficulties have not thwarted their enthusiasm. They are here today Comrades, and we salute them!

The Coastal Regions, Region 6: East Berbice, Region 5: Mahaica/Berbice, Region 4: Demerara/Mahaica,: and Region 3: West Demerara/Essequibo Islands, have lived up to our expectations. They have overcome the challenges and are here despite the shocks suffered from the serious problems in the rice industry; the uncertain future of sugar, the fear, economic loss and other difficulties created by the serious crime and security situation.

Comrades from the Coastal Regions, we salute you!

We also bid a special Welcome to delegates from our Youth Movement, the G.Y.S.M. There are hundreds here today giving assurance that the future of our Party and our country are secure. To the youths of our Party, I salute you!

To borrow some words from our Party’s Battle Song, we can truly say that:

“From the mark of Pointa Playa, to where eastern currents run
And from the Atlantic seaboard to the beautiful savannahs of the Rupununi
All were mobilized by the might of the PNC”

My dear Comrades, today, we meet at this Special Delegates' Congress exactly 39 days since the sudden death of our great Leader, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, on 22 December, 2002. The shock waves which his death sent through our Party still reverberate within us and our sadness over his loss is immeasurable. Yet, in our moments of grief we did not lose courage.

We absorbed the shock and responded by demonstrating our organisational skill and competence, our commitment to the cause and our determination to carry on the struggle until final victory.

Our Leader was accorded the respect he deserved. His critics were silenced. Many were forced to acknowledge the tremendous contribution which he made to the development of our Party and our beloved country.

The fact that this Special Congress is being held in such a short time is in itself evidence of his competent leadership and of a Party well-organised, and resilient, with its leadership resolutely moving forward, together. The Organising Committee and all the regions which made it possible must be congratulated.

We must therefore express our sincere gratitude to all those who assisted us in our hour of need, many of whom came forward without being asked. We must also congratulate and thank our leaders and members in the many regions for the organisation of memorial programmes in their regions and participation in the National Funeral arrangements.

The New York group must also be congratulated for being the first overseas group, in collaboration with friends and supporters, to have organised a memorial service in Brooklyn. We thank our friends in the New York and New Jersey areas, including US State Senator John L. Sampson and other State and Borough Officials for their support and congratulate them for the impressive programme organised in memory of our Leader.

Similarly, we thank our members, friends and supporters in Canada, Washington, Atlanta, London and Barbados for organising similar programmes and salute them.

Following the death of our Leader, the leadership of our Party implemented the transition arrangements, in accordance with our constitution. I readily accepted the challenge to carry on the functions of Leader. The members of the Central Executive Committee, members of the Party, and many in the wider Guyanese society gave full and unstinted support, and the work of the Party continued without any interruption. For this support I want to express my sincere thanks and urge this Congress to show our appreciation to them all. Together, we have so far been able to keep our Party intact. We have so far been able to defeat the machinations of our detractors who predicted - and some took active steps in organising - that the Party leaders would be divided; that there would be confusion, and that the People's National Congress Reform would self-destruct.

These detractors failed to take into account that this is the Party formed by Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham; that this is the Party which, in 1964, when our country was divided by racial strife, brought peace and harmony to our homeland; that this is the Party which, in August 1985, after the sudden death of our Founder Leader on August 6th, of that year, held its Biennial Congress on schedule, some three weeks later; this is the Party that managed a smooth transition from Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham to Hugh Desmond Hoyte and went on to win the Elections in December of that very year; this is the Party that, between 1985 and 1992, under the leadership of our then new Leader, Hugh Desmond Hoyte, led the economic recovery of our country, attracted new and significant investments, creating employment opportunities and improving the quality of life of our citizens. Yes Comrades, this is the Party that was bold and imaginative and unafraid to make changes in its Organisation and ideological direction, after the death of our Founder Leader, in keeping with the changing world's political and economic circumstances.

Consequently, therefore, there should never have been any doubt that, despite the sudden death of our Leader, this great Party would have risen to the occasion, performed masterfully and confounded our enemies. Let us not fool ourselves; our enemies are still at work trying to organise disharmony within our midst. I am confident, however, that we will not allow ourselves to be manipulated, or allow our personal aspirations to cloud our visions and unwittingly allow our enemies to succeed in their objectives.

In this regard, I want to specially congratulate those persons who, despite the organised campaign in the media and elsewhere, obviously designed to ferment strife within, remained focused on the overall objectives of our Party.

Our Party has always had in its leadership capable persons who, at a moment’s notice, could rise to the occasion and carry this Party forward. Both of our previous leaders, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and Hugh Desmond Hoyte, had cause to advise our enemies in Bob Marley’s style:

“Killing me is a waste,
Another Rasta gon take me place”

Note should also be taken of our late Leader’s prophetic words just before his last birthday celebration, “that he would not be Leader of our Party on his next birthday”, and “that there would be a seamless transition”.

Like his other bold initiatives to transform our Party and our country’s economy, many of us could not appreciate their wisdom and correctness until they had materialised . . . . .

. . . . I salute you, Comrades, for your resoluteness, your determination and commitment to the goal. Let us continue to march resolutely forward to victory.

Comrades! Will you not continue to march resolutely forward together until ultimate victory?

TRIBUTE TO OUR LEADER

Our departed Leader, like his predecessor has left a rich legacy for our Party for which we should be proud. He steered the ship of our Party through turbulent waters and used the compass of reality to charter a new direction; he successfully led our country from a period of economic stagnation to Economic Recovery. Indeed, much has been said and written of him since his death to convince us that he was on the right path . . . . Some may say, “how could the right path lead to ten years in Opposition”, a question that will certainly be addressed by his critics over the next few years.

I warn against us being side-tracked on irrelevant issues at this time. There is too much to be done.

Let us be assured by the fact that life and history have many bitter-sweet lessons. I have always felt confident that our divine creator works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform: Biblical history reminds us of the 40 years our mighty God kept the children of Israel in the barren desert to prepare and fashion them to enter the Promised Land.

My dear Comrades, I feel the spirit of our ancestors beckoning us that our time in the desert is almost over; that our journey is not destined to take those biblical 40 years; that the maximum time allocated for the journey is 14 years – but it can be shorter; that we are almost on the river bank of the Jordan. Let us therefore not look back like Lot’s wife but march forward with confidence to the other shore with good governance for all the people of this beautiful land of our birth.

As I stated in my tribute to him at the State Funeral:

“He approached his tasks with creativity and innovation and a spirit of inquiry that allowed him to question methods, strategies, policies and programmes. His revolutionary thinking produced new ideas and projects hitherto unfamiliar to us. He recognised that change was as necessary a part of politics as it is of life and he was unafraid to make changes where he considered them necessary, even at the expense of personal popularity. He was determined to ensure that his Party did not become a dinosaur, irrelevant and eventually extinct. Consequently, he ensured that we adapted to new circumstances, new challenges and new responsibilities and in doing so he carried the torch lit by his predecessor, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and advanced the struggle for human dignity, freedom and genuine independence.

How else could one explain his resolute change of the economic philosophy of our country characterized by the Economic Recovery Programme or the change in the ideological direction of the Party”.

Our Leader may well have chosen to live a comfortable and rewarding life but, having accepted the call to political life, he gave all his energy and intellectual powers to the causes and beliefs which he embraced and made himself a fine and noble servant of the interests of this country, its people, and our Party.

He was a formidable man, tireless in his work habits, intolerant of incompetence and corruption, meticulous in his attention to detail consumed with the rightness of our cause and the need for justice and honour in the life of our country.

He was a visionary, and always conducted public policy and political strategy on the basis of deeply held and thoroughly analysed understandings of the needs of Guyana. His work and writings demonstrate that he understood the international role which Guyana should serve, he understood the needs and strategies for economic development and he had a clear appreciation of the requirement and importance of social and cultural cohesion in our multicultural society. He was not merely a thinker and philosopher on the development of Guyana. He was an unflagging worker in its cause. His legendary seriousness of purpose and focus on national priorities are, for many Guyanese, the mark of the man. In times of crisis and challenge, Hoyte put country first and was always willing to do the right thing for Guyana, cost it what it will.

He is no longer with us in the flesh but his legacy of patriotism; devotion to duty and a civilised life will remain with us for a long time.

I repeat my remarks in tribute to him:

“Those of us who must attempt to fill the void he leaves behind can do no better than to hold fast to the values he held most dear: honesty and efficiency; hard work; a liberal and open society; a market driven economy; and a cohesive community. We who must now carry the torch must like him approach the present tasks with creativity and innovation. We must in his memory be prepared to embrace revolutionary ideas and be unafraid of change if this is considered necessary.

We will build on the legacy he has bequeathed to us. We therefore pledge ourselves to the task of working for a beautiful and better Guyana, one of inclusiveness, economic progress peace and harmony so that all citizens in our beloved country would say with pride and conviction, “I’m proud to be a Guyanese”.

Rest well dear Comrade . . . you have done your task. Be assured that the torch has already been picked up . . . we will carry on the struggle.

May his soul rest in peace!

Our Congress conveys to his widow, Mrs. Joyce Hoyte, our sincere condolences and assures her that as a Party, we consider it our duty to ensure that her interests and welfare are protected and preserved.

ONE MINUTE SILENCE

THE PURPOSE OF THIS CONGRESS

It is with the desire to build on the legacy of our late Leader and to approach our immediate tasks with creativity and innovation that this Special Congress has been summoned by the Central Executive Committee.

We recognised that with the sudden passing of our Leader the propaganda which our detractors were likely to spread; the absence of any reliable mass media under the control of the Party; the sense of loss and possible despair which our members were likely to be experiencing; the serious crisis facing our nation and the challenges which our Party faces, that it was necessary to quickly reach out to our members, countrywide, to ensure that there was absolutely no doubt about the road ahead.

We felt too that there may be some at home and abroad, believing that in our hours of sorrow, we would be weak. Consequently, they may be tempted to use the occasion to take advantage of this so-called opportunity.

This Congress is therefore intended to send a strong signal to all and sundry that the People's National Congress Reform, in the face of its loss, remains strong and resilient; organised and unified and determined to carry on the struggle resolutely forward together.

This is not a routine Biennial Congress where we deal with a whole range of matters including election of office bearers and where we have more time allocated for such matters. After all, our Biennial Congress met only five months ago; discussed our strategy in detail, and gave directions on the course ahead. We made decisions and set tasks for the Executive and our general membership. We, therefore, need to use our limited time wisely, receive and evaluate reports on the tasks set at our recent Congress and clarify the immediate tasks which are to be executed.

The transition arrangements specified in our Constitution did not make it compulsory for us to hold a Congress. We could merely have held a General Council Meeting. However, the General Council would not have enabled us to reach out directly to such a wide cross-section of our members. Our Special Congress, therefore, in-so-far as our constitutional requirements are concerned, is doing no more than a General Council would have done but in a more profound way.

Let us therefore concentrate on the business at hand and not allow ourselves to be diverted.

BIENNIAL CONGRESS DECISIONS

Our last Biennial Congress, in August last year, made many significant decisions. Among them were the pursuit of the initiative on Shared Governance; accelerating the re-organisation of our Party; the establishment of a parallel economic organisation to promote economic development in our communities; promoting inclusivity both within and without the Party; cessation of Dialogue unless the government acted responsibly in good faith and implemented decisions, including those required by constitutional changes; the distilling of the relationship between the Party and the Reform Component; that the Party leadership be more proactive in reaching out to groups and regions away from the centre and that the Party be more aggressive in representing the interests of its members.

The decisions of our last Congress were vigorously implemented. Central Executive Committee members were assigned responsibilities and sub-committees under their Chairmanship were established on Shared Governance; Inclusivity; Party Re-organisation; Secretariat Restructuring; Parallel Economic Organisation; Policy Development and Youth. The consolidated report to be presented later today will report on their stewardship and you will have an opportunity to evaluate their performance so far and offer any further advice.

In addition, plans are well advanced to hold the Annual Retreat of our leadership team between the 14th – 16th February, 2003. Work on the establishment of a parallel economic organisation is in progress. Our outreach exercises have already commenced and there were three successful sub-regional conferences held in Region 9 at Yupukari, Aranaputa Valley and Karasabai, while in Region 1, two sub-regional conferences were also held at Port Kaituma and Mabaruma.

The government remained intransigent paying only lip service to agreements obviously believing that propaganda would suffice. The result has been that the Parliamentary impasse remains and very little progress was made in the implementation of decisions arrived at during the dialogue process.

Our representations to the government on issues affecting our supporters and society in general, have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears and this has in no small way contributed to the crime and security crisis which we now face and must be prepared to confront.

THE CHALLENGES WE FACE

In the above context the challenges which we face are many and to some extent dangerous:

 Guyana is in crisis.

 The economy is almost in ruins.

 Jobs and job opportunities are non-existent.

 There is no sign of any new investment while thousands of our youth leave our educational institutions yearly in despair.

 The cost of living continues to spiral daily and indeed, only Christ knows the answer to the increased burdens which the impending increased electricity charges will impose. [If I may digress, Comrades, this is one issue on which we must be prepared to take a stand].

 The business sector is hurting as highlighted by the many foreclosures weekly in the courts.

 Vendors remain on the streets for want of nothing else to do while entertaining the daily hope that things will change.

 The private sector, faced with an incoherent or non existent investment policy and vindictive practices by the administration, is contracting rather than expanding and many of our local entrepreneurs who were determined to end their days in their motherland have either left or are in the process of leaving with heavy hearts for Northern shores.

 Thousands of professionals and our skilled and unskilled workers migrate annually in search of a safer environment and a better quality of life.

 Extra judicial killings continue unabated and a large section of our youth faces a future of termination with extreme prejudice.

 The crime and security situation is totally out of control and the moral of our security forces are at a low ebb.

 The marginalisation of our villages continues unabated and gloom and suffering appear to be the destined lot of their citizens.

Yet, Comrades, the regime remains in a state of denial and proclaim that there is no crisis. Perhaps the only crisis they would perceive is, a Jim Jones’ Jonestown type crisis, but, the way things are going we are not far from that.

As a Party however, we cannot sit idly by and watch our country self-destruct. The time to act is now and we must clearly define our tasks and pursue our goals.

OUR IMMEDIATE TASKS

In the face of our challenges I submit that there are five immediate tasks which must be pursued in the context of our directions from our last Congress:

Reorganisation of Our Party

First, the reorganization of our Party must be accelerated. Our basic units, the groups, must be revitalized and be relevant to the communities in which they exist. Unless they are geared to respond to the needs of our members and others in the community, they will be useless.

Indeed, we will have to re-examine our structures at all levels to ensure that our Party machinery is effective and efficient in fulfilling its goals and objectives. To this end, the Congress will be asked to authorize the Executive to establish a Constitutional Review Committee to recommend changes, if any are considered necessary.

More important than our structures is the manner in which we approach our tasks. Unless we work as a team we will not succeed. It is for this reason that our thrust is to emphasise a team approach with members playing their different parts to ensure overall success. Many proposals are under discussion and will be finalized at our Leadership Retreat in February.

For example, our constitution only provides for 3 Political Secretaries. Our thinking is that the Executive must be organised in a businesslike manner with members assigned specific responsibilities for which they will be accountable. It is therefore quite likely that we may identify several Political Secretaries or Directors who will be responsible for subject areas such as: Education and Training; Business and Financial affairs; Hinterland affairs; International Relations; Policy Development; Parliamentary Affairs, etc.

The end result must be that we have a good team, well-balanced and skilled to perform at various aspects of the game. We must have batsmen as well as bowlers, but, there must be a wicket keeper, all-rounders and a captain. Even if the entire team is assembled and there is no application of one’s talents and skills, then the team will fail as we have seen with the mighty West Indies Cricket team.

Discipline

Finally, if there is to be success, discipline at all levels is essential. One of our great weaknesses at present is the indiscipline which we have permitted at all levels in our ranks. We cannot be indisciplined at senior levels and expect to enforce discipline in our ranks. We cannot disrespect others and expect others to show us respect.

Our ideological direction may have changed, but some of the principles outlined in our Declaration of Sophia are universal and are as relevant today as they were then. I quote:

“Party membership must be a reward to be sought after, a qualification which has to be earned. It must not be come by, unless the applicant has gone through the crucible of training, testing and performance. It cannot, I repeat, cannot, be bought . . . .

“On the other hand, though membership should be a reward and a badge of honour, it is not, and the Party should see that it does not, become either a means of self-aggrandizement or some thing to be used as ‘royal purple’ to be arrogantly vaunted abroad. Arrogance and insensitive behaviour do not go with service to the Party and the Nation, and in the Revolution. Understanding, humility and example are the instruments of persuasion”.

One of our greatest weaknesses at the moment is indiscipline and unless we resolve to correct it we would be dreaming to expect victory in our cause.

Education

In addressing this weakness, education and re-orientation of our members are pivotal. We must re-introduce a vigorous re-education programme among our members and supporters. Unless they understand clearly the direction we are going, their actions may be counter productive to our cause. But until we re-orient and re-educate them, we cannot castigate them.

Until then, the fault will be ours, not theirs. Once we have done our job properly, then we must be prepared to deal firmly and swiftly with indiscipline in our ranks, irrespective of whether it is at the expense of popularity. No army can win a war with indiscipline in its ranks or where everyone behaves as a general.

It is to be hoped that we have the resolve to do what is necessary to make our organisation strong and dynamic, capable of successfully facing the challenges which lie ahead.

Victory at the Next Elections

Our second task is to ensure victory at the next General and Regional Elections. To achieve this goal we must put our machinery in place immediately.

No political Party worthy of support can continue to survive if it does not have excellent prospects of securing political power and forming an alternative government.

While we do not seek political power as an end in itself, we cannot achieve our objective of a better way of life for all Guyanese if we do not have the power to introduce the changes that are essential for this to be achieved.

We must be prepared to eschew all personal prejudices and ambitions; we must be willing to attract and keep in our ranks all those who share our common objective; and we must be prepared to form alliances and work with all in mutual respect if we are to succeed.

I am supremely confident that we have the capacity and skill to be the next government of Guyana. If I did not believe this, I would not be here today. Those who harbour doubts are unhelpful to our cause. Their psychological baggage will be heavy to carry and they would be unable to convince others to the cause.

“Let us therefore work to win for win I am sure we can.
Can we do it Comrades? I’m sure the answer is “Yes we can”!

Immediate and Medium Term Programme to Alleviate the problems of our Members and Supporters

Our third task is to implement an immediate and medium term programme to alleviate the severe economic and social problems being experienced by our members and supporters throughout the length and breath of Guyana. The reasons are simple and straight-forward.

Over the last 10 years our members have been battered and bruised by the discriminatory and inept policies of the government. Entire communities have been marginalized and ostracised from the mainstream of normal life. Social and economic problems with their concomitant side effects plague these communities. Their very survival is threatened. Joblessness and poverty have created in our youth a feeling of hopelessness and despair.

The government has been unresponsive to our simplest suggestions. They somehow feel that they are insulated from the catastrophic effects of this volatile situation. They are wrong as can be seen from the devastating effects of the present crime wave. Whether they know it or not, our society is on the brink of an explosion, maybe sooner rather than later.

Those who feel that our peaceful return to Parliament will solve the present dilemma are hopelessly wrong. If and when that explosion occurs, no political Party, no religious leader will be able to stop the effects of such an explosion.

Those who have ears to hear – let them hear!

The actions of the People's National Congress Reform so far will seem like a small tremor to the earthquake that will erupt.

We cannot, however, sit idly by and allow our comrades to be annihilated. We must act now. We cannot tell our comrades to wait until the next elections when we take over the government; nor can we tell them that shared governance is the answer. We as a Party will have to be pro active. We will have to take the lead and organise economic and social programmes that can bring immediate relief.

Indeed, that is what the parallel Economic Organisation is intended to do. Our groups must therefore be the catalyst for stimulating and executing projects that can provide employment and job opportunities, especially for our youth. We will have to organise programmes to deal with drug abuse, AIDS awareness and the other social ills present in so many communities in our land. Unless we do this urgently, a whole generation will be lost. This task is urgent and must be executed with the immediacy it deserves.

Shared Governance

The initiative of shared governance has been fully discussed at our last Congress but a few words need to be said.

The Party’s position on shared governance, an adjusted system of governance, must be clearly understood.

The idea of shared governance is not an alternative to winning an election. Some who speak of this concept project it as a fall back position to be held on to and used to share crumbs if one lost an election. This is wrong and must be dispelled immediately from our minds.

Shared governance must be seen as the mechanism to provide for institutional arrangements which can guarantee the participation and involvement of all citizens in the mainstream of national life irrespective of which Party is in government.

It is a concept that may only survive if the People's National Congress Reform gets into government, if one were to take seriously the recent utterings of the President.

It is evident, therefore, that we have to win the government at an election if the idea is to succeed. We therefore must be prepared to work with all like-minded persons, in and out of Guyana, if the initiative is to be implemented in Guyana.

In the circumstances, we cannot avoid the inevitable task of winning the next elections.

INCLUSIVITY AND OUTREACH

Our historical experience has forged a land with peoples of differing cultures and ethnicity: The dream of creating a land of one people, one nation and one destiny still eludes us.

In the circumstances, the need to promote inclusivity, both nationally and within our Party becomes imperative. It is counter productive to work for national inclusivity if we do not practise it in our Party.

We must deal with this issue openly and objectively.

There is no doubt that within our Party there are those who harbour prejudices, many times based on perceived stereotypes. If inclusitivity is to succeed then there is need for many of us to reorient our thinking and change our attitudes. This need to change is not confined to any one group.

We have to respect each other for what we are despite our differences. Respect must be mutual. We need to make special efforts to ensure that our words and actions do not convey the wrong impressions. We must also be slow to arrive at quick conclusions that every objective criticism or every disagreement has its roots in racial prejudice.

Our quest as a Party for inclusivity is not new. This has been our goal since the formation of our Party.

Speaking on this issue our Founder Leader stated that:

“One of the greatest achievements of our Party to date is that we were able to bring together the two major race groups. You will remember that, prior to the advent of our Party, we had African politicians appealing to Africans, and Indian politicians to Indians, and neither set appealing to Guianese” . . .

This was not an idle boast. A perusal of our history will confirm the facts.

Retired Chief of Staff, David A. Granger, in an Address to the Georgetown District of our Party on the 26th October, 2002, entitled “Where do we go from here” did an excellent job of outlining these developments in our Party and I suggest that it be made compulsory reading for all members.

As Granger reminded us:

“When the ‘split’ occurred in 1955, Joseph Lachmansingh and Jai Narine Singh, two ministers of the 1953 Administration, both of whom were former executives of the British East Indian Association (BGEIA), joined the Burnhamite faction”.

Our policy of inclusiveness, he pointed out, was largely responsible for the Party’s ideological resilience, survival and success; and he emphasised that:

“Such a philosophy enabled it to absorb, as early as 1959, the United Democratic Party, bringing Eugene Correia, Neville Bissember, John carter and Rudy Kendall into its ranks. It enabled the party to coalesce with the United Force (UF) in 1964 to form Guyana’s first and only real coalition administration.

It enabled the party to attract an A to Z of members of the People’s Progressive Party – from Mohamed Alli to Mohamed Zaheruddin; to appoint the best and brightest Guyanese such as Shridath Ramphal and Mohamed Shahabudden to become ministers and others such as Lionel Luckhoo, former leader of the National Labour Front (NLF) and Ann Jardim (UF) to become diplomats. Thus, the party’s philosophy of national orientation and racial integration liberated it from the fatal tendency of appointing political loyalists to positions of responsibility, no matter how incompetent they were.

The most recent manifestation of this policy has been the association with the Reform component. No other major party in the history of Guyana has been so willing to welcome independent persons of such diverse political views on the basis of their commitment to the goals of national and racial integration”.

I have dealt at length with this matter since it appears that some members either from lack of knowledge or other reasons fail to show an understanding of the party’s thrust in this direction.

The refusal by some to appreciate the move of our late Leader with respect to Reform is a useful example.

Let us therefore understand the reality and in our words and actions demonstrate that we do.

OTHER TASKS

There are many other important tasks for us to accomplish. I have only named a few today. Financial organisation to execute our programme is essential. Our outreach programme to other organisations and groups in Guyana cannot be neglected and there must be no let up in our struggle to expose corruption and demand good governance from the present discriminatory regime.

CONCLUSION

My dear comrades, there is much to be done.

Time is not on our side. We, who now have picked up the torch lit by our Founder leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, and carried by Hugh Desmond Hoyte, have a mission to fulfil.

All Guyana cries for help. Only the People's National Congress Reform and other like-minded groups and individuals can rescue this nation.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, I urge you to respond positively.

Let us leave this Special Congress determined to succeed in our mission. Indeed, we have no other choice.

Victory is certain once we act in unity moving RESOLUTELY FORWARD TOGETHER.
For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, I urge you to respond positively.

Let us leave this Special Congress determined to succeed in our mission. Indeed, we have no other choice.

Victory is certain once we act in unity moving RESOLUTELY FORWARD TOGETHER.