The Rodney COI and the Partisan Motive

I wrote this article a while ago as a sample for someone but I think that today most of it remains relevant and important. Dr. Rodney’s work and memories of him that have been shared influenced me in many ways. Today, I want to remember him and remind people of how the State continues to treat him. To do otherwise, would not be very Rodney-like.

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Freedom, Dr. Walter Rodney said time and time again, is not a gift that someone can give. Freedom is something that we fight for and it is something that we win. But freedom is not the only thing which requires fight in our situation. If at all we intend to progress then we must also fight for the truth.

For decades the Rodney family and those who had been touched by the man and his works fought for the world to know the truth surrounding his death. A Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the death of Dr. Rodney was established in June 2013 by the Donald Ramotar Government. The CoI’s report was recently completed but is yet to be released to the public.

The CoI, according to the website of the Walter Rodney Foundation, was established following a direct request by the Rodney family. Despite this, it is still important to ask certain questions. Why did the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government only agree to an Inquiry after two decades of being in power? And is this indicative of an underlying motive?

It is necessary to acknowledge the truth surrounding the decision to fund a CoI into Dr. Rodney’s killing. Not only does it achieve the noble aims of delivering truth to those who need it for closure and validating historical beliefs surrounding the matter but it also proves a certain government guilty of state violence in the form of murder.

On February 25, 2016, the lead story in the Guyana Chronicle reported that President David Granger described the findings of the CoI into Dr. Rodney’s death as “deeply flawed”. The head of state, according to the Guyana Chronicle, said “the report is very badly flawed in many respects. From the start we realised that the commission was paying a lot of attention to hearsay evidence and the most glaring example of the flaw in the commission’s report is the fact that they decided to accept the evidence of a convict.”

Why does the president seek to discredit the findings of the CoI? His position within the People’s National Congress – a major faction of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – provides a less than desirable answer. It is reasonable to assume that President Granger’s treatment of the findings is directly related to the fact that it fingers his party and its leader at a certain point in history as being guilty of murder.

Columnist and political commentator Dr. David Hinds recently expressed his disappointment in the president’s stance on the matter. In a letter published in the February 29, 2016 edition of the Kaieteur News, he explained that he would not have been disappointed if the president had chosen to speak as the leader of the PNC since the PNC Government of Rodney’s time and its leader are indicted in the CoI report.

President Granger’s response suggests that his party and those who sit on his side of the fence have viewed the COI as a weapon meant to damage their collective image. At this point, it would be naïve to choose to believe that the Ramotar Government was unware that any outcome from investigating Dr. Rodney’s death could be used as a weapon to inflict political damage.

All things considered, it is clear that the Rodney COI and its work have become engulfed in the partisan politics against which Dr. Rodney and his colleagues of the Working People’s Alliance fought.

While the actions of the Ramotar government and President Granger, as discussed here, appear to be in favour of fighting for the truth, they are each interested in their own motive. The former sought to use Dr. Rodney and his death as a weapon to inflict political damage and the latter discredits the findings of the CoI in keeping with a duty to defend his own partisan interests.

Such actions indicate that partisan interests come before matters of national importance. This inclination to prioritize party before country imprisons the attitude which is necessary for national development.

Dr. Rodney recognized this and fought accordingly for truth and freedom. It is sad that today his history and death have become nothing more than a political tool to partisan players.

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