- Mr. Oscar E. Clarke
- General Secretary of the People's
Chairman, Comrade Leader, Members of the Central Executive Committee
and the General Council, Esteemed Delegates and Observers, Comrades
permit me to add my own words of welcome to all Delegates, Observers
and Specially invited Guests, to this our 13th Biennial
Congress. As I remarked
in my message to this congress, which you will find in your Congress
Programme, Congress is usually a time of great excitement when our
Comrades from far and near meet to renew old acquaintances and forge
new friendships. Since
it is the highest decision making forum of our Party, it is always
eagerly awaited by the membership as the opportunity to promote and
ultimately to secure necessary and relevant changes and adjustments
in the body politic.
participants in this 13th Biennial Congress we are
challenged to make bold decisions with respect to the way forward
for both our Party and our Country. Just over forty-five years ago the People's National Congress
was founded at the height of the anti-colonial struggle and in
political and economic circumstances not too dissimilar to those
prevailing at present in our country.
The strategies and tactics so brilliantly conceived and
executed by our party under the guidance and leadership of our
illustrious founder Leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, saw our
Country and all of its people proudly achieve political
independence in 1966, and move on to Republican status four
years later in February 1970.
back over the years no one can deny the fact that the Country under
successive People’s National Congress administration made
significant achievements in all spheres of human endeavour.
once again we are challenged to come up with new and innovative
strategies and tactics to move our party and our Country forward.
Our Party will never flinch from such a noble task.
is well known the Party is organized from the Group structure which
is the basic unit up through the neighbourhood, the District and
finally the Region, while these Party sub-divisions may be adequate
for the coastal Regions 2,3,4,5,6 and 10 there suitability for the
Hinterland is questionable. Indeed
experience has shown that, due to difficulties of communication the
groups in some parts of the Hinterland regions could find it more
advantageous to relate with central secretarial in Georgetown,
rather than with the Regional Headquarters.
It may well be that one of the questions submitted by
Aranaputa Valley Group in Region No. 9 has a bearing on this matter.
question asked is ‘when would a desk be established at Party
Secretariat to look after Interior Affairs?’
A detailed and thorough examination of the situation in
Regions 1,7,8 and 9 in terms of Party organization and lines of
Communication is an urgent necessity.
the last two years Regional Conferences have been held in all the
Coastal Regions; however, because of the communication difficulties
referred to earlier on this important annual requirement could not
have taken place in the Hinterland Regions.
The non observance of this important constitutional
requirement has left the Party members in those Hinterland Regions,
at best, uncertain as to the identity of their Regional Party
Leaders since they would have had no opportunity to vote for new
leaders over the last two years or In some areas longer.
strength of the People’s National Congress derives from the
quantity and quality of its membership; over the years, while the
quantity has remained relatively constant the quality has declined.
This decline in the quality of our membership is due in no
small measure to the non-functioning of Party Groups, which are the
centers of education and orientation of the membership.
The reasons, for the non-functioning of Party Groups vary,
but a predominant factor has been the decline in the national
economy, and the consequent struggle by large segments of the
population to make ends meet.
addition because of migration of large numbers of skilled and
experienced leaders many groups have become moribund. Whatever the
reasons the non-functioning of our groups is a matter of great
concern for the Party and we are therefore challenged to seek new
ways of injecting life into our Party Groups.
In the given economic situation the groups may well consider
the desirability of transforming themselves into economic units
thereby providing employment and income for members.
these negative factors, this congress is being attended by nearly
six hundred delegates drawn from some one hundred and ninety six
(196) Groups representing, both the adult and youth membership in
the ten Regions of Guyana.
on this question of membership let me underline for the benefit of
Party members the decisions, which were taken by the Central
Executive Committee with respect to the recording of Party
membership and the issuance of new membership cards.
effect from the first of June 2002, every Party member or
prospective member is required to complete the new Membership
Application form which makes provision for the Group Secretary to
issue an official receipt to the applicant upon payment of the new
prescribed fee of one hundred ($100) dollars.
This receipt will be prima facie evidence of membership until
the membership card becomes available.
A computer generated membership card will be provided for
each member annually on the payment of the renewal fee of one
hundred ($100) dollars. The
membership year of the Party remains 1st June to 31st
May thus making all cards issued for the year 2002/2003 invalid
after 31st May 2003.
Secretariat of the Party continues to operate with woefully
inadequate resources. In
the result crucial political work necessitating central direction
could not be undertaken resulting in frustration and disenchantment,
especially among our members and supporters in the far-flung
hinterland and riverain areas.
A crucial issue to be discussed at this congress must be ways
and means by which Party members and supporters can become more
meaningfully involved in financing the work of the Party.
thanks to the valuable contributions of a small band of dedicated
volunteers to the work of the Secretariat, the Party continued to
have a positive influence on the affairs of the State.
I refer here to Comrade Volda Lawrence, M.P., Head of the
Party’s Human Services Department, which is undertaking much
valuable welfare work in boosting the Party’s image, both
nationally and within the Party.
response to the many situations of distress, which are now
daily occurrences in Guyana, is entirely due to the ingenuity and
resourcefulness of Comrade Lawrence and her small band of
volunteers. Let us
encourage them with a round of applause.
second stalwart volunteer is Ms Yvonne Harewood/Benn, Head of the
Party’s Public Relations Committee.
the absence of the New Nation, which due to financial constraints,
the Party is still not in a position to publish, many of you look
forward to our weekly Press Conferences and Nation Watch programmes
on Television. Under
Yvonnes’s stewardship, the Party has been able to maintain a
powerful presence in a sustainable way, despite the odds, again I
ask for an encouraging round of applause.
next stalwart volunteer is none other than the Chairman of the
Party’s Legal Affairs Committee, Mr. Basil Williams, need I say
more. Consider the host of Legal matters on which the Party needs to
be advised on a daily basis, then and only then would you begin to
appreciate the vital contribution, which Basil and his team makes to
our Party at this very critical juncture of Guyana’s history.
Again we show our appreciation with a round of applause.
the Chairman, Mr. Hamley Case and other members of the Finance
Committee deserve out thanks. The
Party continues to look to them to develop and to implement plans to
ensure a sustainable source of income.
of the Central Executive Committee and the General Council were
statutorily held during the period under review.
Major items discussed were
The General and Regional Elections and their aftermath
The Political Dialogue and
The way forward for the Party
the aftermath of the General and Regional Elections of March 2001,
the People’s National Congress/Reform filed an election petition
challenging the declared results of the polls.
This action not withstanding, the Party agreed to take up its
allotted seats in the National Assembly as well as in the Regional
the basis of the decleared results of the March 2001 polls, the
People’s National Congress/Reform received approximately 42% of
the National Votes.
translated into twenty-seven seats for the Party in the sixty-five
(65) Seats, National Assembly, (i.e. fourteen (14) National and
thirteen (13) Regional Constituency Parliamentarians).
The Party also boasts seventy-seven (77) Councillors in the
ten (10) Regional Democratic Councils.
In four (41) of the ten Councils our Party holds the
Chairmanship and also the Vice Chairmanship in two (2) of the four,
in which we hold the Chairmanship.
Party therefore, is represented in every one of the Regional
Democratic Councils, and should through its representatives seek
every opportunity to promote the welfare of the citizens of the
regions they represent as well as the national interest.
Our Regional Members of Parliament and Regional Councillors
should be the eyes and ears of our Party in their regions and should
be sources and channels of information on all aspects of life in the
the need to enter into negotiations with the government on a wide
range of pressing national problems relative to Good Governance and
also with a view to speeding up the implementation of agreed
Constitutional reforms, the General Council of our Party mandated
our Party Leader to enter into a process of negotiations with the
one year of meetings between them, and with little or no progress in
the implementation of decisions taken, the Central Executive
Committee of our Party decided that the dialogue should cease until
the decisions already taken, are fully implemented.
In addition, since some of the decisions taken were with
respect to the operationalisation of constitutional amendments
regarding the effective functioning of the National Assembly, a
boycott of the Assembly by the People's National Congress/Reform
Parliamentarians was also instituted.
the Party has taken steps, through its weekly Press Conferences and
in meetings with civil society groups and mass organizations, to
explain in detail its actions, which are aimed at bringing about a
speedy resolution to the outstanding matters of concern.
Sunday 22nd July 2001, at a retreat of the Central
Executive Committee held at the Prairie Hotel at Coverden, East Bank
Demerara, the way forward for our Party was discussed against the
background of the failure of the Party to win the 2001 Elections.
Under the Theme “Shaping the People’s National
Congress/Reform agenda 2001 – 2005”, the Retreat considered the
future of the Party under five broad Sub-heads
The Philosophy of the Party
The Development Agenda for Guyana
Relationship with the PPP/C and
Packaging the PNC/R
report of the retreat has been the subject of further discussion and
refinement by the Central Executive Committee and the General
Council and its conclusions are now in the process of implementation
on a priority basis. The
first priority was to settle the question of the Party’s
philosophical base, which will
underpin all of the plans, approaches and actions of the
Party. The Party’s
General Council at its November 2001, meeting approved a document
detailing the Party’s philosophy as follows:-
People’s National Congress/Reform is committed to contest by
all democratic means available to obtain and hold office in
Guyana at the national, regional and local level in order to
achieve the material prosperity, national cohesion, and cultural
development of Guyana.
are a democratic institution. We believe in the democratic process at the national level
including the key rights to free and fair elections, the rule of
law and the protection of the human rights of all our citizens. We also believe that the practice of democracy within the
internal organs of the party and the right of our members to
chose their leadership at all levels and to participate freely
in the decision making of the party, is a necessary concomitant
of our support for the democratic ideal.
basic strength of the party derives from the work of its members
and supporters at the local group level. The party holds as vital the work and support of its workers
at the group level and strives to give recognition and reward
for their faithfulness.
are an action-oriented party committed to active participation
in community development and local action for self-improvement.
We initiate such activity where necessary and support the
initiatives of non-political organizations that engage in such
are a caring party in which the needs of our members and
supporters are of highest priority.
We will always work to render material and moral support
to communities and individuals in distressed circumstances.
place a high priority on transforming, modernizing and
diversifying the Guyana economy to meet the challenges of the 21st
century. We believe that this objective is to be primarily achieved
through private initiative operating in a free market economy
with an unfettered innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. For that reason, we welcome private investment initiatives
from local and foreign investors.
We place particular importance on the encouragement and
support of local enterprise and facilitating new persons and
groups to the entrepreneurial spirit.
PNC/R sees the role of the state in the economy as that of
facilitator providing a supportive, infrastructural and
regulatory framework. We
also affirm the right of the state to intervene in the economy
when this is in the national interest.
PNC/R is committed to the belief that Guyana’s destiny lies in
the unity of its people and that the diverse origins and
cultural values and beliefs of its people are a source of
strength in the pursuit of the party’s objectives for the
PNC/R is an inclusive party that welcomes to its fold all
Guyanese at home and abroad who share our vision of a
transformed and prosperous Guyana.
We welcome persons of all religious faiths, no religious
faith, all social and cultural backgrounds and all ethnic
origins. We strive
to win to our vision of Guyana persons and institutions who may
not have worked closely with us in the past and make them feel
welcome in our party.
party believes that social justice and equitable treatment of
all Guyanese, but in particular for those communities or
individuals who are particularly disadvantaged, should be of a
major priority, in all our actions and all our policies-in
particular, the PNC/R unreservedly places the welfare of our
Amerindian communities as a very high priority in our policies
and political action.
PNC/R is committed to the territorial integrity of the state of
Guyana, and commits itself, in office or out of governmental
office, to defend the territory of Guyana, and to work in
collaboration with all patriotic organizations to do so.
PNC/R believes that the material and political development of
Guyana is linked to our support for, and participation in, the
integration movement of Caribbean states.
The policies of the PNC/R are resolutely based, on closer
and deeper ties and cooperation with out Caribbean and
the following initial priority items have been agreed with respect
to the other four sub-heads.
Reform including the computerization of the Party’s
Membership records and the issuance of a new (picture
identification) Membership card at an economic cost.
Strengthening the Secretariat by recruiting volunteers
Developing and implementing a fund raising plan and
programmes capable of funding the Party all year round.
Reform of the Secretariat’s security unit.
the PR capacity and capability of the Party
Seeking to develop and present a welcoming image to all
Networking in nontraditional constituencies
PNC/R PPP/C RELATIONS
Education of membership with regard to our Party Philosophy
Demonstrating the power of the Party through mobilization
on issues affecting the populace.
Exposing by every means available the ineptitude corruption
and bankruptcy of the PPP/C and its administration.
Special emphasis to be placed on training to develop and
strengthen Local and Regional Party Leadership.
Improving the mechanisms for Regional/Secretarial
Identifying and pursuing economic and other developmental
projects and opportunities for the involvement of our members and
the upliftment of their communities.
Supporting and enabling local government reforms.
CONGRESS OF WOMEN AND
YOUTH & STUDENT MOVEMENT
female adult members of our Party are constitutionally entitled to
become members of the National Congress of Women.
Thus it can be argued that since the bulk of our party
members are women the National Congress of Women should be the most
populous arm of the Party. Yet
the NCW membership remains relatively small in proportion to the
overall membership of the Party.
There can be no doubt that potentially the NCW is the most
powerful party agency and this fact has been demonstrated time and
time again throughout our party’s history.
me therefore use this opportunity to challenge all the women of our
Party to get involved in the activities of the National Congress of
the last two years the National Congress of Women has been involved
in various kinds of activities all of which have been beneficial to
the members as well as women in the wider society.
the economic front they were involved with various Women’s Groups
in empowerment programmes thus preparing them to become income
Training is an ongoing activity both at their headquarters as well
as at centers on the Essequibo Coast, the Corentyne and at Linden.
Examples of this work of some of the groups can be seen on
display and for sale at the NCW booth outside this congress
movement also hosted many lectures and discussions on subjects
mainly of interest to women and latterly has become involved in
collaboration with the National Democratic Institute, in Workshops
designed to “Empower women in Local Government”, providing
training and orientation for women in preparation for their
participation as councilors and Officers in the proposed New Local
Guyana Youth and Student Movement, the successor of the People’s
National Congress Youth Organisation and the Young Socialist
Movement, has much work to do if it is to recover the great
revolutionary fervour and dynamism of earlier years.
It is true that in recent months there is evidence of an
increased level of activities both in mobilizing more young Guyanese
into membership and in networking with other organizations and Youth
Groups. These are
positive signs and should be encouraged.
One of the major problems facing the GYSM is resource
mobilization. The bulk of its membership comes from the categories
of the unemployed and the students, all dependents; unable to
contribute financially to programmes of the Movement.
this challenge the Guyana Youth and Student Movement must look to
establishing income-generating projects, which can employ and
otherwise utilize the energies of its members.
I am confident that with the support of the Party’s Central
Executive Committee and General Council for any economically viable
project, the GYSM can overcome this serious set back to the
achievement of its full potential.
the period under review the Guyana Youth and Student Movement’s
most successful collaborative effort has been in the area of
networking with the Volunteer Youth Corps and other groups in the
valuable work of spreading “Aids Awareness” Members of the
Movement are functioning as peer educators in the various Regions of
Guyana. The Movement is
the Spearhead of the Party’s involvement in all-major Aids
activities in the country.
organized involvement of its members in sports is yet another area
in which GYSM has been active.
On the educational front the quarterly educational retreat at
Camp Madewini has been gaining in popularity.
In the period ahead the GYSM will be called upon to play an
increasingly active role in promoting the new Strategies and
tactics, which the party must adopt in its quest to ensure that Good
Governance returns to our country.
Government Reform is crucial to any process towards the achievement
of Inclusive Governance. The
task force, which was established as a result of the dialogue
process, has done considerable work in hammering out the legal and
administrative framework, which would facilitate the holding Local
Government Elections. Under
the proposed scheme there will be three categories of Councils,
Village and Communities Councils – Neighbourhood Councils and
Party has been holding internal discussions on the various electoral
options and will soon be ready to undertake outreach work to explain
in details, the proposals for the reform of the Local Government
System in Guyana. During
the Panel Discussion, which will follow my report, Vincent Alexander
our representative on the Local Government Task Force, will
elaborate on this matter, which is crucial to our plans for rescuing
and rebuilding Guyana.
of the Party’s outreach work during the period under review has
been in the nature of firefighting, responding to situations as they
arise. This approach
through unsatisfactory has had to be adopted due to resource
example visits to Regions were not routinely undertaken and only
took place for specific occasions e.g. Regional Conferences,
emergency situations or other special occasions.
By and large only the Coastal Regions benefited from such
visits. Regional reports to General Council often indicated a reduced
level of outreach work by Regional Party Officials no doubt also due
to limited resources. In
the period ahead, creative ways must be found to bring about change
in the present order of things.
were held with civil society groups including Trade Unions,
Religious Groups, and the Business Community to discuss the
political and economic situation facing the Country and to exchange
ideas on ways of solving the country’s problems.
These meetings have always been cordial and useful.
annual observances of the birth and death anniversaries of our
Founder Leader were held with the Georgetown District of the Party
assuming responsibility for planning and executing programmes and
projects associated with the two anniversaries.
The District has announced plans for the inauguration of the
Forbes Burnham Reading and Research Centre next year.
the absence of an international department or even a Desk Officer in
the Party’s Secretariat, the task of maintaining international
fraternal party ties and other international contacts has been
with the party’s United Kingdom Branch, continues to be strong and
effective. Membership is increasing and their quarterly contribution to
the Secretariat’s budget of six hundred (S600)
pounds Sterling is guaranteed.
I wish to take this opportunity to salute the Comrades in the
United Kingdom and record our Grateful thanks for their congress
message and financial contribution of five hundred (S500)
similar view I wish to salute our Comrades in the National Council
of Guyanese in Ottawa, Canada, whose contribution of one thousand
($1,000) Canadian dollars, is also gratefully acknowledged.
message of Solidarity to our congress from the International Liaison
Office of the Communist Party of China is also acknowledged.
Party wishes to record its thanks to the government and people of
the Republic of Cuba for the grant of three Scholarships tenable at
Universities in that sister Republic.
Two of these scholarships are for the study of Medicine and
the other for the study of Computer Engineering.
The three beneficiaries are
Leonard Da Costa -
congratulate them and wish them well.
the run up to the 2001 elections some comrades in the New York area
of the United States got together in an Organization called the
Guyana Institute of Democracy (GID) and did valuable work in
mobilizing material and other support for our campaign.
Some of the founder members of GID are with us at this
congress and I wish on behalf of the Party’s Leadership and all
Delegates and Observers present here to publicly thank them for
their support and efforts to Rescue and Rebuild our Country.
some former members of out Party now resident in the USA have
indicated interest in establishing a Party Group in the New York
Tristate area. Application
for membership forms have been dispatched to Ms Avril Bacchus one of
the organizers and I look forward very soon to having the official
registration of PNC/R New York group.
period through which we have come since the last Congress has been
one of disappointments and frustration for our party and its
were understandably low following the elections, which once again
brought disappointing results.
We have however, weathered the storm and thanks to the
blatantly inept, corrupt and discriminatory Governance of the PPP/C
a favourable climate for the resurgence of our Party has been
are challenged to take full advantage of the opportunity and
rededicate ourselves to the tasks, which this congress will set us.
road ahead will not be easy but I believe that we are equal to the
task if only we can adopt the words of our congress song
then we will not fail
rise in Victory
over the enemy