Following Desmond Hoyte’s leadership of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Guyana Presidency following the death of Forbes Burnham in 1985, he embarked on a program to overturn the latter’s socialist policies and to clean up the Burnhamites’ party and Government.
He avoided David Granger as commander of the Army by bringing in Joe Singh of the Guyana National Service. Singh was a junior to Granger. Granger has consistently praised Burnham’s socialist policies and vowed to “fulfill his legacy”.
However, when the 18th anniversary of the PNC Reformation commemorated the death of its late leader and former President of Guyana, Hugh Desmond Hoyte on Tuesday, he was called a “champion of change” by Granger, now current leader and former President.
“Desmond Hoyte’s emphasis on ideological and political change has not been lost. He understood the inevitability of change just as the Founder-Leader did a generation earlier: not as a tool of self-enrichment or self-aggravation, but of the rise of the party and the happiness of the people. He was a champion of change, ”Granger noted.
He reminded that the late President and founder of PNC, Burnham, was always concerned about the changing conditions in the country and the party’s response to contemporary challenges. He said that the transfer of the PNC in favor of the Opposition to one in Government required a change of leadership and stewardship, and Burnham saw it in Hoyte.
“It was from this realization that Forbes appointed Burnham – understanding the quality of intellectual integrity of the man who would be Leader and President – Desmond Hoyte to a series of important portfolios. Forbes Burnham saw the need for change after the first term of office ended with the 1968 General Elections, and Guyana was ready to embark on a course to become a republic. Most Ministers changed from that first cohort (”),” Granger noted.
Hoyte was appointed to the key portfolios of the Minister of Home Affairs (1969-1970), the Minister of Finance (1970-1972), and the Minister of Works and Communications (1972-1974). Subsequently, his appointments focused on the economy, as Minister of Economic Development in 1974-1980 and Vice President of Economic Planning and Finance after the 1980 General Elections. He was re-appointed Vice President of Production in 1983.
Following the resignation of Dr Ptolemy Reid as Prime Minister in 1984, Burnham appointed Hoyte to fill the vacancy. The following year, after Burnham died, Hoyte succeeded him as President, and was formally elected to the post of President in the 1985 General Elections.
Granger explained that Hoyte, who had already been in Government for 17 years, understood the need for change, and embarked on the country’s economic transformation during his seven-year presidency, from 1985 to 1992.
“Desmond Hoyte was elected Party Leader at the Sixth Biennial Congress of Congress in August 1985, but as a presidential candidate he was unsuccessful at three successive General and Regional Elections: in 1992, 1997, and 2001. He was repeatedly re-elected a time as Party Leader from 1992 to 2002 (within) a decade of disharmony when dissent undermined the authority of the Leader and divided party unity.
“The 18-year anniversary of Desmond Hoyte’s death, which the party now commemorates, reminds us of his last address to the 13th Biennial Congress of Representatives in 2002, four months before his death. It was an unintentional epilogue, or perhaps I should say an epitaph, to his political career. It was a warning of the danger of dismissal and an aspiration to understand the need for change at the beginning of this millennium. In that direction, he used the word ‘change’ 21 times, ”said the PNCR Leader.
PNCR Chairman Volda Lawrence asked Hoyte to be the ideal statesman, who was highly regarded and undoubtedly one of Guyana’s most respected sons.
He said that his appreciation of poetry, together with his economic acumen, had enhanced his life and set him apart from being indelibly etched in the annals of Guyanese history ”.