One year ago the delegates at the convention of the National Democratic Congress overwhelmingly voted to vest leadership in the hands of Victor Nazim Burke.
It was a critical time in the life of the party. A crushing electoral defeat, following betrayal by a treacherous wing of its leadership dictated the need for a game changing moment. The hurt and pain lingered among the party faithful, but it was a time to move on. It was a time to rally and rebuild and so the party turned to Nazim.
It was a seamless transition. In spite of the desperate and very obvious attempts on the part of the ruling party and their new-found friends to keep alive the bogeyman of disunity the entire process was orderly.
With fraternal love, Tillman Thomas embraced his successor. The baton was passed.
Now, one year later, it is a good time to review how the party has fared under the leadership of Victor Nazim Burke.
In September 2012 the National Democratic Congress began the process of building unity when it expelled the cancerous wing of its membership that were actively colluding with the New
This was a necessary and painful amputation, but it was an act of self-preservation. In the months that followed, in spite of the electoral defeat, a certain buoyancy of spirit returned to the ranks of the NDC. The conflicting signals and contradictory public utterances ceased! This is a far cry from the embarrassment the party suffered when selfish and egotistic power seeking elements went to the public with narratives on casino gambling and ALBA that were at odds with the majority of the party.
The unity of the National Democratic Congress is being consolidated under the leadership of Nazim Burke. This will intensify as the party membership acts and works together and its spokes-persons continue to present a harmonized message to the public.
Maintaining Support Base
One of the most important prerequisites for the survival of a party is the maintenance of its support base. The National Democratic Congress has undoubtedly maintained its support base under the current leader. The evidence of this is the large number of persons who consistently show up at the Peoples’ Parliament public meetings all over Grenada and at other party events. And this factor constitutes a major source of frustration to the Project Grenada/One Party state ideologues who have publicly expressed their frustration that the opposition is too strong. In fact,the energy and vitality that flows through the crowds at these gatherings is not consistent with the profile of a party that lost an election two years ago. The NDC base is mobilised and confident!
Defending the Economic Gains of the People
Under the NNP during the last two years the Grenadian people have suffered an unprecedented erosion of their standard of living. The weight of the newly imposed taxes and duties is simply crushing and we have not yet experienced the social fallout of this. The full impact of these anti-people measures will continue to sink middle-income people into poverty and make a hell out of the lives of the poor and marginalised amongst us. This will include the twenty thousand young people who daily confront the soul-destroying demon of unemployment and are offered no hope by the Mitchell administration. This will include the single, unemployed mother who faces the daily nightmare of simply sending her children to school. This will include poor farmer, struggling to eke out an existence as his land taxes increase.
It is the National Democratic Congress under the leadership of Nazim Burke that has led the charge to defend the economic gains and standard of living of the Grenadian people. In the face of silence by certain civil society voices, Nazim Burke and the leadership of the NDC have been staunch in their resistance to these measures that undermine the very survival of the people. Through the interventions made by Mr. Burke and his highly informed team, whether in the media or in the Senate, the public was made to understand the truth about the dismal job creation record of the NNP administration, its failure to attract any significant new investment and its general lack of vision for moving Grenada forward.
Nazim Burke continues to be a credible and respected voice on economic issues not just locally, but among his peers in the region who have had the pleasure of working closely with him at CARICOM or at multilateral fora like the World Bank.
His wise and mature management of Grenada’s finances after thirteen years of the worst kind of NNP economic recklessness commends him well as a leader who has the capacity to steer the ship of state in a time of crisis.
Defending Democracy in Grenada
Democracy is under attack in Grenada. A commissioner of Police appointed by the Public Service Commission was sent packing within hours of the change of government. The independent office of the Supervisor of Elections is under threat. The efforts of the Supervisor of Elections, Judy Benoit, to protect her office from the attempt by Keith Mitchell to compromise the security of the office’s information system resulted in her dismissal. In flagrant disrespect for the country’s constitutional norms and in a display of utter contempt for our legal fraternity Mitchell tried to impose Gregory Bowen into the post of Attorney General.
Coming on the heels of these outrageous acts the Mitchell administration has been trying to ram a constitutional reform process down the throats of the population and lock out the views of thousands of Grenadians who have put forward well thought out legitimate recommendations. It was the NDC under its present leader that raised the level of debate on this matter first, through his national address and subsequently through coordinated struggle by party spokespersons at the national consultations at the Trade Centre. This was followed by the presentation of a petition with more than four thousand names, calling for the government to change its approach.
This is a struggle which continues and is one that the Grenadian people cannot afford to lose. Too much is at stake.
Reaching out to Stakeholders
The new leader of the National Democratic Congress firmly believes in networking. This is bourne out by the fact that within his short stint at the helm of the party he has personally sat down to meetings with several interest groups and civil society organizations to exchange views and share information on national issues. These groups include the clergy, the trade unions, representatives of the teaching and nursing professions, farmers representatives, the business community and others.
It should be emphasized, however, that the consultative, networking approach is nothing new to Nazim Burke. This was the template he used so well while running the Ministry of Finance and driving through important reforms in the financial governance of Grenada and in the success of his Doing Business reforms.
His capacity to listen and understand and work as part of a team is one of his special attributes. He is patient and committed to seeing things through.
Nazim the Man
Nazim is a family man. He and his wife, Jacky, have done an excellent job of bringing up two brilliant sons, both of them achievers. He maintains close contact with his mother in Carriacou, whom he visits quite regularly.
Nazim understood quite early that education is the way for people of humble circumstance to lift themselves out of poverty. This is why he invested heavily in his own education, both in economics and law. In this way, he is a role model for Grenada’s young people.
He is also a man of faith. He bears no bitterness towards those who so viciously attacked his character during the last elections campaign and continue to do so out of fear for his capabilities as a leader. He fellowships weekly in different congregations across his constituency and the nation.
His compassion for the poor and suffering runs deep as he can be seen walking through the communities in his Heart to Heart visits and his weekly visits to the hospital offering comforting words to the sick.
Victor Nazim Burke accepted the challenge to lead because he believes Grenada can do better. He is driven by a profound belief in Self-Reliance. This is the message he is bringing to Grenada.
In the coming year Nazim Burke and his team will work to fine tune and articulate his message of self-reliance as they engage with the people of Grenada to position themselves as the viable alternative to the current administration.