by JK Roberts
Whether or not the prolonged calls are justifiable that Nazim Burke should not be the political leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), it would be pitiful if the real intention of the initiation and invigoration of those calls is escaped.
To miss the political ploy which has been propagated not merely to debase Burke, but to destroy the NDC and to debilitate any political opposition in Grenada, is to succumb to the thrust toward eroding the democratic sovereignty gained by the tremendous struggles and sacrifices of the labour and political pioneers, and to enter into a new governance dimension which can be a nightmare experience for the nation.
Grenada has undergone extensive political ploys of concoction and deceit in the past, in the quest to gain, or to regain, and to enjoy political power as well as to demonise persons, but resulting in it having an ugly history of polarities, conflicts, brutalities and fatalities. The society has been in havoc and horror, individuals have been ostracised and incarcerated, opposition forces have been suppressed and executed, governments have been overthrown and political parties have been disintegrated. Unconscionably; the constitutional provisions and national institutions have been abused, and particularly the elections process has been fouled to produce fraudulent results. Review the previously internet-circulated article, “Could Grenada’s 2018 voting be declared unethical and illegal?”; as it assesses the telling observations, grave concerns and significant recommendations in relation to the conduct of the elections.
Although securing no parliamentary seat in the recent 2 consecutive general elections, the NDC has been recognised as the de facto political opposition in Grenada. It is critical however that the party senses the ever-evolving and radically-challenging political environment, and to respond accordingly so as to be the ‘dominant determinant’ in setting the right agenda for the genuine development and preservation of the nation. The most practical mode of engagement for NDC is ‘constructive negotiations’; capitalising on its position and capacity to accomplish productive compromises. The NDC still has an excellent opportunity to be powerful and relevant, which must not be wasted and lost. Also review the internet article “Grenada’s No Parliamentary Opposition: A None Issue!” as it points out that a main political party without a seat in the parliament, can be mighty by monitoring the operations of the government, marshalling the people, and mounting its plans and projects as alternatives for the nation.
There is a level of favoured consideration which regional and international bodies placed on a main (or a de facto) opposition party, and in many cases these bodies seek consultations with that party. Apart from enjoying this honour, the NDC has a ‘valuable carrot or advantage’ to support its negotiations and demands; this lies in the strength and vibrancy and resolve of its core followers. Moreover; it would be reasonable to think that NDC represents not only the more than 20,000 electors who voted for the party in the last elections, but also represents at least half of the over 20,000 electors who did not vote. However; it is vitally important that NDC does not disappoint and betray the citizens, especially those who are depending for direction and are hopeful for betterment. Thus, the “good governance” principles, as well as the “putting people first” theme of NDC, must be elevated in its negotiations and representations on the priority issues and eager expectations of Grenadians.
To be effective with this new approach of constructive negotiations, the NDC needs to be strategically focused but with being educated and equipped, and having expert working committees. Naturally tending to be politically demoralised from the terrible showings in 2 consecutive elections, NDC can now be easily destabilised and overwhelmed by its various internal advises and debates, by the massive governance problems in the nation and by the external bombardment with the calls for the change of party leadership. Particularly, NDC should never allow itself to be conned and cornered, or even to be caressed, by the ruling New National Party (NNP), and thereby makes careless decisions and then be humiliated. Rather; more than ever before, the NDC must be politically astute, bold and conscious, and must never be wavering to present concrete counter-proposals to the government. Thus when the government tends to seek bipartisan consensus on momentous national issues then the NDC must use the opportunity to hold the government committed to the principles of accountability, transparency, rule of law, and delivering efficient and effective public services.
A topical issue of the government and the high-status establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is the accession of Grenada to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final court of appeal. In no way must the NDC cooperate blindly and unrewardingly on this issue, and without presenting some preconditions. In fact, there would never be in the near future such a ‘high-stake and high-quality’ issue of government which requires the input of an opposition, especially to meet the two-thirds threshold in a referendum. At least 2 broad areas of preconditions must be placed on the table for negotiations; they are about institutional governance and socio-economic prosperity. With all objective thinking and selfless sympathy on the prevalent troubling local conditions of the people, acceding to the regional CCJ now would only be a luxury for the privileged; definitely this move is not of any immediate necessity. Therefore, for the NDC to abide this ‘social lopsidedness’, will be to abandon the poor and helpless people and their painful cries, and at the same time will be shooting itself in the foot.
For the NDC-opposition to declare unreserved partnership with the NNP-government to give a yes-vote to the CCJ Bill would be having the NDC legitimising the mal-administration, including the alleged corrupt practices by the government. It would also mean endorsing the alleged fraudulent manner by which the electoral office had conducted the 13 March 2018 elections and thereby denying the party any parliamentary seats. Would passing the CCJ Bill enhance national governance, which also speaks about the integrity of the electoral system so as to elevate an opposition in parliament? Particularly, would the CCJ cause genuine and thorough implementation of the official recommendations for pertinent changes to the Representation of the People Act, and to reflect regulations for campaign financing, as well as for the meaningful constitutional reform to reflect proportional representation and the recall of parliamentarians for accountability? Could the CCJ bring local government to the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique which they are being robbed; even though provided for in the 1974 Constitution?
Are the policies and projects raised in the NDC’s 2018 elections manifesto secondary to the CCJ issue; noting the party’s plan to “establish a Constituent Assembly to complete the reform of the existing constitution”? Emphatically, there is no doubt that once the government gets its way of success with the CCJ, Grenadians will be doomed and never to see any serious effort to have constitutional reform to reflect their sovereignty and empowerment but would have a consolidation of the NNP and the One Party State. NDC needs to be in the forefront and forthrightly declare its stance on this second attempt of a constitutional referendum; the party would be a coward if it sends indirect and confused messages to its followers, as was in the first occasion, which also helped to register the low percentage voting on 24 November 2016. Review both previous articles “Grenada Constitution Reform: Voting With Conscience” and “Grenada Constitution Reform: NDC Speak Up!”, highlighting the political game on the reform.