by Claudette Joseph
The recent uncovering of the shocking and unconscionable abuse of government cellphone services by known NNP activists and loyalists, has brought the level of mismanagement of public resources by the ruling administration into sharp focus.
Grenada is now at a place where misfeasance by our elected officials and their appointed loyalists is happening in plain sight. It is critical that the people of Grenada demonstrate their understanding that this state of affairs hurts the country. We all must speak up and act up.
The current holder of the office of Prime Minister has presided over the abuse and misuse public assets from his entry into the Parliament of Grenada in 1984. This is a matter of historic record.
The Worrell Commission of Inquiry investigated 6 state-owned companies and statutory bodies for mismanagement and wrongdoing during the period 1985-1989. All of them were under Dr Mitchell’s Ministry of Communication and Works. The commission found it “remarkable” that the authorities did not refer to the police for investigation, the disappearance of items from those bodies and entities (page 99 of the report).
During that same period 1985-1989, the Government and people of Grenada owned an airplane, ‘the Bandarante’, acquired by the PRG. That asset was under the control of Dr Mitchell’s ministry and disappeared without a trace. No one was held accountable.
When Dr Mitchell became Prime Minister in 1995, the clouds grew even darker.
His first act was to begin the systemic dismantling of the Public Service. Richard Duncan in his book Walking the Straight & Narrow (1996), relates how within months of becoming Prime Minister, Dr Mitchell made it clear at a staff meeting at the Ministry of Finance that: “…no matter how dedicated and committed an officer is, and no matter how hardworking and respected the officer might be, once there is no trust then there is nothing doing.” By ‘trust’, the public officers understood Dr Mitchell to mean loyalty.
In short order, outstanding public servants like Richard Duncan, Nolan Murray, Basil Harford, Julia Lawrence and others were out. Basil Harford later revealed how Mitchell told him “ah have a feeling you don’t support me” and that was enough for Harford to get the axe.
Mitchell took millions of our money and pumped it into a private business owned and operated by his family. That business, Call Centres Grenada, was supposed to pay back our money which Dr Mitchell said was a loan. That was Dr Mitchell’s promise in parliament. Mitchell’s relative and the Russian crook, Lev Model ran that business to the ground and the people lost millions.
The corruption and maladministration have been well documented throughout Mitchell’s tenure. From $25m wasted in the Garden Group fiasco to $18.5m (US$6.9) on the ill-fated chicken farm in St Mark. Now we have the shrimp farm debacle, in St Mark again.
Since 2013, virtually everything is done in the dark and treated as top secret, including our oil and gas resources. With no parliamentary oversight, this works well for Mitchell.
His dangerous habit of victimising public officers, who he perceives as not loyal, has intensified over the years. Public servants, afraid of being victimised, are cowered into silence. The Prime Minister must have been taunting them when he said at a recent town hall meeting in Montreal: “No politician can touch you for doing your work”. With his long history and the recent examples of Judy Benoit, Gemma Bain-Thomas, Willan Thompson and others, he must know that public servants know better.
Well-meaning public officers are paralysed by the parasites feeding on us and cowered into turning a blind eye to the corrupt practices of the NNP. The others are either loyal to or part of the cabal.
Public officers are paralysed and the rest of the nation sat silently while:
- Between 2013 and 2018, Mitchell paid 3 MPs ministers’ salaries even though they were not ministers. At a monthly take home pay of $8,000, between the 3 of them, that cost us $1,440,000.
- All manner of political associates take gas freely at the Central Police Station, while the rest of us were paying $16 or more a gallon.
- Social safety net programmes became so political in delivery and distribution, that beneficiaries now believe that help comes from the NNP coffers.
- Parliamentary Constituency offices became NNP election campaign offices. So that while the opposition NDC was raising funds to meet its expenses, taxpayers paid the rent and utilities for the campaign offices of NNP candidates.
Now the cellphone scandal is public, people seem awakened. I hope this is not just another 8-day wonder.
At $26,000 a month for Sheldon Scott’s bill alone, we can take a safe bet that most of that went towards NNP’s operations. Yes people, you are funding the operations of the NNP. In such an environment, how levelled is the playing field between NNP and the other political parties?
There is only one way to end this madness. We have got to vote out Dr Mitchell and his cabal for good.