by Norris Mitchell
This article was intended to put the spotlight on the 30 odd years of the NNP neocolonial governance and its record of mismanagement and underdevelopment of Grenada.
Listen to Michael Baptiste’s recent exposé on WhatsApp on the Prime Minister and Anthony Boatswain also on Pastor Stanford Simon and Emmalim Pierre – when on the TV evening news broadcast on Wednesday, 15 April 2020, the Hon. Tobias Clement appeared as Leader of The Opposition, having been sworn in by the Governor-General a few days earlier in accordance with the Grenada Constitution.
In his opening remarks to the Grenadian public, he made the historic pronouncement that he has “a democracy to save”. This profound statement, in my view, is a rallying call to all patriotic Grenadians to join in the rescue mission of restoring our fractured democracy. The following scenario is an attempt to provide the Opposition Leader with a TEMPLATE of the enormous and challenging task ahead, and that to remain focused is a sine qua non for success.
In most if not all democracies, governments are elected by the people in free and fair elections to represent their interests and to advocate on their behalf in a house of representatives (parliament), in achieving pertinent objectives for the wellbeing of a progressive State (country) as reflected in its policies and programmes for people’s empowerment and advancement. In other words, they are the “honourable” servants of the people, not the other way around, as now obtains.
These policies and programmes find concrete expression through independent democratic institutions of the state, such as The Public Service Commission, the Parliamentary Elections Office, the Police, the Judiciary and the Physical Planning Unit (PPU) together with other implementing ministries, for example, Health, Education, Sanitation, Public Works and Labour. In the case of Education and Labour, organisations called unions, manage their day to day operations in providing critical service to their members and the nation in protecting their human rights which complements those of the state as buttresses of democracy, (echoes of the denied 25% gratuity and pension).
When all of these organisations are working in harmony with each other, peace, stability and productivity are assured and the country prospers. Coronavirus apart, any conscientious Grenadian observer who is concerned with the state of (political) affairs in Grenada today, as experienced by the ordinary Grenadian, would come to only one conclusion: That what is being provided as governance is woefully deficient with the mismanagement and the inequitable distribution of our resources in the 3rd decade of the 21st century.
After considering from whence we came namely, the middle passage, slavery, indentureship, crown colony, colonialism, statehood and “political” independence, the quality of which needs serious reflection and ideological analysis, as compared with 5 or 6 decades ago, when the self-governing people of the anglophone Caribbean seemed to have had a vision for a Caribbean civilisation in the blossoming of a West Indian Federation which was scuttled by Norman Manly of Jamaica and Eric Williams of Trinidad in 1962, and is now substituted by individual MASSA governments, in a take it or leave it dispensation.
Grenada is a good example of MASSA governance, a creolese expression for black Caribbean neo-colonialism where “power corrupts and absolute power, corrupts absolutely”. This statement by one of Britain’s early parliamentarians seems to fit exactly the current Grenadian political experience: A Prime Minister for over 20 years and his government which has been in office for over 30 years, could not be more applicable; an egocentric mentality where “all man for himself” in a region where we prefer to sink individually instead of a UNITED anglophone presence (much more than Caricom) to offset the vulnerability of “smallness” on the global stage (a Mia Mottley approach).
Even before the arrival of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Health, as the record would show, is the most dysfunctional of government services: Chronic shortages of basic necessities exist, and being hospitalised has become a death sentence. Now that we have to cope with the virus, the unfolding events leave us with uncertain hope for imminent recovery, but recovery will come through our Grenadian resilience – God’s willing.
Next in line, in my view, is the decay of our islandwide physical infrastructure – the Molinere Public Road disaster crippling transportation on the western side of the island, readily comes to mind, with the rubber stamp approach by the Physical Planning Unit (PPU) of the Ministry of Finance of which Dr Mitchell is the Minister for Planning & Infrastructure and the dubious and questionable manner in granting building approvals, especially for large projects which always appear to be in conflict with the Building Laws of Grenada and consequently with the eco-system and the environment. Silver Sands Hotel and the “proposed” 6 Senses Hotel in La Sagasse are salient examples. Let’s hope that the reactivated Natural and Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee (NCHAC) of the Physical Planning Unit would be allowed to keep its eyes open and its recommendations heeded regarding another 3 proposed hotels (not factories) which the Egyptian “developer” intends to construct on Grenadian property bought from a so-called British developer for cheap without a black penny going into the treasury.
The failure by the Ministry of Legal Affairs and by extension the Government of Grenada to provide adequate and appropriate building accommodation for the judiciary as required by the constitution in dispensing JUSTICE, especially for the ordinary Grenadian and to the poor, the elderly and mentally challenged. This is an ongoing scenario over many decades which sad to say, does not appear to signal a satisfactory resolution in the near future. The hijacking of our independent democratic institutions such as the Public Service Commission and the Parliamentary Election process is (also) disturbing and objectionable examples of MASSA governance in a ONE PARTY visionless government intent on monopolising political power. Where is the “energised” but muted NDC in all of this?
Although not as apparent as in the above cases, the neglect of our history and cultural heritage, which are the underpinning of our identity and national persona is of major concern: The decay of our Public Library building with its invaluable historic records, in an independent and sovereign Grenada; York House, Fort George, Government House, and the disfigurement of the Market Square does not appear to be part of the NNP development strategy if there is one; while the Ministry of Culture appears to have transferred its function to the Ministry of Tourism, who is mainly concerned in selling “PURE GRENADA,” through the Grenada Tourism Authority and the selling of Grenadian passports through the CBI dysfunctional, some say corrupt, instruments.
A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister gathered his ministers and permanent secretaries to a confab, at which he bemoaned, what he described as the IMPLEMENTATION DEFICIT. This deficit in the region of about 40% completion, reflects the low rate of production due to the lack of unutilised skilled (professional) labour and commitment, and in some cases for the same reasons, the non-starter of projects – that are funded by grants or soft loans as provided in the budget.
This national embarrassment is not too difficult to explain – when the Prime Minister, not the Public Service Commission whose constitutional function is to appoint public servants on merit to appropriate positions, has been hijacked, by putting square pegs in key positions (sycophants) in order to do his biddings, which very often are inimical to the national interest, resulting in raising the “incompetence index” in the man-power provided, and is also reflected in the bidding process for building contracts which is tilted in favour of NNP operatives.
The above template which is not exhaustive gives the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to contemplate his strategy and method of approach in neutralising or more importantly replacing an organisation which has not served the overall interest and advancement of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique after so many years in office.
Let us hope and pray that this is the beginning of a new process in the dispensation of “a democracy to save.”
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