The political leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) should be doing some retrospection by now following its annual convention held last Sunday at the Grenville Secondary School in St. Andrew’s.
Congress has less than three years to fully prepare itself for another election battle against the governing New National Party (NNP) of current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who has demonstrated that he knows how to come up with a formula for winning at the polls.
As the NDC came out of its weekend gathering, two statements made by its Political Leader, Nazim Burke keep resonating with us.
In looking back, Mr. Burke referred to the fact that the NDC was handicapped in the last general elections by the bitter internal feuding that took place within Congress when a Rebel Group led by Peter David attempted to seize control of the party and government in the same way that the influential Bernard Coard and his OREL Group moved against Maurice Bishop within the New Jewel Movement (NJM) and the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).
Mr. Burke noted, “We are proud to say that while we lost the election, we were able to protect our two most critical assets – the NDC BRAND and our POLITICAL BASE”.
Towards the end of his speech, Mr. Burke hit the nail straight on the head when he indicated that the NDC needed to grow on the base in order to be combative and formidable in the next general elections.
He said: “….We must ensure that our constituency groups and working committees are properly constituted and functioning ….and that we actively seek to recruit growing numbers of Grenadians into our ranks”.
The NDC Political Leader did not address the critical question of how his party intends to address this very important issue because elections are won by numbers.
THE NEW TODAY will like to suggest to Mr. Burke and company that Congress not only needs to hold onto its “brand” but to actually do some “rebranding” in order to give itself a new image that can be sold to the Grenadian people.
It is time for the surgeon’s knife to get to work and remove some of the dead weights who can serve no useful purpose by trying to be always seen in the forefront of the Congress bandwagon.
It is time to separate the sheep from the goats and identify those
who have a penchant for hard work as opposed to those who only like to appear on the political platform to impress with nice clothing and pretty speeches.
This newspaper is not suggesting that these people should be totally cast aside but should be given roles in the Engine Room and not on top of the Deck of the boat where the people can see them as the face of the party.
The NDC needs to strategise in order to grow its base with a massive infusion of young people who can not only truly identify with the party but feel that they can join and see clearly before them a path that can allow them to walk along the route of upward mobility.
The young people must not feel that there is no room at the inn for them and that Congress is a club in which only certain persons are selected to hold onto certain positions within the party.
As a former student of the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS), Mr. Burke should be mindful of a line in the school song that was sung every morning about allowing those who labour to hold the reign.
There are too many persons close to the Congress leadership who have a history of not doing any political work but position themselves to get the nice-paying jobs if the party wins a general election.
Mr. Burke should also be mindful of the fact that the NNP targeted him at the last general elections and was able to successfully sell the electorate that Nazim-Mathematics was not working and that the “Old Driver” should be brought back since he can “deliver”.
The NDC can now argue that the “Old Driver” has delivered taxes and levies left right and centre on the backs of the people whose disposable income for spending in the country has been seriously eroded.
However, NDC and Mr. Burke will have to convince the people that a return to power by Congress will not see a return to the days of civil servants not knowing if there will be salaries for them at the end of the month.
Congress will have to sell a realistic plan to the people that will ease their nerves and fears on the critical question of their money at month end.
The NDC has not been able to fully explain to the people that the NNP has been able to pay salaries on time because of the many new burdensome taxes on the backs of the people plus the fact that unlike NDC, the Mitchell government is not making debt payments to a number of critical international creditors.
The IMF has been reminding the Mitchell administration that Grenada’s economy is still saddled with massive debts which needs to be serviced.
Mr. Burke should also be very mindful that Peter David and Chester Humphrey are not asleep and are highly motivated to ensure that NDC is destroyed as a party and never walk through the door that can lead to political power in this country.
The two are now in bed politically with a Prime Minister and Leader who is now only thinking about his legacy and that can mean the first man in the English-speaking Caribbean to win as many general elections by whatever means possible.
The NDC should never rule out the possibility that its enemies will seek to destroy its leadership in the same manner in which the NJM was able to successfully mount a sustained propaganda warfare against Sir Eric Gairy including the famous Sex Album which never existed.
Mr. Burke ought to understand the roles that can be played to keep him down by mischief makers – Brother Chess, Pedro, and Hamlet Mark and company who have now teamed up with a formidable traditional enemy whose war chest the NDC might never be able to match to fight an election.