Lord Acton, one of the best-known historians and scholars of that era, is best known for the remark in a letter to an Anglican bishop in 1887, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
The continuing actions of the Prime Minister, Dr. Keith C. Mitchell gives credence to this quote, since Grenada appears to be displaying a galloping tendency by the NNP, with its absolute majority in Parliament, towards ‘absolute corruption’.
Corruption is used in its classicist sense to mean “the use of powers by Government Officials for illegitimate private gain. Corruption is used to refer to where an illegal act by an Office Holder is directly related to their official duties, or is done under color of law, or involves trading in influence.
Before anyone begins to shout foul, let me state that this is nothing but ‘fair public comment’.
The Grenada Prime Minister maintains an iron grip on the Royal Grenada Police Force, the result of which is a lack of independence by our law enforcement agency.
The ‘Fifth Estate’, long a bastion of resistance to authoritarianism is now a shadow of its former self, with so many of its stalwarts all but surrendering to the seductions of a ‘few shillings more’, rather than face the sure starvation that emerges from the “scorched earth policy” of the NNP, led by the Prime Minister himself.
The Civil Service, has ceased being allowed to serve the ‘public interest’ and has been so ‘arranged’ and ‘re-arranged’ as an instrument of NNP Partisan design, that it now maintains much distance from the ‘public service’ that it was intended to be.
The Trade Union Movement, has witnessed its main ‘torch bearer’, ‘cash-in’ this once revered position, for a surer ‘pay-day’, for Wig, Robe and a plumb position as President of the Senate – just when the workers needed him most.
The situation in Grenada today truly leaves the Judiciary and some legal practitioners, as one of the few remaining bastions of objective resistance and independence in our society today. But this also makes this group, of lawyers many of them eminent, the next likely target of absolutism whether by infiltration or seduction.
An understanding of the nature of absolute power is central to digesting information reaching the public that Prime Minister Mitchell, intends to break with Convention practiced in similar manner in virtually all Caribbean jurisdictions and determine for the legal fraternity, who it should recommend for the cherished award of Queens Counsel (QC).
Having played a hero’s innings in destroying our public institutions, its morale and any semblance of promotion reward based on merit, it appears that Prime Minister Mitchell now appears set to interfere in one of the few remaining institutions that has the audacity to present an independent front.
If it is true that Prime Minister Mitchell is successful in breaking with convention and with a Protocol which he himself would have previously conformed to, along with other OECS Heads, where a “Silk Committee’ is established, from which recommendations on deserving lawyers in private practice emanates, then the independence of the legal fraternity as we know it in Grenada would be at an end.
Leaving the matter of the qualifications of the two gentlemen being promoted by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet aside, though reasonable minds would no doubt raise rational questions in this regard, the central issue remains the flagrant disregard to process and the convenient ‘side-stepping’ of rules, norms, and conventions by the Prime Minister, whenever and wherever it is convenient for him to do so.
This pattern of conduct is a recognised trait of authoritarian regimes and would-be dictators.
The Grenada Bar Association will be on trial on this one, and the Court of public opinion is composed on not only of partisan combatants and sympathisers from the “Greenery’ and the ‘Congress’, but also the thousands of young Grenadians who are aspiring professionals and who still dare to believe in a Grenada which upholds standards and the rule of law, and conventions that they can still one day be proud of.
Also in the Jury of public opinion, must be every single Grenadian who effuses any sense of patriotism. Indeed, all of us must hold ourselves collectively responsible for allowing these creeping tendencies of authoritarianism to mushroom and grow from tributaries to streams now into a flowing river of authoritarianism.
Will the Grenada Bar Association dam this gushing river of authoritarianism, before it flows into an ocean that corrupts all that is pure and good and true, or will the ‘Bar’ slink from this moment and allow the insatiable march towards absolutism by the Prime Minister and his ‘facilitators’ to continue without ‘check or balance’ or ‘resistance’?