The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has begun to put its supporters in an election mood.
The party which is seeking to regain State Power which it lost to its main rival party, the New National Party (NNP), four years ago is on the campaign trail putting forward its platform issues to the electorates for the upcoming poll.
During a pocket meeting held at Radix Junction in Mt. Parnassus, St. George’s, political leader of Congress, Senator Nazim Burke said Grenada is entering a very critical stage in its history as it is about to face a crucial general elections.
“This general elections that is coming is going to be one of the most important general elections in the history of our country,” he said.
Sen. Burke believes the poll will boil down to be a referendum on the legacy of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The Congress Leader said the fact of the matter is that Dr. Mitchell after 21 years as a government minister and 17 years as Prime Minister there is still a situation in the country where over 50 percent of the young people who are able and willing to work cannot find employment.
“After 17 years as Prime Minister what has Dr. Mitchell done for the young people of our country? After 17 years as Prime Minister what has Dr. Mitchell done for the health system in our country? After 17 years as Prime Minister what has Dr. Mitchell done for the development of agriculture? What has Dr. Mitchell done for developing our tourism product? What has he done to protect our National Heritage?” he asked.
Sen. Burke accused the Mitchell-led administration of selling the country’s national Heritage including the local passport “as fishcakes in the streets.”
He feared that the selling of Grenada’s passports as part of the Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBI) poses a security risk for the country.
“In a world of terrorism when people are moving from one part of the world to another and targeting countries, we must ensure that every single passport that is given to any person does not land in the hands of a terrorist. We cannot afford to make one mistake,” he said.
According to Sen. Burke, Congress will take the various issues to the people in the various villages to ensure that they understand why the main opposition political party believes that NNP is no longer good for Grenada, and why the NDC represents the best choice for the country.
He sought to assure the people that Congress is not interested in making empty statements but that whatever is said will be justified.
“We must come forward and tell you what are the right policies, what are the better policies, and what prescription we are putting forward as an alternative government,” he said.
At present the country is divided by the colours of the main two parties, which Sen. Burke said a Congress Government will break.
“We will put an end to the green and yellow hating each other. We will put an end to the situation where if you happen to be yellow you cannot get a work, and if you happen to be yellow your children can’t get a scholarship, and if you happen to be yellow you can’t get a position in the Imani,” he said.
President of the Women’s Arm, Jenny Simon accused the NNP of victimisation of people who do not support the ruling party.
Simon who is also the party’s Deputy Chairperson encouraged the people to get registered with the Parliamentary Elections Office, which will enable them to vote against nepotism, and to resist corruption, poverty, victimisation, and tribalism.
She told them when they participate in the next general elections they will be voting against tribalism, victimisation, poor health care, and corruption, and for better health care, equality and education for all, and good governance, accountability, and transparency.
“For too long the NNP Regime has kept our people uneducated so that they can keep us on our knees with our hands outstretched begging for a five dollars, begging for a tube of gas, begging to reconnect their electricity and their water,” she said.
The top female executive member of Congress called for the people of Grenada to be educated so that they can learn “to fish” and don’t keep their hands outstretched waiting for a fish.
Simon who is Congress spokesperson on health reported that in the months of November and December 2016 there were a number of deaths of mothers with babies, and for the month of January alone, four young mothers lost their babies.
She spoke of Grenada having gone through 13 years of corruption under NNP.
“Who would have thought that in bringing back the NNP in office that we were bringing back corruption?” she asked.
Simon spoke of Congress having values that include honesty, integrity, transparency, accountability, self-respect, tolerance, patriotism, equality, justice and good governance.
“The NDC can promise you to build a prosperous Grenada. A prosperous Grenada based on environmentally sound principles, and a just and equitable society… a society of fairness and justice for all,” she said.
Caretaker/Candidate for the Constituency of St. David’s, Adrian “Persuader” Thomas who also addressed the Pocket meeting believes that “things are heating up” in the country.
Thomas who defended the attacks being launched on the Congress Political Leader warned that every time they “light the fire on our Political Leader we will out it.”
NNP insiders have said that the party intends to concentrate a large portion of its resources to ensure that Burke fails to take back the seat from the incumbent, Tobias Clement.
Thomas told the people of St. George’s North East that they have a golden opportunity before them to have the next Prime Minister of the country coming from the area in the person of Sen. Burke.
“If you don’t make good use, people of Radix, if you don’t make maximum use of a gentleman who can put his talent on the line for you… a gentleman who can offer himself to you to be the next Prime Minister, the people in the Constituency of St. David’s will take up the mantle and make him the Prime Minister,” he said.
Thomas described Sen. Burke as someone who as Prime Minister will be respected by the entire Caribbean as he is not someone associated with any briefcase scandal.
“You will have a Prime Minister in this country that when you call his name it will not attract crooks and conmen,” he said.
Investigative journalist, David Marchant had claimed in a report published in Miami that Dr. Mitchell had collected US$500, 000.00 as a bribe from imprisoned fraudster, Eric Resteiner in St. Moritz, Switzerland in a briefcase in exchange for a diplomatic position.
PM Mitchell has consistently denied the allegation, saying that he collected “approximately US$15, 000.00” as reimbursement from Resteiner to cover the cost of a trip.
The senior NDC Member told the public meeting that for the next general election Prime Minister Mitchell and the NNP will be under the microscope with an examination of the Imani Programme, and the investors who have come to Grenada.
The pocket meeting was graced with the presence of former NNP activist, Samuel “Bosco” George who made some startling revelations.
George claimed that when the NNP took office in 2013 the country lost a number of benefits.
He said under the “Energy for the Poor” programme Grenada lost just over $17M in one project, and another $7M for a project for farmers in St. Patrick’s.
George told the gathering that as a member of NNP prior to the 2013 general election, he had believed what was being told about Sen. Burke by his opponents in an effort to discredit him.
“Now I hear the truth, the truth has set me free,” he remarked.
This is clear reference to the rumour mongering that Burke had built several houses on assuming the post of Minister of Finance in 2008 and had used the position to lower the cost of building material to benefit construction of the houses and raised the tax when the houses were completed.
The NDC leader won a default judgment in a case he brought against NNP activist, Ian Edwards who had used a paid political programme on a local FM station to make these allegations against Sen. Burke.
George who is from the Constituency of St. David’s endorsed Sen. Burke as the person to become the next Prime Minister of Grenada after the upcoming general election.
He said having been an active member of the NNP for 33 years, and voting on seven occasions for the ruling party in St. David, he would have killed anyone in defense of the party and Dr. Mitchell.
“Today I’m converted. I’m born again. As a full member of the NDC I am giving all my support to the NDC under the leadership of Brother V (Victor) Nazim Burke,” he said.
The former NNP Member accused high-ranking members of the ruling party of indulging in the break up of marriages, destroying families and breaking up homes.
“We have seen (them) abusing our women,” he said.
“Let us choose a party that has love for people and love for country, not love for power and love for money, a party that loves and respects the women of our country, and not abuse the women of our country,” he added.
Caretaker/Candidate for the Constituency of Carriacou and Petit Martinique, Tevin Andrew appealed to the people of St. George’s North East to return the Congress representative to government.
In his brief presentation, Andrew encouraged the people of Radix to throw their full support and weight behind Sen. Burke who had represented them in the Halls of Parliament on two occasions.
“He (Sen. Burke) is your man for the area. He has a plan to take Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique forward. He has a plan to take this constituency forward. He has done it before, and he will do it again,” he said.
The Carriacou and Petit Martinique Congress Caretaker/Candidate indicated that everyone can see the affairs of the nation are in a terrible condition due to NNP rule.
He described the NNP Administration of Prime Minister Mitchell as being an abusive husband with Grenada being the abused woman.
Andrew said Grenada being the abusive woman is being beaten with a series of taxes, lies, and victimisation.
Congress has consistently told the nation that since returning to office in 2013, NNP has introduced 28 new taxes, fees and levies.
Prime Minister Mitchell was forced to embark upon a Structural Adjustment Programme with oversight from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to grapple with a severe fiscal imbalance brought on by a crippling EC$2.7 billion dollar national debt.