President of the Women’s Arm of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Jenny Simon has taken issue with a call from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell for his governing New National Party (NNP) to be judged in the upcoming election campaign only on its performance in office over the past four years.
During his address to party faithful at the NNP convention rally at Telescope, St. Andrew’s late last month, Dr. Mitchell said the campaign will not just be on the party’s legacy, but will be on its “sterling record” of performance in the last four years.
He said the electorate will not be called upon to vote for the NNP over what would have happened 20 or 15 years ago.
“Judge us… on what we have done and achieved in the last four years,” he told the gathering.
This is obvious reference to the good grades given to the NNP administration by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) on its handling of the so-called self-imposed Structural Adjustment Programme to arrest a severe fiscal deficit.
In its earlier rule between 1995-2008, Mitchell and his NNP governments were often criticised for engaging in heavy borrowing at high commercial interest rates to finance a number of questionable development projects.
The island’s debt stock skyrocketed from EC$373 million in June 1995 to EC$1.8 billion by the time the NNP was voted out in the 2008 general election.
During the weekly NDC Radio Heartbeat Programme last Sunday, Simon challenged Dr. Mitchell to first provide some explanations on a number of issues before the nation can forget the past.
She said one has to ask why Dr. Mitchell and the NNP want the people of Grenada to forget the past.
Simon who also serves as Congress’ Deputy Chairperson told her listenership there are so many reasons why the people should not forget from where they came.
She said if one were to listen to the NNP, one would swear that Grenada was born in 2008, forgetting that NNP held office from 1995 to 2008.
“If there is one person to blame for where we are today in this deep, dark place is Dr. Mitchell… Dr. Mitchell wants us to forget the checkered past of him and the NNP,” she remarked.
Simon reminded the radio audience of the number of people who posed as foreign investors and ran off with millions of dollars that were provided to them as guarantees by the Mitchell Administration in past
“Dr. Mitchell and the NNP want you to forget men like EJ Miller, a gentleman who came in here and posed as an investor without a cent. He was given the land in Mt. Hartman, taken from the farmers… and given to EJ Miller freehold… and when he got the land, he then had the Government of Grenada, Dr. Mitchell and his bunch guarantee a loan of about US $20M for him to build a five-star hotel. He drew down the money, the US $20M and left Grenada with his daughters,” she said.
Party Leader of Congress, Senator Nazim Burke who also added his voice to the upcoming General Elections referred to it as being a referendum while noting that it is a most important election for the country.
“This particular election is going to be a referendum on the legacy of Dr. Keith Claudius Mitchell… It’s going to be a verdict of the people on what he has done for Grenada, and what he has planned to do for Grenada, what he has done for the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique,” he said.
Sen. Burke charged that there is a feeling within NNP that the people of Grenada will accept whatever they do.
“The management of a country is serious business,” he said, while noting that Dr. Mitchell has served the NNP as its Political Leader for the past 28 years, has been a Member of Parliament in Grenada for 32 consecutive years, and Prime Minister of the country for 18 of the last 23 years.
As part of his legacy, Prime Minister Mitchell is seeking to win his 5th term in office in the poll that some analysts have predicted can come between May and June for the earliest.
NNP insiders have told this newspaper that the party has virtually identified all its 15 candidates for the poll with former Congress General Secretary and Ex-foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David earmarked for the Town of St. George constituency.
The incumbent, Nicholas Steele, the Minister of Health, will be switched to the South St. George constituency to contest the seat instead of former Tourism Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel.