Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has sounded a warning that the ruling New National Party (NNP) is heading for its third 15-0 hammering of opposition forces in the country.
Addressing a public meeting of the party following a conference of the Women’s arm of the party, the Prime Minister said that the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not ready for the upcoming general elections and will not be given a seat on polling day.
He said Congress, under its leader former Finance Minister, Nazim Burke does not represent the epitome of an opposition party and should not be at the helm of NDC.
He accused Burke, the former Member of Parliament for St. George North-east for the dismal showing of NDC in the 2013 general election, and felt that he should have been dismissed instead of being put at the helm of the party.
“There is no doubt in my mind that you do not have a credible opposition in this country. Sisters and Brothers, I am a serious democrat and I genuinely believe it is healthy to have two strong political parties in a country. When that happens, I believe democracy is enhanced but as faith has it, the people were disappointed with what the NDC produced while in government in 2008 to 2013 and they rejected every single NDC candidate in the elections and the architect of NDC defeat, the man who led the NDC for four-and-a-half years, the man who orchestrated the throwing out of Peter David and others was the same man in this constituency, that had the finances of the country in his hands, that build homes for himself, when he should be helping other people to build homes, he build for himself…let him sue me,” Mitchell said.
Burke has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Mitchell in connection with statements made on taxes owed to the State while serving as Minister of Finance.
THE NEW TODAY understands that PM Mitchell did not put in a defense “in time” to the suit and asked the court for additional time to respond to the libel action.
Dr. Mitchell ripped into Sen. Nazim Burke and singled him out as the person solely responsible for NDC’s downfall from power in 2013.
“What a character and the NDC faint heartedly as a group watch a man like this who destroyed your political party, you gave him the easiest seat NDC could ever have in an election, North East, that is known to be an NDC bedrock.
“…The man destroyed the NDC in the North-east Constituency. He destroyed the economy of Grenada during his time of governance. He sat with some of his best comrades in the NDC (and they) were thrown out. He ensured the disaster of the NDC.
“Instead of you firing the man and dismiss him, in fact he should be thrown out of the National Democratic Congress, instead of throwing him out, you promoted him as leader of the National Democratic Congress.
His attack on Burke was related to the decision taken by the Tillman Thomas-led NDC government of 2008-13 to expel General Secretary and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David and nine others from the party.
David, a former member of the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) was identified as the leader of a faction that was battling then Prime Minister Thomas for control of the NDC government and party.
The expelled so-called rebel leader is now a member of NNP and poised to contest the Town of St. George seat for the ruling party in the upcoming general election.
According to PM Mitchell, the NDC can expect another heavy loss at the polls given the Nazim Burke factor.
“What this means is this, the NDC is actually saying, that they are not ready for governance of this country. When they ready for governance, then people would look at them seriously”, he said.
“So, when we going forward in the next election because they aren’t ready and because they do not have a leader, we not giving them one seat again, sisters and brothers,” he added.
In another barrage against Burke, PM Mitchell accused him and other NDC ministers of not paying taxes due to the State while serving in office from 2008 to 2013.
He told party supporters: “How could a man, the Minister of Finance asking everybody to pay taxes and he and his family for three years did not pay their share of taxes and when I talk about it, he say, he suing me.
“He sent a lawyer to write me a letter say he suing me and when we look the lawyer ain’t paying tax too… but the lawyer is one of the most stupid lawyers it (has) around…if I was him(lawyer) I telling the man (Burke) I will do it …I ain’t doing it”, he said.
Former Attorney-General, Rohan Phillip is known to be the lawyer who filed the lawsuit against PM Mitchell on behalf of Burke.
When contacted Monday on the attack launched on him by the Grenadian leader, Phillip said he did not hear the statement and declined to comment.
Prime Minister Mitchell also took a pot shot at former Prime Minister Thomas for not putting his feet down on those NDC ministers who owed taxes to the state while in government.
“…There (were) Ministers of Government, not only in the past government, some of them have businesses galore but they refuse to pay a cent tax to the treasury. Tillman Thomas as Prime Minister claiming to be honest, knew that but he sat in government and never insisted that those ministers paid their taxes,” he said.
Shortly after the NNP won the 2013 poll, its victorious candidate for St. George North-east, Tobias Clement told a sitting of Parliament that there were MP’s on the government side who should not be sitting among them due to taxes owed to the State.
Clement was obviously referring to St. Patrick businessman, Kenny Lalsingh who was given the job by PM Mitchell after the election to Lead Government Business in the Senate.
Lalsingh’s business empire was said to be owing the Treasury an estimated EC$200, 000.00 in taxes and a payment schedule was reportedly worked out for him.
Dr. Mitchell told the public meeting that NNP is different from NDC and operates on the basis of integrity and honesty.
“I have already told members of the government…any member of government who refuse to pay taxes will not remain in the government of the New National Party. We not making joke”, he said.
“This party and this government, the reason the people respect us (is) because we stand for proper governance. Sisters and brothers, we stand for discipline, honesty, and integrity in government,” he added.
During most of his17 years as Prime Minister of the country, PM Mitchell has been dogged by allegations of corruption including a bribery scandal involving US$500, 000.00 from convicted fraudster, Eric Resteiner in exchange for a diplomatic position.