Keith Mitchell: Newly minted crusader for national unity

Khalicby Arthur Kallick

Dr Keith Mitchell, in his Independence Day address, said, “I again offer my hand to my political opponents. I say come let us build our nation together.” In the same vein, he said to the New York-based Diaspora, “I make a call today for all of us, despite our differences, let us unite. Let us unite to build our country first.” Dr Mitchell also anchored his call by making biblical reference to 1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish ways.”

Dr Mitchell’s political career can be described as probably the greatest contributor to the post revolution saga of divisiveness and political morass. When he wrested control of the New National Party (NNP) from Herbert Blaize, many opined that it was an act of treachery, as he constantly reassured Mr Blaize of his unwavering loyalty. Mr Blaize actually believed Dr Mitchell until his rude awakening on the convention floor. Dr Mitchell, in his defence, said that Mr Blaize must have been naïve to think that a challenge was not imminent, as opinion polls indicated that Dr Mitchell was the most popular politician in the country at that time.

The endless making and breaking of makeshift alliances, along with backdoor deal making, has been the hallmark of the modus operandi of Dr Mitchell. In the process, political friendships were made and broken with such ruthlessness that he has accumulated an unenviable briefcase of enemies of all shades.

The long stream of public scandals that culminated with the “Briefcase Inquiry” are potent reminders that Dr Mitchell’s personal credibility is tenuous at best, even with avowed supporters of the NNP. The ugly outburst that “Me damn money is mine” still causes self respecting Grenadians to cringe about the reality that a sitting prime minister can bring the office into such disrepute.

Many Grenadians recall that, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) made a call for the formation of a national unity government. Dr Mitchell scoffed at the proposal and even went on to insinuate that a coup was in the making. The then Prime Minister Manning of Trinidad and Tobago appeared to have believed the rumour and began to take certain measures to quell a nonexistent threat.

Colour politics of Dr Mitchell’s vintage has now defined the political landscape of the country. This phenomenon directly affects the functioning of public institutions like the civil service, the Royal Grenada Police Force and statutory bodies. The pervasive stench of political cronyism and the absence of respect for professionalism and merit have conspired against the efficient management of these institutions. Since the second clean-sweep election victory by the NNP, Dr Mitchell has again showed that he has not changed. His handlers wanted to make us believe that he is now a “kinder and gentler”; however, the treatment meted out to Sir Carlyle Glean and Commissioner Thompson has blown this myth out of the skies.

An even more worrying trend is the fact that he uses the Parliament to malign and criticise ordinary citizens who are not in a position to defend themselves in the hallowed chambers of the House. His unwarranted attack on Mr Jude Bernard, a local commentator, bears testimony to this. The prime minister’s use of insults and downright lies against opponents is legendary.

I contend that Dr Mitchell’s conduct, past and present, makes him ineligible to lead the charge for national unity. His arrogance, disrespectful conduct and his known penchant to say one thing and do another, further diminishes his chances of success. The biblical reference made in 1st Corinthians that he himself cited is of the essence. Dr Mitchell has not transitioned from (political) childhood and no amount of flowery language will camouflage the opportunistic intent for his call for national unity.

His newly converted followers, Peter David and Chester Humphrey, cannot create traction for “Project Grenada”, which is intended to provide tacit support for the prime minister’s crusade. It all has to do with his attempt to cement a legacy that is but a fleeting illusion.

Arthur Kallick was born in Trinidad and lived in Grenada until he moved to Canada in the late 1980s after completing secondary school. He has a Master’s in family counselling and child physiology from the University of Toronto. He is now a freelance writer and has been living in Grenada for the past six years, and at present works with Caribbean Family Planning unit as a counsellor.


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