The CCJ Referendum

by Ray Roberts

What difference will the CCJ make to an increasing corrupted Grenada democracy? This is a very important question that should be pondered upon and not answered immediately.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley said all the right things and gave good reasons why Grenadians ought to vote for the Caribbean Court of Justice in the November Referendum.

However, what difference will the CCJ make to an increasingly corrupted Grenada democracy?

Well if there are more sinners than saints in the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell’s NNP House then it does not matter.

Grenadians ought not to be fooled that ridding themselves of the Privy Council and all other symbols of our colonial past will manifest themselves into an era of all that is wonderful.
Listening to Dr. Lawrence Joseph, Dr Francis Alexis, Ruggles Ferguson and Prime Minister Keith Mitchell – they are creating a rosy picture in their burning desire for victory at all cost in the November 6 Referendum.

No argument with the theory and the symbolic pride that the CCJ and other regional institutions bring to our independence nations. The Caribbean has the talent and we all desire regional institutions with a regional identity.

However, ignoring Dr. Mitchell’s Government abuse of our democratic institutions and increasing monopoly on political power a better Grenada will only emerge if we as a people take stock and assiduously work and protect the moral sanctity of our most treasured state institutions, and most specifically electoral process that governs our elections.

No denying our parliamentary electoral system is a tool of the government of the day and in our March 13th General Election the dishonesty was vivid – citizens being allowed to vote without the use of an Identification card given to them by the same Parliamentary Electoral Office.

The current laws do not require anyone to show an ID card and that ought to change. In other words, the future law must mandate everyone to show an ID to vote.

The Governor General’s office sacking the experienced returning officers in the respective electoral offices ahead of the March 13th General Elections without any reasonable explanation – that was alarming and shocking.

Citizens at large identified several of the replacements workers as being linked to the ruling party.

Also, we cannot ignore the covert run Government Citizenship by Investment program (CBI) in which foreigners can purchase a Grenadian passport and automatically become a voter in our General Elections.

Grenada has already sold more that 1500 CBI passports and only the government knows who these people are and many of them voted in South St. George and other constituencies.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) and CARICOM Observer teams along with the local NGO Election monitoring committee all presented reports for electoral reform in 2013 and again in 2018, but the government continues to ignore them all.

It begs the question: why haven’t the likes of Dr Alexis, a champion for the CCJ and Caribbean democracy, use their influence to have Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell urgently take to parliament a Bill that ensures better governance of our parliamentary electoral democracy?

One could easily understand Attorney Ruggles Ferguson ignoring it being a passionate lover of the PRG politics which was based on a one-party state system as now being promoted by his 1979-83 colleague, Captain Peter David, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Attorney General Sir Lawrence also has the influence to make his government amend the laws, however, he seems happy to be a part of the privileged few with a monopoly on political power.

It must be noted that no referendum could success without NDC support therefore NDC supporters must use their numbers to leverage and demand that the government make changes to the parliamentary electoral laws as a pre-requisite for their support.

The threshold for the referendum success is high. The government needs 67 percent of the people voting to win and NNP voters on their own do not have the numbers, and as such NDC support is fundamental.

The debate to take place in the coming weeks is not about the CCJ, rather it is about the corruption in electoral politics.

The people who represent the major institutions – the Chamber of Commerce, the BAR Association and others are asleep and the dishonesty prevails in very high places and this is an opportunity to eliminate some of the corruption from electoral politics.

The Referendum held under the supervision of the same Parliamentary Electoral Office begs the question – Will it be fair? One strongly doubts it!

The government of the day can do as it wishes because the system does not allow for proper scrutiny.

The Government of Dr. Mitchell has an opportunity to demonstrate integrity and character – the same Bill the NNP brought to Parliament in 2017 and then withdrew still has merit. All that is required now is an engagement with all political parties and stakeholders and make the necessary changes and subsequently return it to the houses of parliament in late October.

If this referendum means more than an Alexis/Ferguson/Keith Mitchell and Lawrence Joseph ego trip then as leaders demonstrate goodwill. Let it be the dawn of a new day for parliamentary elections.

Like it or not the current system is a haven for dishonest men and women to strive and the NNP is the only one to blossom if the electoral laws stay as they are.

This is a clarion call for all NDC supporters to get ready to defend Grenada’s democracy from the 1979-83 misguided comrades who have now forged a link with PM Mitchell and the likes of Dr. Alexis and Sir Lawrence and the NNP cabal to maintain their stranglehold on political power.

The battle ahead is for democracy in Grenada and the Caribbean since in principle one will always support the CCJ but under the right set of conditions.

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