Speaking up… Disrupting the Winner!

William Joseph

Papa Jerry gathered a bundle of characteristics and composed a calypso entitled, ‘The Grenadian Ruler’, recently. Indeed, there is a massive difference between a ruler and a leader. The ruler is one who consumes himself with power and exercises it on his own terms and lauds it over the people. He is usually assisted by packs of conscripts.

Where a nation finds itself under a ruler, that nation is on a very slippery slope. In such conditions one will find serious negatives regarding the state of the society and unhappiness with the quality of governance.

The biblical standard of leadership is described as ‘a spirit of excellence’. It consists of one’s attitude towards people and one’s attitude towards the management of resources. Here, respect for others and inspiration of the people, plus a commitment of ‘service to the nation’ and accountability, work together to produce a standard- bearer; a leader. Perfection is not required. Therefore, allowances must be made for errors of judgment, genuine mistakes and certain cultural pastimes.

The defining feature, on a balance of the evidence, is the pattern and flavour of governance in Grenada under Prime Minister Mitchell, an unmatched electoral winner. Additionally, look to see whether he has put Nation before self and party on a reasonably consistent basis.

Frankly, many will struggle to answer in his favour.

Last week’s Referendum called for leadership which was plainly not provided. Every change process requires leadership for success. A committee of various players cannot provide leadership. The inspiration needed to come from the Head of Government. The Prime Minister failed his Nation.

A leader dedicated to ‘service to the nation’ would inspire the people to achieve a major shift with an opportunity of huge national importance. It is very wrong to treat the ‘business of the nation’ as if it were restricted to material, financial and economic welfare.

There are very important social causes and values which help to underpin and to define a people and to establish them as a nation.

Parliament makes laws and the Government plans for the provision of justice through the courts. Whether in Parliament or in Cabinet, we are talking about politicians. What is crucial is that those in Parliament and in the Cabinet should not use the laws and arrangements for personal advantage or to hurt other citizens or to abuse public resources or to fetter and deny justice.

Justice is not a partisan issue. In fact, it goes to the core of the governance system and is to be treated with a high degree of statesmanship by a Prime Minister. From the onset, the Prime Minister should have addressed the Nation, very solemnly, on the goal of replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ. He did not, preferring to make statements elsewhere. Yes, he spoke on the matter in Parliament, but that is no substitute for a National Address where every citizen is being spoken to directly.

Equally, he ought to have developed a strategy to achieve his objective, ensuring that proper arrangements, including adequate funding and the support of the Opposition and civil society, were tightly in place before any public announcement. The absence of a coherent strategy suggests that the Prime Minister relied on other factors. He now knows that massive victories at the polls do not translate to support on everything; it is not a blank cheque. Alas, the lesson is too late.

There are areas of public affairs which should not be the subject of party rivalry. Justice is one of them. Others are the treatment of our youth and poor people.

On General Election day, a winner is declared, but the role goes to a leader. Having elected ‘a leader’ we then turn around and say that ‘leader’ should not promote the CCJ. I disagree.

What he must not do is to dress the issues in personal and partisan robes.

Can it be said that the Government has a policy on justice? Justice is a matter of grave importance and the Prime Minister is required to treat it accordingly and on a consistent basis.

Having lost the Referendum, his immediate retreat to the comfort of having fifteen seats and other boasts exposed a ruler’s mindset. The people did not expect to be told; ‘You’re on your own, count me out’!

Stumbling upon good ratings by external entities after twenty years is no indicator of consistently appropriate leadership. There is something very powerful about pattern and habit, i.e. they are reliable predictors of behaviour. Up to this point, Grenada has had a very efficient winner who has failed to be a leader of celebratory repute. And now it’s too late to expect, far less to get, more and better!

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