Constitutional reform: Term limits in Parliament

The NNP administration and Cabinet have approved three of the six recommendations made by the NDC and Senator Nazim Burke as part of the constitutional reform process.

Minister of Legal Affairs, 70-year-old Elvin Nimrod, in a recent press conference, indicated that Cabinet has approved three additional items, which include a fixed date for elections and term limits for the Prime Minister.

The issue of term limits for the Prime Minister is a hotly debated issue in Grenada following the abuses of the Keith Mitchell-led NNP regime during the 1995-2008 period.

Mitchell is Grenada’s longest serving Prime Minister but his rule as leader remains very controversial, with many accusing him of being autocratic and dictatorial in a similar fashion to Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

He has also been accused of having an obsession with political power and isn’t interested in term limits for the Prime Minister. Given the opportunity, he would remain in the nation’s parliament until death.

Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, a very strong advocate of term limits for the Prime Minister and a fixed date for elections, didn’t get the opportunity to make the necessary changes.

His administration missed an opportunity to ensure that leaders in the mold of Keith Mitchell never surface in Grenada’s politics again.

Elvin Nimrod indicated that, as it relates to the issue of term limits, Cabinet has approved the idea of a Prime Minister serving for three consecutive terms, after which he has to take a break but has the option of serving as Prime Minister again.

This idea is ”pure BS” and speaks to the twisted mentality of those politicians who want to cling onto power for life.

The issue of term limits should be such that an individual can serve two four- or five-year terms as Prime Minister, after which he is free to write his memoirs. The model used in the United States and Guyana should be the way to go. There should be absolutely no recycling of old leadership.

Grenada’s current social, political and economic situation is a direct result of Mitchell remaining in office for too long and running out of ideas to move the country forward.

As a nation we cannot expect to do the same foolishness and expect different results. It just won’t happen.

The term limit arrangement proposed by the NNP Cabinet has nothing to do with the growth and development of the country, but is geared at giving legitimacy to the failed leadership of Keith Mitchell.

This is totally unacceptable and must be rejected in no uncertain terms. The Cabinet has to understand this loud and clear and revisit this backward, Mugabe style proposal. There is no room in a democracy for this level of backwardness. This is the digital age, where youthfulness is what drives innovation and creativity.
Keith Mitchell, Elvin Nimrod, Gregory Bowen, Anthony Boatswain and Clarice Modeste-Curwen have all passed their prime in politics and they have sadly run out of ideas to lead Grenada in this digital age.

When a Prime Minister, who is a Mathematician and Statistician by training, cannot provide the people with reliable and accurate information regarding the state of affairs of the nation, this is an indication that his memory isn’t good as a result of old age and he should step aside and be replaced by youthful leadership.

The majority of first world countries are turning to young leaders to move their respective countries forward. Communist China, United States of America, Great Britain, France, all have leaders who are under 60 years old.

In communist China, which is not a democracy, its leaders are appointed by the party’s Central Committee to serve as leader for ten years.

Under the current NNP arrangements for term limits, if Keith Mitchell was to serve three terms in this current cycle as he would love to do, he would be almost 85 years old. He then takes a five year break and returns when he is 90 years old, a nonagenarian.

Mitchell would like to break the record of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe by becoming the oldest serving leader in the world, a record he would love to cherish.

If an individual can’t face up to the reality of life, then what else would he be able to face up to?

It is ironic that private and public sector workers have to retire at age 60; however, some septuagenarians want to remain in politics until they are no longer able to function like a normal human being.

We have already witnessed some Caribbean politicians dying in office due to aging. As Paul Keens-Douglas said, these politicians don’t know when to “out” themselves.

This constitutional reform process should clean up all the mess of the past and not be used as a political tool to cement the longevity of politicians who have failed the state and its people. Grenada should never become the Zimbabwe of the Caribbean, cost it what it may.

The people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will be making a gross error if they ever vote in a referendum for this particular NNP proposal on term limits for the Prime Minister.

Keith Mitchell has done sufficient damage physically, emotionally and psychologically to the Grenadian populace and no other individual should be given the opportunity to continue to do so. Enough is enough.

Grenada will become the laughing stock of the Caribbean if in this digital age they vote for such a backward piece of legislation. Power belongs to the people and, like the electorate in Sri Lanka, Grenadians should vote against corruption, mismanagement, dictatorship, cronyism, nepotism, tribalism in the true sense, political segmentation of society, the politicisation of the media, police force, public service and the erosion of democratic institutions.

One sure way of accomplishing these objectives is to ensure that leaders can only serve for two consecutive terms and exit the political stage without the possibility of becoming Prime Minister again.

Some leaders want to remain in office for life in an effort to immunise themselves from prosecution for the wrongs they committed in office. There remains a cloud of suspicion over the head of Keith Mitchell and other senior ministers of his administration.

It was recently revealed that a senior minister of government purchased more than one acre of prime property at Fort Judy. The longer these political leaders remain in office the more corrupt they become.
It is alleged that Peter David is in favour of Grenada becoming a one party state as he vies to become the next Prime Minister of Grenada. The political and judicial systems in Grenada are so weak and corrupt that the Prime Minister can do as he wishes.

The United States of America in its brief history has had over 40 presidents, with President Barack Obama just over fifty years old.

Old twisted leadership is killing the country. Old men are stuck in their ways; they are very reluctant or unappreciative to positive change. While Mitchell, Pastor Simon, Chester Humphrey and the gang are falsely calling for unity, in reality they thrive on the division of the people.

With a strong, united and educated people, these men would have found it extremely difficult to lead. They would have rallied against all the ills committed by Mitchell and the NNP. However, given the division within the society they are able to divide and rule the people.

Senator Nazim Burke and the NDC must stick to their guns on the six issues proposed by the party and should not support any proposal for term limits except one that limits the Prime Minister to two consecutive terms only.

The party should stand on its principles and not waver on these issues lest it comes back to haunt them in the next general elections. Now is not the time to waver. It’s only through decisive actions there will be positive results. Keith Mitchell knows that very well.

The repeal of the Electronic Crimes Bill was only as a result of decisive action. That is the only language that Mitchell and the NNP understand. The NDC has been too quiet on these burning national issues. The party needs to rally for positive change and against the level of political interference in all aspects of people’s lives.

Grenada needs to be a free and democratic society where people feel unshackled and free to express their opinions without any intimidation, discrimination and victimization. There is the need for a free media, independence of the RGPF, the judiciary and other democratic institutions. It is only then will the people meet their true potential.

In conclusion, the idea of term limits for three consecutive terms with the possibility of returning as Prime Minister after a break of one term is a stupid one. I am not aware of any country on Earth where this is done.  The current crop of leaders should serve out their last term in office and exit the scene in peace. Open a foundation and engage in philanthropy and community work. They have raped the state of its resources for too long and it’s time that they give back to society.

Grenadians need to be prepared spiritually for the battle that is to come. It won’t be easy; however, good will prevail over evil. Lenin tried and failed, Stalin and Hitler also tried and failed. Ghaddafi, Mubarak, Saddam Hussein and Pol Pot tried and failed. Keith Mitchell, Chester Humphrey and Peter David are trying but like the dictators before them they too shall fail.

Forward ever! Backward never. Power belongs to the people. Let the people’s voices be heard.

Grenadian Class

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