Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has blasted the “eat-a-food” mentality that has been introduced into the local politics in recent years by the current New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Addressing a public meeting of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the grounds of the Westerhall Secondary School in St. David’s on Sunday night, Thomas cited this “eat-a-food” concept of the NNP as a major contributor to the present financial and economic difficulties facing the Tri-island State.
“Brother and sisters, we should not fall for this eat-a-food mentality. They (NNP supporters) just want to eat a food. Let me say to you, there are times it is better to stay hungry than to eat contaminated food”, he told an impressive gathering of NDC members and supporters.
“You might eat the food but in the long run you can live to regret it. So sometimes it is better to remain hungry than eat contaminated food”, he added.
Prime Minister Mitchell has built up a reputation over the years of using significant State resources to aid his supporters who are mainly from the poorer section of the population in order to help win general elections in Grenada.
Thomas’ address came about five hours after he was replaced by former Finance Minister Nazim Burke as the new Political Leader of NDC following an election of delegates at the party’s first annual convention since losing the February 19, 2013 general elections to NNP.
The ex-Grenadian leader lashed out at the policies of the former Mitchell administration between 1995 and 2008 for creating the financial difficulties the country is now undergoing with a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in conjunction with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) beckoning.
He pointed to millions of dollars that were wasted by former Prime Minister Mitchell and his regime on ill-conceived projects such as the failed poultry scheme at Victoria, St. Mark’s and the Hotel and Golf Course at Levera.
Recalling that prior to the 2013 elections, then opposition Leader and current Prime Minister Mitchell had advocated that he was against the imposition of taxes on the people, Thomas charged the current Grenadian leader with betraying the population on the many promises made to defeat Congress at the last polls.
“What is he doing today? He is imposing taxes on the people. And you may ask, if NNP isn’t doing it, is it the IMF doing it?’
Prime Minister Mitchell who is the island’s Minister of Finance announced a series of austerity measures in delivering the 2014 budget in December that includes a widening of the income tax net, as well as huge increases in property taxes and the cost of receiving services from government.
According to Thomas, what the NNP administrations of Dr. Mitchell has been doing over the years in office is engaging in politics of “misleading” and “deception” in order to maintain its stranglehold on the country.
In his address lasting about 15 minutes, Thomas chided the one-year old NNP regime for seeking to restore Criminal Libel on the law books of Grenada when it was repealed under the 2008 to 2013 Congress government.
He said the recent passage in Parliament and assent by the Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade to the Electronic Crime Bill was a clear attempt by the new rulers in St. George’s to try and bring back criminal libel through “the back door”.
“Is that a progressive way to do things? And you have the progressive forces riding on that bandwagon…”, remarked Thomas as he took pot shots at former Congress members now aligned with Mitchell’s NNP.
The former NDC boss was clearly referring to his former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David who has been globe-trotting with current Prime Minister Mitchell on hunt for aid and financial assistance, as well as trade union leader, Chester Humphrey, the President-General of the powerful Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU).
David and Humphrey were among ten NDC “rebel” members who were expelled from the party just over a year ago at the height of a bitter feud for control of the government.
The pro-Thomas forces retook control of the important organs of the party from the grips of David who held the influential post of General Secretary and was identified as the person the so-called rebels were backing to install as the new Prime Minister.
In recent weeks, David has been advocating that Grenada needs a one-party state and that PM Mitchell is not that bad as some people are trying to make him out to be.
The last time that Grenada was classified as “a one-party state” was during the 1979-83 rule of the Marxist-oriented New Jewel Movement (NJM) that overthrew the elected Eric Gairy government and formed the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) with Maurice Bishop as the leader.
David had served as a captain in the disbanded People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) and Deputy Secretary for Information.