For 13 consecutive years Keith Mitchell and the NNP ruled Grenada and kept the issue of constitutional reform on the backburner.
The social, political and economic situation in the early part of his rule from 1995 to 2003 was ideal for promoting constitutional reforms. Grenada’s unemployment rate was under 20%, the economy was growing at an average rate of 4% per year, government borrowed and spent like crazy. There was no structural adjustment or the IMF and the people were not burden by taxation.
Today, with the country struggling under a structural adjustment program supervised by the IMF, a national debt of $2.5 billion, chronic unemployment, youth unemployment at 60%, increased taxation, high energy cost, high cost of living, the country in economic crisis, Keith Mitchell and the NNP want to push constitutional reform down the people’s throat.
The process is designed to give more power to some selected individuals, with the major items being pushed by the NNP being Grenada becoming a member of the CCJ and a republic with an Executive President and Prime Minister.
President of the Senate, Hon Lawrence Joseph allegedly made this abundantly clear at the various consultations. The plan has been well thought out, only to be executed.
Following the passage of hurricane Ivan the NDC proposed a government of national unity to facilitate a speedy recovery. PM Mitchell scoffed at the idea saying, “Two male rats can’t live in the same hole.”
Allegations of a coup surfaced, with the Prime Minister allegedly seeking military assistance from Trinidad and Tobago.
The favourite quote “two boar rats can’t live in the same hole” is more relevant in the current political dispensation. The major difference is that the two boar rats, Keith Mitchell and Peter David, are in the same hole.
With the two boar rats in the same hole the rush to constitutional reform and in particular to declare Grenada a republic is to ensure that there is “joint leadership” as a consequence of the power sharing arrangement they made prior to the February 19 general elections.
The issue of “joint leadership” destroyed the popular people’s revolution after the assassination of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Such a crazy idea in a small country is political madness.
Bernard Coard, allegedly in his quest for political power, decided to change the rules of the Central Committee. The end result was the death of Bishop and some cabinet colleagues, an invasion by US marines and the incarceration of Coard/RMC.
This new conspiracy, taking the form of constitutional reform, has allegedly as one of its hidden agendas the issue of joint leadership. The proposed republic in the constitutional review process will have an Executive President and a Prime Minister. Both positions with their distinct roles and responsibilities.
Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has declared that he won’t be seeking elected office. PM Mitchell has been flip-flopping and dangling on his own political future plans. This is an indication that he still has ambitions to lead in some capacity, which may be President-for-life in the new republic.
While Keith contemplates sitting on a throne for life, Peter David is fantasizing and salivating about his many foreign trips as Prime Minister if the joint leadership plans materialises.
The philosophical and personality differences that existed between Bishop and Coard ensured that the joint leadership experiment failed. Time will tell what the outcome will be if this latest attempt at joint leadership succeeds.
Peter David is a radical socialist, Keith is rightist/leftist/socialist/capitalist/ liberal/conservative, depending on which side of the political spectrum you are looking at.
What is certain is that Peter David isn’t a Grace Duncan, Raphael Fletcher, Michael Baptiste or Yolande Horsford. He allegedly entered into the hole with his five-star general Chester Humphrey and scores of lieutenants.
Keith Mitchell has his work cut out. The only way out of this mangled hole is through constitutional reform and the birth of the Republic of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique with “joint leadership”. This arrangement is a win-win for himself and Peter David.
Maintaining the current Westminster parliamentary democracy with only a Prime Minister as the leader of government may create a fatal political situation among the “boar rats”. Two boar rats just can’t live in the same hole even when they sign a truce and a marriage certificate of political convenience.
Nazim Burke and the NDC are absolutely right not to support the proposed constitutional reform in the present form. Doing so would amount to political suicide. The six additional items proposed, if not taken into serious consideration, will result in a vigorous NO campaign against any constitutional reform.
Constitutional reforms promote and enhance the nation’s democracy, not create the conditions for dictatorship and the abuse of power. Constitutional reform is necessary. The issue is how as a country we accomplish this very serious task that will serve the long-term interest of all stakeholders in an equitable manner.
The approach of the NNP administration doesn’t take the interest of the country/people at heart, but instead the political interest of the party and its cronies.
The governance agenda of the NNP for the past 18 months has been one of constitutional violations over and over. The electronics crimes bill, the itizen by investment bill and a host of other bills rushed through the rubber stamp parliament are all aimed at stifling democracy.
The modus operandi of Keith Mitchell and the NNP isn’t conducive for constitutional reform.
The manner in which the casino gambling bill was rushed through the lower house through all its stages is a manifestation that dictatorship is alive and well in Grenada.
It is one thing to want constitutional reform, but another when a dictatorial leader is manipulating the process. Grenada needs leaders with a fresh attitude towards the governance of the country. Leaders that are creative and would work to promote unity and genuine democracy.
Politics isn’t for the faint hearted or cowards. The NDC should concentrate on its rebuilding process to ensure the sustainability and viability of the organisation and at the same time take the battle to the NNP.
Thousands of Grenadians are looking for some more political aggression from Nazim Burke and the NDC.
Grenada’s democracy can only be strengthened when there are two or more strong political organisations from which the electorate can chose.
The best option for the country and its people would be to hold the referendum for constitutional reform and the national elections simultaneously.
All stakeholders, including the political parties, would have had the opportunity to consult with their constituents, from which a list that represents the interest of everyone can be generated.
In conclusion, any constitutional reform should have the interest of the country and its people as its main focus. It should take the country and its people to a new level. One whereby the fundamental rights and freedoms of every citizen are respected. A complete paradigm shift.
There should be a complete change of the status quo. Anything short of that would be an exercise in futility and runs the risk of spitting the country even further as evident in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
I am certain that is not the legacy Prime Minister Mitchell wants to be associated with.
No to joint leadership! No to a one party state! No to the referendum. Forward ever! Backward never!