Budhall speaks of new problems in Congress

Kennedy Budhall – a former army officer in the disbanded PRA

Kennedy Budhall – a former army officer in the disbanded PRA

Controversial Political activist, Kennedy Budhall known in many quarters as KB has charged that internal wranglings are continuing to plague the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Budhall who has had a chequered political career from since his association with the ill-fated 1979-83 People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, made his latest pronouncement on a local FM station that is aligned to the ruling New National Party (NNP).

The programme on Real FM radio was hosted by Andre Donald, a  strong supporter of NNP and former NDC executive member Devon Romain who recently pledge his allegiance to NNP.

According to Budhall, there is internal feud brewing between the NDC General Secretary Patrick Simmons, the former Minister of Youth and Sports and members of the hierarchy of the party.

“It seems as though the fighting will never stop inside the NDC,” said the political activist who has been associated with every political organisation in the country over the years except the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of Eric Gairy.

He alluded to elections that were held in the absence of Simmons who was at the time away in Canada to select a Caretaker for the Constituency of St. Andrew’s North-west.

The election of the caretaker which took place three weeks ago saw the emergence of former Property Evaluator at the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) Phillip Alexander, a one-time close aide of former Congress Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas.

Budhall claimed that Simmons is of the view that as NDC General Secretary and the one entrusted with the organisation of the party, the election of the Caretaker was deliberately done while he was out of the country.

Phillip Alexander – now in charge of St. Andrew North-west for Congress

Phillip Alexander – now in charge of St. Andrew North-west for Congress

“If you (Simmons) insinuated that some people in the party do not want you Simmons has to resign. He cannot continue in that position. The General Secretary’s position is too much an important position for him not to be loyal to the party, and not to be loyal to the leader,” he said.

Budhall charged that the feud between Simmons and the leadership of the party is now in the public domain and he (Simmons) cannot remain silent on the issue.

“He must come out and either lie on himself and say look there is no problem between me and NDC, I am fully in the party and I am loyal to the NDC cause and its leadership. He has to come and break the silence. He can’t just don’t say nothing because it’s (the fall-out) in the public domain,” he told the programme.

The political analyst also praised the NDC which failed to win any of the 15 seats in the 2013 general elections for being able to mobilize and energize its political base within the past 19 months.

However, Budhall was once again highly critical of new Political Leader Nazim Burke whom he believes lacks the political skills and support of persons with resources to take the politics to a higher level.

“Naz cannot sit in St. George’s and star on the TV, star on the radio, star on the platform. Yes, that is good but he has to dig deep and go into the rural community and connect with into the rural community and connect with people, and that is his problem,” he remarked.

Budhall referred to an encounter he had with some key NDC operatives -Aaron Moses, Phillip Alexander and Richard Simon – while the party was still in government – on a possible successor to PM Thomas.

According to him, these people ruled out giving support to the former General Secretary Peter David who is now a card-bearing member of NNP and favoured Burke as the person next in line.

However, he spoke of the aides confessing to him that they have serious problems with Burke claiming that he would not do the political work.

Budhall dropped strong hints on the radio programme that Burke’s engagement with the people is being hampered by his Barbadian-born wife Jacqueline Sealy-Burke who like her husband is an attorney-at-law by profession.

“They (aides of PM Thomas) planed that every Friday we will go out into the community and will engage the people, to connect with the people in the community. They say 8 o’clock in the night the phone rings, Naz wife called him home – it is time to come home,” he said.

According to Budhall, he was told by Thomas’ aides that Burke only went out once with them to touch base with the people while Congress was in power.

Budhall said: “As a politician, as a leader his (Burke’s) inability to connect (with the people) would be his biggest problem, and that is where Naz gets stuck”.

The political activist suggested that NDC needs to go out and recruit people with skills such as Andre Winston Thomas, an attorney who is the brother of former Prime Minister Thomas, attorney-at-law, Ruggles Ferguson, and economist, Dr. Brian Francis who is a senior Lecturer in Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

He felt that the main opposition party has now found its self being stuck with only talk show host Kem Jones and the weekly People’s Parliament and that it needs to move beyond and break new grounds.

“The Kem Jones program” is currently seen as the face and the voice of the NDC”, Budhlal pointed out.
He said that even high ranking members of NDC would like to see the olive branch stretched out to get “new people” into the party.

“The intelligent ones in NDC right now, the leaders recognise for them to mount a credible challenge to Dr. (Keith) Mitchell and the NNP in the coming elections they need to change their tone, they need to be a bit more conciliatory… reach out to some of the NNP supporters and the independent minded voters,” he added.

The political analyst believes this could be difficult for the party to do since it does not have a program to attract independent minded people.

He also cited one of the major problems for Congress as the lack of finance to be able to get reputable political activists on board to take the politics to the people.

“It is time to attract intelligent people at the top, people with substance and influence, professionals. They must sell something to the Grenadian people,” Budhlall advised.

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