Approximately 150 persons took to the streets of St. George’s last week Thursday with placards to press the two-year old New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to deliver on the thousands of jobs that were promised in the 2013 general elections.
The protest march took place on the exact date of two years ago – February 19 – when the NNP swept back into power winning all 15 seats at the polls on its campaign platform of “We will Deliver”.
The protesters, chanting “We want jobs” engaged in a peaceful demonstration to demand of the Mitchell-led administration to provide “the jobs, jobs and more jobs” that they had promised the electorate on the campaign trail.
Led by political activist and owner of Vision Information Services, talk show host, Kem Jones, the march began on the Green Bridge, outside the national stadium at Queen’s Park and made its way into the town of St George where drums, whistles and loud voices were used to send a resounding message.
Jones told reporters that the NNP claimed that they saw the hopelessness and the joblessness throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique under the 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas and they were coming to the rescue.
Considered as the most popular talk show host currently on the island, Jones pointed out that many persons are still waiting to be rescued by PM Mitchell and NNP.
“When Dr. Mitchell said to me and said to the people of Grenada, in 6 months, 2- 3 five star hotels would be constructed, when he said in 2-3 months we will have (a) Prison Complex, a Police Complex, a Kirani James Complex and also the Parliament building and the Governor General house”, he said.
“…I mean people were looking forward for those things being fulfilled because a man’s word (is) supposed to be his bond and if he breaks that, that’s a solemn promise – people actually put their pot on fire hoping that in the next 6 months, and that was in 2013 that work will come. Two years is enough for you to make how many children you want, two years is enough for you to build a house, two years is enough for you to build a road,” he added.
According to Jones, too many promises were made to the people by those now in government but not much action has been seen from them.
“ You (PM Mitchell) told the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique that you are able to deliver. Dr Mitchell said to the Grenadian people that there are investors lining up, tripping over each other to come in and he met with them and they convince him that they would come in on one condition, NDC must go.
“Alright NDC is not there anymore, why are you not having the investors coming into Grenada and do what they suppose to do? This is not about Kem Jones, it’s about the fact that Dr Mitchell and the NNP made some solemn promises to the people of Grenada and the people of Grenada decide look, enough is enough.
When asked if he believes that the march is enough to get the results he wanted, Jones replied that it is not only for the Government but the supporting authorities that have influence on the Government.
“I have said time and time again, even if Kem Jones is out here alone demonstrating for jobs, jobs and more jobs, I believe the authorities should take it seriously because I’m (a) citizen of Grenada and the people who are with me … they too understand the need for jobs”, he remarked.
“Traverse Grenada, go into the rural areas and you would see the amount of young people on the blocks, what they want is work and every time you hear the Ministers talk, they have it in the pipeline, jobs coming, jobs coming and all you have to do is open the tap and allow the work to flow, that’s what people are clamouring for,” he said.
The talk show host also threw out a challenge to the local private sector to become more productive and help create employment opportunities in the country.
“Not only the Government but the Private Sector must play a role in this process, they too have a duty to the people to create jobs …it’s my human rights to work in my country, it’s inhumane for people who are competent, qualified able-bodied who cannot find work in their own country, this is a crime,” Jones said.
One of the demonstrators relayed his sentiments to reporters just before he took to the streets to engage in the march.
He said: “Well it is long overdue, we decide we as Grenadians, we as Christians have abandoned the political process and let all kinds of wicked and corrupt leaders come on board and they in charge of we country.
“It’s good that there is an awakening in our conscience through this demonstration. The Government hasn’t done anything or lived up to any of their promises. I can’t think of one – what they have done is they have victimised Grenadians, they are hell bent on destroying this country”.
A large contingent from the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) including Deputy Political Leader, Joseph Andall and Assistant Public Relations Officer (PRO), Randall Robinson attended the march.
Andall was specifically asked whether he was disappointed in the performance of NNP in office and he said his expectation was not as high for him to be so disappointed as many other persons.
“I didn’t really expect anything from the NNP because what they were promising was totally unrealistic. This thing about spending 50 million dollars within the first 100 days, I know that that was just cheap talk. This talk about investors lined up they spoke about that in 1999, in 2003, 2008 so I was not surprised that they came up again with it in 2013”, he said.
“…Two years have passed and the only thing they have been able to deliver is taxes, fees, levies, lay-offs, wage freeze, employment freeze except for the party hacks and the party big boys. While we have a country with people struggling to put food on the table, people struggling to find money to send their children to school, the Government can find monies to give to two MP’s previously three who are doing absolutely nothing”, he added.
Andall criticised the Mitchell government for using funds from the Treasury “to spend over $10,000 a month to maintain Constituency offices that are funded by taxpayers but are basically doing NNP’s political work, so I am not surprised by the lack of delivery”.
Like Andall, Robinson took pot shots at the NNP for using deceit to hoodwink Grenadians into voting them back into office.
“We all knew that times were difficult but they (NNP) made it sound as though it was a management problem on the part of the NDC… basically tomfool(ing) the nation…”, he said.
“…Two years later when you really look around you can tell that things are really not what you expected them to be and I think it’s time that the Government comes out and speak truth to the people …” he added.
Since coming into power, the Mitchell-led government has been forced to introduce a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which involves sweeping hikes in taxes in order to address a grave fiscal situation facing the country in light of a burdensome national debt of EC$2.4 billion.