Grenada: A Nation Un-dressed

There is a principle of life and living, which is that we pay a price for everything that we do and every choice that we make. This holds true for both personal and national circumstances. When we decide or accept to set up our Government on the basis of the dictatorship of the political parties, we are entrenching a system whose operations will demand that certain costs be borne by the citizens.

The most recent Address to the Nation by the Prime Minister virtually takes our clothes off and exposes us to a set of fixed circumstances that spells sadness for all and sundry. Our beloved Grenada simply cannot feed, protect and prosper us all as currently structured and managed. Rhetoric might create a desired set of optics, but it cannot mask diminishing hope and sagging aspiration.

Given that the national condition is party-neutral, it is time that we seek to construct a new consensus for governance, development and the strengthening of our democracy. If we continue to be driven and motivated by the vote and power as the winner-take-all prize, then we will continue on the path to ‘failed State’ status, getting there much sooner than we would imagine.

One of the main issues in the Address was the Public Service, so that some comments on this matter are in order. The first thing to appreciate is that the Constitution of Grenada, Section 60, establishes the ministerial system as integral to the Public Service in these terms, “The Governor-General… may… assign to the Prime Minister or any other Minister responsibility for any business of the Government of Grenada, including the administration of any department of government”. It then backs that up at Section 67, as follows, “Where any Minister has been charged with the responsibility for any department of government, he shall exercise general direction and control over that department….”.

Therefore, tinkering with ministerial portfolios and appointments will send a message about management capacity and show up as undesirable and poor results at the delivery end. A Broadway producer who advertised a classical ballet performance will get scathing reviews if his dance troupe was only able to execute the ‘passa passa’ dance!

As of July 2016, we will have an over-laden and invalid system of ministerial ‘management’, which instead of breeding confidence, will message uncertainty, irrationality and arbitrariness. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s pen cannot re-write the certification in public office so far achieved by his cohort of ministers!

In the words of deceased Soca Boca, “the inspiration that we need, we not getting it in the lead”! That being the case, Grenadians will be no better off in the period leading up to the next General Elections.

Equally, we will be no better off if we remain wedded to the dictatorship of the political parties.

Under the existing arrangements the weaknesses of the parties become the weaknesses of the society! That cannot be a happy circumstance for sensible Grenadians who share the view that we are well able.

When the Governor of the Bank wrote official speeches in the last fifteen years or so, he never failed to rely on assurances contained in the Holy Bible. He has moved on, but his successor writer has adopted the pattern. Fair enough! Accordingly, I was excited at the prospect of hearing a reference to 1 Chronicles 28:3 as the authority for denying Hon. Roland Bhola continued stewardship of the Ministry of Agriculture so that he could not build a ‘joopa’ to store the first harvest of Ukrainian potatoes!

However, friends of Mr. Bhola say that he does not judge himself unworthy! Wonderful! The demotion of the Hon. Emmalin Pierre might have taken some by surprise. She has been the chief architect of the Government’s Youth Program for years. In fact, the set-up behind the IMANI Program carries even her church stamp in terms of appointments!
Is there now an indictment against the state of that Program or is the regime simply eating itself at its failure to deliver real employment to the young people of Grenada? A pillar is dislodged and instability is imminent.

Then there was the announced re-assignment of the Hon. Clarice Modeste, which many demanded months ago! One cannot be a Foreign Minister and advocate the colonisation of one’s country!

The public will not get to know why specific ministerial changes, including demotions, were made. This had, prior to November 2010, always been respected as falling within the constitutional purview of the Prime Minister. But the very ones who put PM Tillman Thomas under pressure to explain and justify the exercise of his prerogative back then, dare not open their mouths today.

In 2016, given where seats are occupied or hoped for, no one will even seek a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss his changes, far less instigate public calls for him to give reasons for his decisions. No one will delay going to the Governor-General’s Office to take the Oath of Office for their new portfolios. On the day appointed for that purpose, they will all be there and we can expect Senators Peter David and Chester Humphrey to be in the gallery! On that day, Tillman Thomas will manage a private smile!

The Constitution has not changed since November 2010. All of this simply tells us that the opportunity to serve in Government is not to be assumed to be accepted as an opportunity to serve the Nation!

Hypocrisy may well be an attribute of party politics, so too is self-pleasing and reckless ambition.

So what do we make of a speech that celebrates record revenue from record taxation? What do we make of a speech that locks-in high unemployment and poverty? What do we say of a speech that oils the elections machinery of the party in Office by seeking to placate Public Officers? And what do we say of a speech that is bold enough to blame others for economic under-performance and failure?

When a Government has to resort to a ‘satisficing (make-that-do) model’ of employment through the IMANI Program and more recently the hiring of itinerant nurses, then you know, putting everything together, that we have no clothes left to cover our frail bodies.
Things have fallen apart and the Emperor must tear-up his robes for all to see.

William Joseph

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