“Liberation Day will be March 13. March 13, is a day, which represents a revolution against corruption, oppression, spitefulness, vindictiveness, and intimidation.”
That was the response of Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nazim Burke, to Prime Minister Keith Mitchell’s election day announcement, which was made during a rally of the ruling party at the Car Park of the Kirani James Athletic Stadium on Sunday night.
In announcing the breaking news, which came while he was in the middle of addressing a large gathering of NDC supporters, who flocked The Carenage on Sunday night, Burke pointed to the significance of March 13 for the main opposition party and the country as a whole.
It was on March 13, 1979 that the armed wing of the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop attacked the Grenada Defence Force (GDF) barracks at True Blue to overthrow the late Sir Eric Mathew Gairy-led Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) government to begin the Grenada Revolution.
This year marks the 39th anniversary of the short-lived Grenada Revolution, which collapsed in October 1983 when a radical faction loyal to Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard challenged Bishop’s leadership resulting in a bloody carnage on Fort Rupert in which dozens including Bishop were killed.
It was also on March 13, 1990 that Congress under the late Sir Nickolas Brathwaite captured a majority of seven seats in general election to form the government.
Burke who is seeking to regain the St., George North-east seat told supporters that the NNP was a “desperate” party that is “determined to win the upcoming elections by any means necessary” and urged Grenadians to be wary and watchful of the NNP.
“I am quite convinced that they are not prepared to play by the rules…we are already seeing signs of a dirty and nasty campaign. They have started bribing our people (and) giving out hand-outs with the hope that our people would give them their vote in exchange.
“Never before in the history of our country, have we seen people being given fridges and stoves, eye glasses and funeral expenses being paid on the eve of an election only because someone wants a vote.
“Make no mistake, the resources that are being used to bribe you and to buy your vote is your own money…don’t let anybody buy your vote, democracy cannot be bought sisters and brothers.
The Congress leader affirmed the NDC’s commitment to its policy agenda and promised among other things to lower the tax burden on Grenadians, as well as improve the health system, restructure the state-owned Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) and the establishment of a predial larceny court as part of its commitment to agriculture.
“…We cannot tax our way to prosperity we must produce our way to prosperity and agriculture must be our shining light,” declared Burke who stated that the party’s election manifesto will be launched within the coming days.
Prior to the announcement of the election date, NDC Candidate Ali Dowden, who will compete against Prime Minister Mitchell in the upcoming poll, for the St. George North West seat, pointed to the failure of Dr. Mitchell and his NNP which held onto the reins of government for18 of the last 21 years, to empower citizens and lift them out of poverty to prosperity and sustainability.
Dowden told supporters that the NDC is not hungry for power as alleged by members of the NNP, but wants an opportunity to finish what it started in 2008.
“The NDC can lift you out of poverty and bring you into prosperity…They (NNP) were there for over 18 years, four terms. So, if anyone is hungry for power it is them, not us. We only want an opportunity to continue what we started by taking over 483 families out of poverty…
“We are about ensuring that the UWI Campus comes back on stream in St. Andrew, so that our young people can have a better education…they (NNP) stopped the project because it was your NDC party that started it and it is your NDC that will continue it, because that is vision.
Congress was voted out of office in 2013 in the wake of a vicious power struggle against Prime Minister Tillman Thomas in which the powerful General Secretary Peter David and government ministers – Glynis Roberts, Michael Church, and Karl Hood – were expelled from the party.
David has since joined forces with NNP and is the ruling party’s candidate for the Town of St. George in the March 13 election.
Former Education Minister and NDC Candidate for St. George South-east, Franka Alexis-Bernardine used the opportunity of Sunday’s meeting on the Carenage to reassure supporters of NDC’s readiness to unseat NNP.
Pointing to the many challenges being faced in Grenadian communities due to a lack of employment, and taxation on the backs of the people, Bernardine, who also served as a Senator in the country’s Parliament, reminded the nation that Election Day, is the day to vote for change by voting for NDC.
“The day of reckoning is at hand and the time has come (and) we have come full circle and once again we are ready…”, she said.
“This team of persons are ready to lead this country forward (and) finally get to take this blanket government off our backs,” she added.
NDC South St. George Candidate, Ray Roberts also addressed the gathering and outlined several achievable goals that the NDC will embark upon once taking office.
Recalling that in 1995, Dr. Mitchell and his group promised workers that they would not incur any personal income tax, Roberts labelled the NNP as liars, noting that “today workers are paying more income tax from their salaries.”
“Brothers and sisters, the NDC will fix that,” he said.
On the issue of contract labour, Roberts who is a former Labour Senator said, the “NDC shall recognise the Labour Code and make contract work (what it should be), contract work and permanent jobs, (what it should be), permanent jobs.
“That is a guarantee,” he remarked.
Roberts also promised to “bring skills training into communities to ensure that youths get an opportunity to equip themselves with a skill.
He also said that major focus will be placed by a Congress government on community projects, restructuring the Carnival product and training for track and field coaches.