If general elections were to be called today, in Grenada, would the Interim Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Adrian ‘Persuader’ Thomas (former public officer, trade unionist and calypsonian), be considered for taking the party into the elections, without any controversy and commotion which sadly may lead to its critical collapse? Does the constitution of the NDC speak about such condition? Does the constitution mention anything about an Interim Political Leader? Does the constitution provide clearly about the role and status of a Deputy Political Leader, and about the treatment and procedure when the Political Leader steps-down or becomes sick or deceased; whether or not the party is in Government? A party can seriously suffer instability and vulnerability when there is uncertainty with publicity about the state of the position, and /or of the profile and performance of its Political Leader which is the party’s ‘symbol and stay’.
This does not necessarily be the case, especially for a properly organized and functional entity; however, the lack of a well-installed leader can cause incapacity and uneasiness within the entity. When this disarray scenario is the case for an opposing party, then it is difficult to demonstrate team spirit, to satisfy and motivate followers, to impress and attract the voting populace, to partake in national dialogues and endeavours, to be forceful in confronting the governing administration, and to be right and ready on the electoral mechanism. Particularly; the preoccupation of the NDC with its leadership issue may be the main factor for the party has not been able also to engage and liaise with “the best talents on showcase for the good of Grenada”, considering those who are offering open constructive criticisms, the stalwart technical persons, and all economic sectors including the various civil society organisations. In fact; this grounding relationship with and respect for the ‘general masses’, may well be the fundamental ingredient of the “‘Campaign of Conversations for Consensus’” which political critic and former member of the NDC, William Joseph, pointed-out in his ‘good will’ public letter to the party (https://www.thenewtodaygrenada.com/commentary/the-patriotic-vinesecond-letter-to-the-ndc-hierarchy/#).
The ‘prolonged and pitiful’ pressing circumstances which are facing the NDC, in terms of the leadership issue, present a nice breeding soil for any external leadership conspiracy against the party to take root and to bear fruits of internal strife. Naturally; the lucrative target is the position of leadership towards obtaining political supremacy and absolute power in the nation, by whatever means and at whatever cost. In fact; pompousness and shortsightedness may have helped not to cause better statistical data and political mileage of the NDC-party at the last elections. It could be argued that, around that occasion in March 2018, Mrs. Franka Alexis-Bernardine was most suited strategically as the Deputy Political Leader, especially in reflecting the national recognition that she gained as a senior Government Minister and the prominence of the feminine thrust in national policies.
Infightings should be very familiar and fresh in the minds of all (old and young) Grenadians; and particularly, the dangers and damages which those political tussles brought on the people and nation should never be forgotten. Typically is the self-destruction of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), with the brutal killing of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in October 1983, allegedly due to a breakdown in the agreement on a so-called Joint Leadership between himself and his Deputy Bernard Coard. Typical instances to raise also are the alleged conspired ‘backstabbing’ of Prime Minister Herbert Blaize at the January 1989 convention of the New National Party (NNP) by Dr Keith Mitchell, for him to become the party’s political leader; and the alleged clandestine ploy of undermining the electioneering of NDC’s political leader, Tillman Thomas, by some colleague-candidates of the party during the 2008 campaign, in an effort for him to lose his constituency seat and so be robbed of been appointed prime minister. Indeed; this political hypocrisy, expediency and conspiracy is ideal only in Grenada!
Grenadians seem to have a tendency for political battles in its veins, featuring from colonial times with the waging of wars between the French and the English for the control and exploitation of the people and their resources. Notably interesting though, is that the upheavals in parties and governments from March 1979 with the military overthrow of Eric Mathew Gairy’s Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) leading to the formation of the PRG have been masterminded virtually by the same players up to now. Fortunately NDC has survived at least two perceived uprisings, but the stimulating or conducive agents for materialization still persist. Moreover; the depressing elections results and prevailing pressing circumstances of the party added to the power-hungry lust, the political-revenge resolution and the One-Party State Project Grenada make the leadership conspiracy active.
The unsettled leadership issue of the NDC would tend to make the party vulnerable and advantageous to unscrupulous persons, with a ploy to hold its executive as political hostage for ‘unreasonable compromises’. Intense vigilance is imperative to preserve the brand, platform and image of the party, and this ought to be the conscious and conscientious role of NDC’s founding and institutional members, including the financiers and former parliamentarians. It cannot be reiterated too much, that the utterances from various quarters for ‘young and / or fresh blood, minds and thinking’ and “to explore other leadership options” and to envision “‘New Age Politics’”, must be contextualized and controlled. In recent times; there has been a ‘flood’ of intakes and deal-making opportunists of NNP’s runaways into the NDC-party, but whilst there are sweet public declarations ‘sanctified with scriptures’, what are these individuals bringing to the table and have they unmasked anything about NNP and Mitchell, especially on the Parliamentary Elections Office? Many of the runaways have conspired against, castigated and crucified NDC’s former Political Leader Nazim Burke, even with electoral fraud.
It would not be very difficult to argue convincingly that Prime Minister Mitchell has not being able to effect good governance, but it will be much easier to explain that he knows how to win general elections and to keep his political party and Government Cabinet unharmed. Mitchell asserts authority, demands loyalty, and exhibits sectoral links, strengths and influences. Recognizing the intrigues and traps about the envy for political power, Mitchell on one side draws-on ‘naive and weak’, especially females of the rural communities, with attractive carrots such as the gratuity and pension for parliamentarians. At the other extreme, he courts and redeems ‘experienced and strong’, especially historic enemies, with the coveted carrot of political prominence but holds them at bay with trump cards to his chest. The ‘worth and custody’ placed on political leadership which is typically the precursor evolving into prime ministership has never been underestimated by Mitchell, as is evident that for over thirty (30) years he has been NNP’s leader and recently he publicly communicated that there is a decision not “to hand over the reigns” and thus he “will certainly run” for the next elections which are constitutionally-due in 2023, although could be sooner; (https://www.caribbeannationalweekly.com/caribbean-breaking-news-featured/prime-minister-of-grenada-dr-keith-mitchell-to-contest-next-election/).
On the other hand; NDC’s executive has being boasting that the party is filled with qualified and independent intellectuals, all fit for political leadership; and also promoting that NDC “is a party for all”, welcoming new disciples. However; how can the egotistical ridiculing and holding skeptical the resignation and disassociation of Honourable Tobias Clement from Mitchell’s NNP, instead of expeditiously supporting, coordinating with and utilizing his position as Leader of the Opposition to submit pertinent questions in the Parliament, be justified, especially when there is the readily entertaining of other runaways, all “having seen the belly of the beast”?
Has it dawn on anyone that individuals could be planted into the NDC, as part of the leadership conspiracy or of a political strategy, to ‘enrich’ the legacy of Mitchell, by having him realize a socialist-democratic National Unity Government of a universal coalition of forces on the ‘Chinese-input’ National Sustainable Development Plan for Project Grenada; and maybe then “to hand over the reigns” of power to the ‘prearranged’ enthusiastic cohort?
The NDC needs to see itself as, and demonstrates that it is, not simply the main opposition party but significantly the ‘alternative party and government in-waiting’, on the basis of its Mission and Vision, its period of existence, and its percentage of the voting population. Really; there is no need to be subservient to political parasites, other than to adjust and consolidate aptly, forging ahead “to make a qualitative difference” with the source and strength based on the Bible, the National Anthem and the Constitution, as offered by Mr. Joseph (cited above).
By J K Roberts, Sound Public Policies Advocate