The New Today

Commentary

Riding a blinkered horse

From the recent statements from our Prime Minister and his ministers, it is pellucid that this NNP administration has made a conscious decision to proceed with its plan for Grenada that is demonstrably destructive and obviously, solely designed to maintain its dominance in the affairs of Grenada.

The jockey, Keith Mitchell, is driving Grenada with only this goal in mind, trying to get Grenadians to focus on his brand of tourism-based economy, promising huge investments and jobs. Why do you think that the main partner in the NNP’s plan are the Chinese? It is very clear that the masses in China are accustomed to almost slave-like labour with a focus and intensity to simply complete the task ahead.

This is the vision of Keith Mitchell and the NNP for Grenada and its youths, given the failure to create meaningful employment year after year. As Bob Marley says, “Keep us hungry, and when you got to get some food your brother has got to be your enemy”. What a real ambush in the night!

This is the real legacy of Keith Claudius Mitchell. He has amassed tens of millions as Prime Minister of Grenada while the masses of people are made second-class citizens in their own country. When most of the prime land spots are sold to foreigners and he has gotten rich and the land prices are driven upwards, then the masses of young people get little jobs cleaning rooms, waiting on tables and serving the foreigners who own the best property.

The Grenada Revolution took us away from this same situation, but comrades Chess and Pedro have ganged up with the same one who they used to call a CIA agent, to take us right back where we were before the Revolution. It’s simply the circle of life.

The play book has not changed for all these decades. Well, who can blame Keith? It has worked fine for him, giving him, among other victories, 3 successes in elections of 15-0. So why should he change a winning formula? Just promise them prosperity year after year. Promise them oil and gas boom! Promise them hotel boom! Promise them jobs year after year, because the majority of the people have none and it’s only the majority that Keith needs to convince in order to win the elections.

After more than 7 years of selling our passports we have seen no completed project and we continue to lose our real estate to foreigners who will get richer and richer, and share the wealth with those who have facilitated them, while we struggle to make ends meet with some low-paying jobs.

That is the Keith and NNP plan: Lie, spin, do whatever, but keep the focus on impressing the majority.

The People’s protest
The reaction of the people, the youths, is now batted away as a fly to the eye, under the guise of lawlessness and lack of care for others. But Keith Mitchell has lost the moral authority to talk about lawlessness when he openly refuses to obey court orders and openly breaks the very laws that his Parliament has passed, all for his own personal pleasure and perceived benefit.

A most lawless leader is now moaning about lawlessness of the people that he leads by example. When Keith Mitchell says that he will not have lawlessness in Grenada he has clearly excluded himself because he sees himself to be above the law.

The law is for others who may be sent to jail for disobeying court orders, but Keith Mitchell can go public and boast that he does not agree with the orders of the court and essentially challenges anyone to get him to do what the court says. So why then is he complaining when Grenadians do the same thing that he has been modelling for decades?

Keith Mitchell is now trying to walk back his insulting language about disrespect, knowing that he shows no respect to Grenadians, and is now trying to play upon our good nature as a peaceful law-abiding country. Now he loves Jab Jab and even the “witty” calypsonians whose voices he has largely managed to stifle. What a joke!

Keith’s last national address was just another speech for the election campaign trail, with little substance, while carefully avoiding the pertinent and burning local issues. The only aim of the address was an attempt to impress the masses with more talk about projects and jobs to come, all in the future; with no plan for now except to say that he is cutting government spending. Is that really all that Keith Mitchell and the NNP have for us as Grenadians?

If Keith Mitchell and the NNP want to balance the budget and cut expenditure, why don’t they start with cutting the high-paying jobs for the friends, family and concubines? The thousands they are being paid per month is not disclosed because they are illegally paid out of funds like the Technical Assistance Fund and the National Transformation Fund.

Stop paying the son, and the concubines of Keith Mitchell and all the persons who are paid from state funds to do the political will of Keith Mitchell and the NNP.

Lie, spin, do whatever, but keep the focus on impressing the majority.

The COVID crisis
When viewed objectively, there is little evidence of any real scientific, structured or reasoned approach that has been or is being taken by this NNP administration, which has been directly responsible for Grenada’s favourable position with respect to the COVID.

We have an ambassador to China, where the crisis began and yet, in March while we were deep into the crisis, the official declaration was that our country had less than 2 dozen tests kits available. Our main response has been to shut everybody and everything down, even the farmer and fisherman plying their trade, and arbitrarily allow certain select persons to operate.

There has been no widespread assistance to the poor and needy in Grenada except to reduce the electricity bill by 30% for 3 months. There were several instances where persons left Grenada and we only knew that they were infected when they arrived in St. Lucia, Trinidad, Dominica and Canada.

Many persons who travelled into Grenada on flights which contained COVID-19 persons were not traced and isolated. Persons who ought to have been quarantined and isolated left quarantine and even travelled out of Grenada by air.

We have published that only 24 cases have been confirmed in Grenada, which have all recovered and we all know that this is not the full truth of the matter. Now the repeated response of our Prime Minister is to wait for a COVID vaccine while we open up the country to tourism activity and maintain a state of emergency.

Now, Keith owns Parliament so he can get a continued state of emergency with little debate, while he continues to maintain virtual martial law in Grenada and makes his own laws from Cabinet as the Supreme Ruler of Grenada. Even Maurice Bishop and his comrades never had it as good as this.

The harsh reality is that we need to pass an acceptable act in Parliament to cater for this crisis. I have said this publicly since early in the month of March, but the NNP refused to go to Parliament and when they went to Parliament it was not to deal frontally with the crisis.

Eventually, when they attempted to go to Parliament it was in a most surreptitious manner and with a bill that significantly compromised and arbitrarily attempted to abrogate our fundamental rights in a manner that was far in excess of that which was reasonably required to meet the existing situation in Grenada.

Now Keith wants us to believe that it was in a genuine attempt to protect Grenadians in general. Ok then, so how have we been protected since the failed attempt to pass that COVID bill?

You will notice that Keith Mitchell, in his last national address, apart from blaming people who hate him and have some other agenda, has sidestepped the laying out of a plan except to say that we hope to get a vaccine. Why is this clueless man lying to us in such a bold-faced manner? Even the USA is not sure to get a properly tested vaccine before 2021.

Besides talking about a vaccine, the Prime Minister has not even tried to address how ordinary Grenadians will have access to this expensive magic vaccine that will make the COVID just disappear. Mr. Prime Minister, what is the plan? Keith Mitchell sounds very much like Trump.

While science says that we need to do widespread testing, contact tracing and isolation, we are doing no community testing at all and partly because it is not free and not encouraged. The answer of Keith and the NNP seems to be to just test people coming into Grenada, demand that they isolate for a period and hope for the best.

I can excuse Trump who has no pretensions of being a scientist, but not Keith Mitchell who has a doctorate in Mathematics and is familiar with logical reasoning. Again, Grenadians have shown excellent cooperation so far in the face of this state of emergency and its attendant laws that are clearly unlawful, but the situation needs to be remedied.

Section 38.   Power to make laws

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Grenada.

The above sets out the limits of the power of Parliament to make laws. All laws made that impact and impinge upon our fundamental rights must be reasonably required and reasonably justifiable for dealing with the situation that exists in Grenada.

The Grenada Constitution makes the assumption that we are in a democratic society and I sometimes wonder if Keith Mitchell has a proper concept of what it means to operate in such a society, except for the need to go to the polls every 5 years.

Keith Mitchell’s only focus seems to be on convincing the majority of eligible voters in each of our 15 constituencies to put their trust in his NNP when elections come around.

For the avoidance of doubt, I fully support the passage of an act which will guide and protect Grenada whenever we face a public health crisis because even Keith Mitchell has gone on record as acknowledging that we do not have such an act in place at present.

However, rather than focusing on the need for such an act he simply skips over that fact, refers to a vaccine, promises prosperity again and avoids the issue that has been a grave embarrassment for him and his NNP.

Lie, spin, do whatever, but keep the focus on impressing the majority.

Our economy
One would have thought that a major lesson to be learnt from this COVID crisis is the glaring need for a self-sustaining economy in Grenada. The more independent we are as a people, the more we will be able to stand strong in the face of external financial shocks such as that brought about by the COVID crisis.

Further, the more we base our economy on local productive activities that are independent of external flows of finance, the better placed we would be to stand strong in the face of international crises. The word out there is that there is worse to come for the world and so we need to be internally strong and as independent as possible as a nation. But what is the response of this clueless NNP administration? Sell more of our national assets like real estate and passports! Build more massive hotels to bring more people into Grenada who bring with them their viruses and diseases!

We do not know when this current crisis will be over and when another similar crisis will occur but Keith and the NNP continue to build an economy that is more and more dependent on the inflow of people, tourists. Come on, Dr. Keith Claudius Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, does that make any logical sense?

What could be driving our Prime Minister, except some form of personal gain or reward? This over-reliance on tourism and tourism-related activities is designed to make the poor and middle class in Grenada poorer and more dependent on the government and its activities. This seems to be a deliberate ploy by the NNP to keep our people dependent and easier to control.

Rather than attempting to diversify the economy we are pointing it in the very direction that will be most affected by external issues that are not within our control. Under this NNP regime we are doomed to poverty and servitude to rich investors while we give away our prized assets.

I repeat, that since these hotels are being built on the sale of our passports we ought to, as a nation, at least have shares in the assets that are being produced from these sales. The people of Grenada must partly own every enterprise which is built around the sale of our assets, and this ought not to be negotiable, except for the percentage of that share.

The problem that Keith faces is that the more independent you make a people, the less you can control them because they do not need you at all or as much anymore. It is not in the interest of Keith and the NNP, therefore, to promote independent growth in the agriculture and other local industries.

For decades now, little or no incentives have been given to promote increased agriculture production and the inputs into agriculture have only been token in nature and value. The concept of self-sustenance has been just talk and only talk, with little or no action. No money has been combined with the mouth!

The message from the NNP is that agriculture leads to poverty and tourism brings in wealth so let’s run after the tourist dollars because they are easy to come. Remember that the saying, “easy come, easy go” will always be true.

Lie, spin, do whatever, but keep the focus on impressing the majority.

Our leadership
What an insulting statement by our Prime Minister! What an audacious statement by this desperate despot and dictator! This is not a monarchy of the Mitchells! What utter nonsense about handing over!

Keith Mitchell has become so comfortable that he has forgotten that he has nothing to hand over! He seems to have forgotten that he has been elected as a servant of the people of Grenada and not a king with a throne to hand over!

Grenada has moved on from colonialism, from Gairyism, from revolutionism and we will move on boldly from Keithism. When Keith Mitchell has amassed enough wealth, he is free to ride off into the sunset and Grenada will move on and build. This talk about being a good leader is one for his NNP party and not for our nation.

Grenada, Keith has taken us all for granted and we need to show him when he presents himself next time for election that he is meant to be our servant and not our lord and master. Keith is simply playing a game with Grenada and has no intention to step away from politics. He is not resigning; he will contest the next elections and lose whatever seat he contests.

All this talk about the reshuffle of his Cabinet is not the business of the public at this time so why is he telling us about it? It is between Keith Mitchell and the Governor General and whoever he takes advice from.

This is what section 58 (4) of the Constitution says.

(4) Appointments to the office of Minister, other than the office of Prime Minister, shall be made by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, from among the Senators and the members of the House of Representatives.

This explanation about giving people experience is just a load of BS! Cabinet is not the place for trial and error and experiments! Come on, Grenada, does Keith Mitchell think that we are so foolish to believe this abject nonsense? This is simply a power play to show Cabinet members who is in control, and that he can shuffle them about just like a pack of cards so they should not get comfortable.

In other words, if each one does not comply with his demands he will just move them out and put someone who has not even been elected to the House of Representatives, like Simon Stiell or Winston Garraway. Keith Mitchell needs to stop his power plays and put competent and committed persons to manage the ministries as ministers.

So, when you see Pamela Moses and her team, including other members of Parliament, get insulted by the Chinese she has to just “suck it up” and justify it by talking about the potential jobs for Grenadians. Yes, the hundreds of gardeners, maids, barmen, pool cleaners, receptionists and so on who will be hired in years to come.

But the trick is that the unemployment is high and these people will be happy for any little work and will thank Keith Mitchell and vote for him, causing him to maintain his majority support in the constituencies. Then Keith Mitchell simply ignores the insult because he agrees with the protective approach of his Chinese friends to hide the atrocities that our environment is suffering.

Yes Keith, Lie, spin, do whatever, but keep the focus on impressing the majority.

The blinkered horse is galloping straight down the road which leads to economic hardship, and Grenada is being pulled along behind. With all his smooth talking, the fact is that Keith Mitchell has led Grenada to an economic position that is now worse than all our OECS neighbours and most Caribbean countries, in terms of poverty and employment levels. We have slipped behind Guyana and are ranking with Haiti. Grenada, we can do better so you know what the answer is!

Cajeton Hood is an attorney-at-law by profession and served as Attorney General during the 2013-18 term in office of the New National Party Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

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