My commitment to Grenada and its democratic process is firm and unshakable, but over the last few weeks I have been confronted with family tragedy, and I also needed to do some serious introspection.
I have found that the deeper the reflection upon the state of our nation Grenada, the more obvious is the realisation that as a people we need to identify and select genuine leaders who have the country’s overall interests as their foremost concern.
It is axiomatic that leaders set the tone for countries and, particularly in Grenada, the values of our Prime Minister are crucial, based on the relatively massive power and influence given to that office by our Constitution.
We are presently in a phase in our dear nation’s history in which, despite the numbers quoted, it is obvious to all who can discern, that our economic growth is one-dimensional and is stalling because our economic policies have failed. The very heart of our democracy is under threat and we are practically operating under a dictatorship, as all of our democratic institutions are being systematically undermined and compromised.
We have facilitated that shift to dictatorship by using our free choice to repeatedly repose our trust exclusively in one group of persons, and in particular, one person. He has acquired the experience to work out how to divide us and convince more of us to trust him rather than any other option, so he makes decisions with impunity, irrespective of their consequences to our nation.
Now that his decisions are backfiring in spectacular fashion and he has no answers, he simply chooses to avoid the major issues, to duck them. It is very plain that our Prime Minister repeatedly avoids issues that are most important to our country any time that he realises that dealing with them may not make him look good. In my view, as a leader it is far worse to the nation to avoid crucial issues than to deal with them frontally. After all, it is when things are not going well that we really need someone to guide us through.
Dr. Mitchell has shown himself to be a fair-weather leader, one who is only seen and heard from when he thinks that he has news to announce to the masses of people that he believes can be presented as good news. He has become the ducking doctor.
In most if not all countries, during the COVID crisis the country hears from its leader almost every day and even many times a day via social media. In Grenada we have heard more from the Minister of Health, medical doctors and police officers than from Dr. Mitchell and his Cabinet members.
It is most ironic that the very police officer that we have heard the most from during this crisis is one of the same officers on whose behalf I had to sue the Keith Mitchell government to secure his promotion several years ago. To date Dr. Mitchell has refused to pay the associated costs agreed with his expensive QC from St. Vincent in the matter.
The professionals will hopefully give helpful scientific information and data, but it is our leader, who claims than no one else can run Grenada, that we need to give us direction and not the Commissioner or some Superintendent of Police.
Why does our Prime Minister continue to hide behind the police and the doctors? It is Dr. Mitchell, by himself or with his Cabinet, not the doctors and police, who has taken upon himself to make laws and regulations to control our lives. Dr. Mitchell, you cannot duck the COVID crisis!
After spending all his time as Prime Minister cursing, blaming and vilifying WRB and telling brazen lies about the state of our electricity sector, the truth has been revealed by the ICSID arbitrators, and Dr. Mitchell and company has placed us in a financial hole of more than EC$200 million.
Since then, except for trying to justify the reckless conduct of his administration by going to Parliament in the midst of the COVID crisis and boldly lying to us, trying to suggest that it was all in the name of lower prices and regulation, Dr. Mitchell has become eerily quiet about that issue, while the debt continues to rise every day at the annual rate of 3.5%.
Dr. Mitchell has unveiled no plan or path to take our nation out of this most serious debt crisis that he has personally created by his deception. Worse yet, the holders of GRENLEC shares and the management of GRENLEC cannot properly advance their development plans in the midst of this uncertainty.
So, we are in real danger of experiencing serious decline to the sole provider of an essential service while Dr. Mitchell and the NNP “twiddle their thumbs” and look for a miracle cure to the problem that they created. Dr. Mitchell, you cannot duck the GRENLEC crisis!
OIL and GAS
After issuing an Exploration License just days before being booted out of office in 2008, after making political mileage of the failure of the NDC to press forward with the development of the oil and gas sector, after issuing a Development License in 2013, after announcing on a campaign platform days before elections in 2018 that oil and gas are about to drive our economy, we are faced with deafening silence once again.
Was it all a hoax? If not, then why not explain to Grenada why this main thrust of your economic plan has not taken off? We see how the economy of Trinidad and Tobago skyrocketed on the back of their oil and gas exploitation. We are consumed with envy when we hear Guyana, who started on this path long after us, boast of the many millions that are flowing into their national treasury in royalties from their oil and gas sector.
In Grenada it was lawsuits from the shady Mr. Grynberg, followed by news of more corruption, big promises, empty promises, boasts, hot gases from the mouth, but no oil and gas. Ole talk and political games will work no more so Dr. Mitchell just becomes dumb. Dr. Mitchell you cannot duck the oil and gas crisis!
WESTERN MAIN ROAD
Yes, the Western Main Road is broken. Yes, the Parliamentary representative for St. George North West, Dr. Mitchell, the Prime Minister, carries the blame on the face of the matter, and it is alleged that he was personally involved in causing the disaster.
Many citizens have called for an enquiry into the events and decisions that have led up to this disaster but there has been no response and no action. In the meantime, the topic has been avoided as the virtual plague, but the nation’s workers and citizens cannot avoid the matter because it puts us all in grave inconvenience and greater expense.
Time goes on and I guess that, just as with the COVID crisis, Dr. Mitchell hopes that the people who live in the western corridor of Grenada and those who use the Western Main Road will adjust to the “new norm” of using the narrow Mt. Moritz road in the same way we have been using the Mt. Nesbit road for decades now. What a shame!
We get poorer and poorer as a nation while our leaders continue to amass more wealth for themselves, their families and a small clique of supporters, at the expense of our poor farmers and other citizens.
Our roads are all collapsing while Dr. Mitchell manipulates the laws and uses his power to fatten the pockets of his cronies.
Time is of no essence! Value for money is of no essence! Quality of work and capability are of no essence! Inconvenience to the Grenadian public is of no essence! When will our western main road be addressed? Dr. Mitchell you cannot duck the Western Main Road crisis!
NUTMEG and COCOA
The issues with these industries predate the advent of Dr. Mitchell into the politics of Grenada. For more than 3 decades Dr. Mitchell has been in Parliament, and has been leading the country for more than 2 decades. We have all grown up with Grenada being called the Isle of Spice and we treasure the name and have always sought to keep that name to ourselves.
Our main spice has been the nutmeg, the nutmeg even has a notable presence in our national flag, and I always smile when I hear the word nutmeg used as a skill in football. We have become renowned for the quality of our cocoa and nutmeg.
The main challenge over the years has been concerning how to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of our produce; how to remove all forms of corruption from the industries; and how to obtain maximum benefit from the industries.
For all these years Dr. Mitchell has avoided addressing those issues and has made token efforts at central government involvement in the industries. Dr. Mitchell has never had a vision for agriculture, has been repeatedly heard to downplay the impact of agriculture on the economy of Grenada in general, and his budgets have consistently failed to provide for adequate investment in agriculture.
After Hurricane Ivan, Dr. Mitchell ignorantly propelled the nutmeg industry into disaster by failing to recognise the clear advantage we had in the market due to the quality of our nutmegs, and has caused Grenada to propagate inferior nutmegs, thus tainting our nutmeg quality.
He has doomed the industry to mediocrity and now plans to take over and make personal profit from the nutmeg and cocoa industries by passing legislation to personally control the industries by taking upon himself the power to grant licenses to his son and his friends, licenses that will enable direct personal benefit to accrue to his family and friends at the expense of the hard working farmers of our nation.
Dr. Mitchell created the disaster in the nutmeg and cocoa industries by his complete lack of knowledge and foresight and now he wants to virtually suck the very last drop of blood from the industries to put into his ever-growing fortune. At the same time, Dr. Mitchell has avoided and ducked the real issues that needed to be resolved in the industries. Dr. Mitchell you cannot duck the Nutmeg and Cocoa crisis!
It is time for us to save our dear Grenada! It is time to replace those ducking leaders by true Patriots for the Liberation and Unification of Grenada. Who will answer the clarion call and, as our national anthem says, pledge ourselves to Grenada with our heads, hearts, and hands in unity? We are definitely destined for greatness as a nation but we must make the sacrifices now!
Cajeton Hood is an attorney-at-law who served as Attorney General in the 2013-18 period in office of the New National Party Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.