The New Today

Commentary

The good, the bad and the ugly

Oh Grenada, when will our travails come to an end and we begin to behave as a country that has grown from the unpredictable and unsettled trauma of adolescence into the reliable conduct of an adult democracy?

When I reflect upon some of the decisions made by our leaders, with the likely impact upon our society as a whole, I have to pinch myself, wondering if I am not in a Clint Eastwood western movie or a script written by Quentin Tarantino.

I am truly baffled when I attempt to decipher, as a reasonable member of society, what factors enter into the decision-making process at the highest levels in Grenada. I am appalled at the deception that is portrayed and perpetuated at those high levels by those who hold public office and hold the public trust under oaths of office to protect and defend the Constitution of Grenada and its broad interests.

One of the reasons that I took a pause from writing was to allow the well-advertised Cabinet reshuffle that has been announced, to take its course.

The Prime Minister has removed himself from direct responsibility for the Ministry of Finance where his son was under his direct oversight and where his intimate relationship with a senior public servant in the Ministry of Finance was challenged before the Integrity Commission.

The public servant has resigned from her official public service post since the making of the complaint and now Keith Mitchell has removed himself from the ministry. That is GOOD. The Prime Minister has removed Peter David from responsibility for the Ministry of Foreign affairs, where his daughter serves as an ambassador and came under his direct oversight. That is GOOD.

The Integrity Commission has recognised that situations like these create potential conflicts of interest which are contrary to law. That is Good. However, they go on to say that I did not prove that the Prime Minister was having an intimate relationship with the female public officer.

Come on! Can Mrs. Trotman-Joseph and her team be really serious about this? You say that you had an investigation and yet you did not even ask Keith Mitchell whether the public servant was his concubine? Now you turn around and ask me to prove it? That is UGLY! Even worse yet, how dare you try to implicate me, as a complainant, to intimate that I was the Attorney General at the time of the appointment of the son of the Prime Minister in July 2018?

It is common knowledge, and the records will show, that I demitted office more than 9 months before that date? That is even more UGLY! It is obvious that the principle seems to be that when you cannot defend an action then you try to smear the name of the one who makes the complaint. You cannot fight the message so try to destroy the messenger! What an UGLY Integrity Commission!

For several months now we have advertised to our people and the world in general that we are free of the COVID-19 virus infection in Grenada. If this is indeed true and it is believed by our leaders, then we need to begin to act as if it is true and allow our people to restart their lives in as normal a fashion as possible.

If this is true then there is no more the need for the existence of a state of emergency in Grenada. If this is true then all we need is to diligently protect our borders and protect our citizens from the entry of the virus into Grenada. We have passed regulations to quarantine persons entering into Grenada and to track their movements while awaiting full confirmation of their virus status. That is GOOD!

However, there must be a scientific balance found between protecting from the virus and restarting the economy for the benefit of the poor and middle-class persons, the small business owners and other investors in Grenada.

Locking us all down is BAD for our health, BAD for our finances, BAD for our image! With all the powers that have been given to certain persons, then why is it that persons who are supposed to be in lockdown for the virus are out in the community and away from their designated location. That is BAD!

Furthermore, this is not the first time someone has escaped our COVID custody. Rather than punish the entire population, why not target the likely super spreader events and locations that have been scientifically identified?

Concerning the conduct of business during this crisis period, all business types are not the same with respect to the risk factor. Bars and restaurants, where there is more noise due to music or crowds, and people tend to talk louder, are super spreader locations for the spread of the virus.

Locations where there is singing and shouting, or any action that tends to cause the more forcefully propulsion of matter from a person’s mouth, places the general public at greater risk, but the public is not being educated regarding these issues. Is it because certain persons in high places have financial interest in some of these high-risk enterprises? That is BAD!

I do not rejoice in the fall or failure of any person because my motto is, “today is you and tomorrow maybe me”, but we must guard against that individual’s mistake or sin being allowed to fester or affect other persons or the public interest at large.

How does this administration justify the continuance of a person in as high an office as that of a Senator while that person has been charged with the commission of an aggravated criminal offence against a female during the course of his official duties? This post is not one where the public choice has placed that person in the post, like a person in the House of Representatives.

Our Prime Minister has appointed the individual who has allegedly committed an aggravated crime while on duty. That is BAD! Is our Prime Minister sending out the signal that he condones assaults against women?

Where has our Prime Minister’s highly publicised “respect for the women of our nation” disappeared to? Is it simply lip service to our women? Then again, how can we set such low standards and expect our young people to rise higher than those standards that we set?

What does our Prime Minister say to our youth about this, now that he has taken on the portfolio of Youth Affairs? This is so very UGLY! This again shows the utter disrespect that our Prime Minister has for law and order and our court system.

How can it be a small matter when a public officer, during the course of his substantive duties, assaults a female member of the public in the work place and the Commissioner of Police determines that there is sufficient reason to lay charge(s) against that public officer?

Had it been the average public officer, that person would have been on suspension at half pay pending the conclusion of the matter. This is very UGLY!

We have a Cabinet that is BAD and UGLY and I make the case that every member of that body should resign and if not, they all should be rejected by the people at the polls for malfeasance in public office. My considered view is that there is no genuine caring, by this group, for the poor and disaffected persons in Grenada. It is obvious that whatever apparent acts of caring which may come from this group are irrevocably attached with political strings.

The priority of the distribution of the resources of this country is to enhance the survival of this administration and to shamelessly make that point clear to dependent persons in Grenada. The message is, “support us blindly and fully, or else”! A young woman visits the Prime Minister and seeks assistance for her plight, 4 children, 2 attending Secondary school in parish of St. George and one of them topping the CPEA, a baby which is less than a year old and having an issue with her accommodation to the extent that relevant matters are before the court.

The young woman has made efforts to straighten up her life and attends a Pentecostal church. The Prime Minister does not refer her to the Housing Minister or ministry but to his head of security, who identifies a lot of land in the St. George North West constituency for her purchase.

Cabinet officially communicates the offer for sale to the woman who, with the assistance of her boyfriend, secures a loan with a lending institution and pays the Treasury the complete price for the land. During the process of identifying the land, the head of security seeks sexual favours from the woman and when they do not materialise, in true Donald Trump fashion, he not only grabs her by the p–y but he penetrates her using his fingers.

The matter is personally reported back to the Prime Minister and then an official complaint is made with the Criminal Investigation Department. After several months, during which time the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions becomes involved, the chief of security is charged with certain indictable (serious) offences.

Would you believe that the Cabinet of Grenada dares to now say to the woman after the chief of security has been charged and after she has paid for the land, that they want to take back the land and send her to St. Andrew or somewhere “behind God’s back” in St. David?

The Cabinet has provided no reason for the latest decision. Even workers in the Ministry of Lands are saying to the woman that the Cabinet has done this because she dared to report the head of security to the police. In doing this the Cabinet has openly condoned the alleged criminal actions of a member of their political party and is punishing a poor young mother of smart Grenadian children for standing up for her right to maintain her integrity and not have her body abused by an incontinent and immoral married man.

This not just the Prime Minister! This is the entire Cabinet of Grenada, including the female Minister of Religious affairs and all the other professing Christians in the Cabinet. For Keith Mitchell, it is obviously politics over decency, politics over morality, politics over law and order, politics over economics! We have sunk to record low as a nation! This is unlawful, BAD and UGLY!

Two days ago, I attended a virtual session of the Court of Appeal where the Chief Justice was lamenting the awful and deteriorating status of administration of justice in Grenada. On behalf of the DPP it was admitted that several serious cases have had to be discontinued because the Supreme Court Registry could not provide transcripts of the trials where the accused were found guilty.

I can say as a fact that the Ministry of Finance, through Permanent Secretary Timothy Antoine, was presented in 2014, for the consideration of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, with an invoice of a modest cost for providing a modern recording system for Grenada that has the capability of providing same-day transcripts of trials.

It is a similar system that is being used at the Caribbean Court of Appeal and it was recommended by the then President of the court, Sir Dennis Byron. While tens of thousands of dollars are being spent on giving fat cheques to political supporters and personal friends, the administration of justice in Grenada is not being properly funded and is in a deplorable state. What a BAD and UGLY state of affairs!

Yes, this is our Grenada at this time; a little GOOD but lots of BAD and UGLY. Look out Grenada, today is your neighbour, but tomorrow just might be you!

Cajeton Hood is an attorney-at-law and served as Attorney General in the 2013-18 period in government of the New National Party of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

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