The New Today

Commentary

The Patriotic Vine: A Leader for Grenada? Who?

Leadership of the people is about a relationship in which one individual has been given the authority of the nation to spearhead the task of Nation building. It is a sovereign act of the people which does not create a sovereign over the people.

Since the days of ‘Internal Self-Government’, political parties have given ‘leaders’ to Grenada. At every turn, with the limited exceptions of Brathwaite and Tillman, these ‘leaders’ have dedicated themselves more to exercising power than to delivering service.

The result is that genuine progress of the Grenadian society has lagged while a few have fared well feeding on the spoils of Office. In other words, the political models have treated the people as incidental to party priorities and the personal elevation of the party leader.

Ours has been the story of an under-developed democracy. Much of the pain we have experienced has been due to the exploitation of weaknesses in the Independence Constitution.

In fact, the limitations of the political parties have become the limitations of the nation. This is extremely sad!

There is a vast and important difference between party leader and national leader. He who holds party leadership owes his first responsibility to his party. The qualities and skills required to be party leader are hardly those required of a national leader. While the party tends to prioritise internal unity (mostly to promote its electability), the building of national unity among the people is a different mandate and calls for a different standard.

Providing the inspiration to enable the nation to “aspire, build, advance” as mandated in the National Anthem, is a solemn call on the leader of the nation. So too, with respect to establishing the nation as “one people, one family”. These requirements are onerous, but they are essential to the obligations of leading the people. Not so for the party!

A critical piece of evidence of failed leadership in Grenada is the fact that political parties have been generally motivated by convenience rather than careful preparation for leadership. That consistent failing calls their purpose into question. The worst examples of this failure are found in the NJM, NDC and the NNP.

The NJM never concerned itself about the character of the leader. That omission or indifference was worsened by the vote in favour of ‘Joint Leadership’. By the time they came to that cultural misfit, they had only the party’s interests in mind and were plainly unconcerned about the Grenadian people.

Thankfully, facts are what they are. The top people in the NJM were wedded to state power, not to leadership of the nation. By extension, the second tier of the NJM, occupied then by people like Peter David, Chester Humphrey and Victor Burke was never prepared for leadership and there is no evidence that such preparation has occurred since 1983.

There is no doubt that the remnants of the Revolution have retained an appetite for state power. However, there are grave doubts as to whether they have the character, skills, commitment and understanding to lead the Grenadian nation. The people must confront and disqualify those having that appetite with all their might and wisdom.

We have a duty to shine our rear-view mirrors, look around and behind us, if we are to keep safe. Seriously, it is time that cultural charm (charisma) is kept to its limits. It cannot be enough to base a leadership claim on one’s likeability and love for people, as important as that is.

It is time that the people tell the political parties that more is needed to get their support. Let us begin by asking what they believe to be the purpose of leadership. Then let us ask how they view power and its use. And then ask them how they have prepared themselves to lead the people.

Leadership of the people cannot be approached outside of the historical circumstances and the prevailing challenges of nationhood. When these are put on the table, in 2020, it will be seen to be very wrong for the NNP to offer Grenada a successor to Keith Mitchell who is a replica of himself.

One who is a lawmaker and a lawbreaker at the same time must be unstable in all his ways. It will also be wrong to think that a smiling face and a generous pocket are sufficient criteria for leadership of Grenada. The times call for new approaches to the leadership promise and purpose.

It is a downright insult for one in the NNP’s ‘Green Food Chain’ to seek to influence public opinion on those grounds, though he is entitled to his opinion. Please tell us whether Peter was a ‘man of peace’ during the events of October 1983? And was he a ‘man of peace’ when he oiled the downfall of his own NDC Government over two years of recklessness?

One is hearing the repugnant noise of impending conflict which must not be listened to by sensible Grenadians. By the way, perhaps the ‘Gentle Ram’ ought to disclose who will stand alongside Peter as his ‘Joint Leader’! Just breaking things down, Comrade! So doh line meh up!

There is urgency in Grenada, and that is to embark upon a discourse on leadership for ‘The New Future’. The next fifty years should not resemble the last fifty years of our existence. We should not be overly concerned with the state of the political parties, nor should we continue to be dependent on them to give us their party leader to lead Grenada.

We must set in train a process of leadership development and identify the requirements, including cultural charms and intellectual capacity, for dealing with our survival needs, uniting the nation, and building progress.

The NNP leader may think that it is in his gift to pick and impose a successor. Fine, in so far as he owns the party and the party is not a truly democratic institution. A conscripted party member may think that he should inherit the leadership because he loves people. Fine, so long as he does not ‘invest’ his money to make it happen. But the people, in 2020, ought not to embrace any such narrow-minded offerings. The results are plainly foreseeable, and they are bad for Grenada.

William Joseph

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