THE NEW TODAY holds strongly to the view that the recent reshuffle of the Cabinet of Ministers in Grenada had to do with consolidation of power and not greater efficiency within the government.
The new construct of Fisheries with Sports, Culture and The Arts that is now placed in the hands of Minister Yolande Bain-Horsford is quite puzzling for many reasons.
These are portfolios that should be put in the hands of a much younger person and not an individual who is fast approaching the twilight of her political career.
It is established that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell sees himself as a political guru of the highest order and relies on his deputy, Gregory Bowen to run the day-to-day machinery of the government.
This newspaper has concluded that in the face of a youth rebellion against his continued leadership of the country, the ageing 74-year old Prime Minister has played the game true to form – turn to the “old guards” within the ruling New National Party (NNP) for safety and to try and ride the storm.
It is the first time in his political career which started way back in 1972 – some 48 years ago that Dr. Mitchell has been faced with the kind of rebellion among the young people – both within the NNP itself and in the broader society.
The move by the Prime Minister to place the portfolio of Youth Development directly under his control sends the message that he intends to confront the challenge posed to his leadership directly and frontal with the young turks.
The most significant and important question to be asked in this period is the following: Can anyone expect a 74-year old individual to bring visionary leadership to today’s youth who operate on a different planet – one that we now call the Social Media platform?
The Prime Minister is not known to be IT savvy and is therefore not in a position to influence the thought process of the youth in the arena where they assemble in mass numbers.
It is expected that the budget for Youth Development in fiscal 2021 will be huge out of a belief that the young people will be attracted like a magnet to the money on offer.
This newspaper is aware that some attention is being generated with the transfer of Peter David from the prestigious Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The former Senator for Agriculture in the Upper House, Keith Clouden has welcomed this change but was quick to add that the NNP administration of PM Mitchell has a history of showing scant respect and a lack of support for agriculture.
The record of the Prime Minister in agriculture speaks for itself during his 20 year stint as head of the NNP government in office.
Mr. Clouden described the current Minister of Agriculture, Yolande Bain-Horsford who was given the assignment in 2018 by the Prime Minister as the worst Minister of Agriculture in the history of the country.
Did the minister fail to perform due to the lack of financial resources and support from a government that placed more emphasis on selling Passports to foreigners and building hotels as the main plank of its development plan?
Dr. Mitchell has openly stated that agriculture has no money in it and his father who was a farmer, died penniless, and over the years showed clear signs of using the Ministry of Agriculture as the “dumping ground” for some ministers who are on their way out of frontline politics.
Two MP’s immediately come to mind – current Ambassador to Cuba, Claris Charles was relegated to Agriculture by Dr. Mitchell who decided to give the Education portfolio to Augustine John after the 1999 election and then Roland Bhola – a few months before he signaled that he was bowing out as MP for St. Andrew North-east in 2013.
Is the new Minister of Finance, Gregory Bowen, a member of the NNP Old Guard, willing to do an about turn around and set aside a massive budget for Minister David in the Ministry of Agriculture?
This newspaper is predicting that Minister David will face a similar fate as the other Ministers of Agriculture due to the lack of a serious budget to make agriculture a successful ministry.
The new Agriculture Minister is not coming to the job with any known plan and knowledge for the development of the sector and agriculture is not an overnight dream but calls for someone with the necessary skills to make a difference.
The other issue is the fact that Minister David is also ageing and might be hard-pressed to venture into the difficult terrain where most of the farmers can be found working their lands.
Covid-19 has left the current government strapped for cash and it is quite obvious that a large slice will be taken by the Office of the Prime Minister to combat the youth rebellion which has the potential to send Dr.Mitchell into permanent retirement.
THE NEW TODAY is not convinced about the “ole talk” of setting the stage for transition, as the current holder of the office of Prime Minister is very much still hungry to hold onto his power and dominance over Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
There is also no doubt that the importance of Peter David is no longer relevant to the Prime Minister as post-2013 when he was in the process of switching from Congress to NNP to help remove then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas from power.
Oliver Joseph might become the minister to clean up the Foreign Service of the mass influx of pro-Peter David elements as the Prime Minister and the NNP Old guards reassert themselves and take full control of the reins of government.
It is a reshuffle that will be pleasing to the Prime Minister in the circumstances as he starts to look at election anytime from the middle of next year to whenever he feels comfortable to seek another 5-year mandate from the electorate.
This cabinet reshuffle amounts to a “holding government” as Dr. Mitchell will be forced to take time out to look for a younger brigade to present to the electorate whenever the election bell tolls.