The New Today


A leopard can’t change its spots

Everyone has a civic responsibility. As a people we need to ensure that certain democratic values are uphold that’s written in the Grenada Constitution which includes the Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedom, and Protection from inhumane treatment.

“To glorify democracy and to silence the people is a farce; to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.” – Paulo Freire.

When one reads through the Preamble of our Constitution and examine every minute detail from section (A-F), “it constitutes hope” and the outline, sums everything up perfectly. But somehow our Constitution has been succumbvented so many times in satisfying the egos of self-servient individuals who had no respect for the Grenada Constitution.

Our Constitution has been violated on numerous occasions and still is, as a concerned citizen – I have a lot of pertinent questions and it can only be answered by a constitutional lawyer or other members of the legal fraternity who are versed in Constitutional law.

I would like to know if it was legal for a sitting government Senator to hold a public service position as an ambassador and still be allowed to serve in the Senate.

Wasn’t this immoral and dishonest?

When it clearly states in section 26 (a) 26. – Disqualifications for appointment as Senator.

(a) He holds or is acting in any office or appointment (either individually or by reference to a class of public office or appointment). I’m guessing this wasn’t immoral and dishonest? I can vividly recall that on “GBN to the point.”

Dr. Mitchell made some disparaging statements as it relates to Gemma Bain-Thomas’ appointment as Cabinet Secretary by the then Tillman Thomas NDC-led administration and I quote, “To me that was an immoral, dishonest act. I think it was extremely unfortunate for the government then, to have appointed somebody permanent, as Cabinet Secretary”.

I want to know what was “IMMORAL and DISHONEST” as it relates to the appointment of a public officer?

Maybe I should jolt the memory of Dr. Mitchell and remind him of the skeleton of his past and the evil deeds that he has done. Dr. Mitchell did you remember when Cabinet met and created a post for Basil Harford, former Clerk of Parliament as Permanent Secretary for Labour and then on the same day it was dissolved and he was then dismissed.

Basil Harford was a man who had a family of five young school-aged children and a wife, likewise bank mortgage. I’m guessing that wasn’t immoral?

Dr. Mitchell do you remember the level of disrespect that was meted out to former Cabinet Secretary Gemma Bain Thomas? When she was duly removed and transferred from her constitutional position – was in breach of the constitution section 85(2) 85.- Appointment, etc., of permanent secretaries and certain other officers.

The former AG wanted to have her removed in “View of Public Interest.” She was shuffled around in various ministries including Foreign Affairs where she was insulted by those who didn’t want her there including a leading legal figure who said, “He didn’t wanted no mole in his office.” I’m guessing that wasn’t immoral and dishonest? I would like to know how a constitutional position as Cabinet Secretary becomes contractual to accommodate retirees.

I’m also wondering how a former Clerical Officer to the late Governor General, Sir Paul Scoon rose to the rank of Cabinet Secretary with the late Herbert Blaize administration.

Let us focus our attention on the appointments of two former Cabinet Secretaries who were both retirees. But first let’s take a look at what the constitution states.

The Grenada constitution clearly states in section 111 subsection (5) that retirees cannot hold positions in public service as public officers. Only a public officer working in service can do so.

Section 111 subsection (5) states the following.

111. Interpretation.

(5). For the purposes of this Constitution, a person shall not be regarded as holding an office by reason only of the fact that he is in receipt of a pension or other like allowance.

There you have it and there couldn’t be any other interpretation of what the aforementioned means. I’m asking is there legal ramifications for violating the Grenada constitution?

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Firstly let’s take a walk down memory lane and take a look at the Keith Mitchell-led administration that brought back Marjorie Budhoo in (95) a retired Public Officer, who has served under the first NNP administration headed by Prime Minister, the late Herbert Blaize Government (1984-89) as Cabinet Secretary.

She also served under the late Nicholas Braithwaite administration until she had attained the retirement age of sixty. She was then preceded by Gloria Payne-Banfield.

When Keith won 1995 election, Marjorie Budhoo was brought in to replace Gloria Payne-Banfield who served for a short time as Cabinet Secretary under his administration – she was then replaced by Budhoo and Payne-Banfield was given the position as Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for DPA.

Note well Payne-Banfield retained her position as Cabinet Secretary but with a different role because you can’t just abolish a constitutional position or just retire someone from the position unless the employer (which is the government) is or were going to consider 84 (8) of the constitution which states: (8) Every officer who is required to retire on abolition of his office or for the purpose of reorganisation of his Ministry or Department shall be entitled to pension and retiring benefits as if he had attained the compulsory retiring age.

Secondly, Beryl Isaac was brought out of retirement by Prime Minister Mitchell after he was elected into power following the 2013 general election to take over as Cabinet Secretary.

I would like to know whether these contractual retirees were receiving both pension and salary when they were supposed to forgo the lesser of the two while being employed as so-called public officers because I’m going according to what Section 111 subsection (5) of the Grenada constitution states. Did Cabinet approve that they should receive both?

If so, is that immoral and dishonest?

If my memory serves me right that’s how the Richard Duncan saga began when the Keith Mitchell government wanted to have their own way and he stood up against it and ended up paying the price, but he won his court case against the government for his dismal from the service. Wasn’t this immoral and dishonest?

My curious mind is asking whether the decisions that the following individuals made while serving as Cabinet Secretaries over the years – can it be viewed as NULL and VOID because their appointments were in violation of the Grenada constitution.

For instance if there’s any dispute we can refer to Section 102 subsection (1/2) (Reference of constitutional questions to High Court) as aforementioned below.

  1. – Reference of constitutional questions to High Court.

(1)Where any question as to the interpretation of this Constitution arises in any court of law established for Grenada (other than the Court of Appeal, the High Court or a court martial) and the court is of opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law the court shall refer the question to the High Court.

(2)Where any question is referred to the High Court in pursuance of this section, the High Court shall give its decision upon the question and the court in which the question arose shall dispose of the case in accordance with that decision or, if the decision is the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal or Her Majesty in Council, in accordance with the decision of the Court of Appeal or, as the case may be, Her Majesty in Council.

I’m calling on our constitutional guru Dr. Francis Alexis likewise other knowledgeable lawyers to shed some light on these issues as it relates to the violation of our constitution by those in authority.

“No matter how long a leopard stands in the rain, its spots will never wash away because you can’t change a person true character.”

Brian J.M. Joseph