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Grenada’s opposition NDC party plagued by leadership conspiracy – (Part One)

…. I announce my resignation as Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress (‘NDC’) with immediate effect. I do so with no regrets, bitterness or resentment but in the genuine desire to afford the party the opportunity to explore other leadership options, as we embark on this journey of renewal and rebuilding our party to achieve its organisational goals. …. I wish to make it abundantly clear that I am not being pushed out by anyone.…

These were some of the words of renowned attorney, seasoned politician, economic administrator, and clearly ‘still youthful’, Victor Nazim Burke, at the NDC’s General Council held on July 1st, 2018.

Despite the reasons put forward by Mr. Burke for the resignation and his rebuttals to the various perspectives on the resignation, even from steadfast sympathisers, the dimensions and dynamics of the game of politics would kindle deep considerations and anxious expectations.

The resignation can be construed either as a proper or an unwarranted gesture, as politically-correct or politically-coward, or maybe as a confession of leadership failure, especially as a result of the ‘clean sweep’ loss by the NDC at the 13 March 2018 general elections. Indeed; no one else other than Burke himself should know his mind, conscience and intent on the situation.

It was relevant and realistic for Burke also to express, “There are those among us (‘NDC’) who argue strongly and passionately that my stepping down means that we are giving in to the mischievous and arrogant designs of the (‘New National Party’) NNP leadership to see me removed as NDC Leader at any cost and to decide who should lead our party.

“…I wish to assure you that my political script is not, and will never be written by the NNP.”

As was raised in the previously internet-circulated article, “The Powerful Relevance Of NDC In Opposition”, the resolute viewpoint remains that “Whether or not the prolonged calls are justifiable that Nazim Burke should not be the political leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), it would be pitiful if the real intention of the initiation and invigoration of those calls is escaped.

To miss the political ploy which has been propagated not merely to debase Burke, but to destroy the NDC and to debilitate any political opposition in Grenada, is to succumb to the thrust toward eroding the democratic sovereignty gained by the tremendous struggles and sacrifices of the labour and political pioneers, and to enter into a new governance dimension which can be a nightmare experience for the nation. …. would have a consolidation of the NNP and the One Party State.….”

It should be instructive to realise that Burke has been extremely active and in the forefront to stage a robust challenge to the Keith Mitchell’s NNP government, when he joined the NDC in or around the year 2000, along with other “bald-head boys” comrades, such as Peter David, from the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of March 1979– October 1983.

The NDC then was in a government drought since June 1995 and had been sifted from the Parliament through the January 1999 polls, even though the elections were marked by many allegations of gross malfeasance and corruption by Mitchell.

With passionate political pulsation and having the backing of prominent institutions, primarily the Grenada Bar Association and the Grenada Trades Union Council, those former PRG players embarked on a journey of “renewal and rebuilding” the NDC party “to achieve its organisational goals”.

Ultimately, under the leadership of Mr. Tillman Thomas, an ‘abused prisoner’ of the PRG, NDC secured the July 2008 elections, with tremendous jubilation by the wide cross-sections of the people.

It is generally felt that abhorrence to Burke surfaced when it became apparent that he established closeness with Prime Minister Thomas and that Thomas considered him to be second in-line, as opposed to Peter David who has been seen ‘the favourite’ by some of the upper echelon of the NDC-party.

Sensing a lack of cooperation by all party-officials on the government’s principles, policies and projects, and an internal ‘power struggle’ including a component to remove Thomas, induced the tabling of a motion in the Parliament for a No Confidence Vote by Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell, on the grounds that there exists a “dysfunctional government that lacks leadership and direction”.

Related:  Grenada’s Opposition NDC party plagued by leadership conspiracy - (Part Two)

The damaging quandary within the NDC soared and became pronounced when certain members were expelled from the party and then were accommodated by the NNP and thereby resulting in it regaining another landslide control of the government in February 2013, and now with the NNP riveting as a formidable foe; also review the previous article “Grenada’s 2018 Elections Win : Keith Mitchell Or Peter David?”.

The political onslaught on the NDC focused heavily on the leadership ‘qualifications and potentials’ of Tillman Thomas and Nazim Burke, been bolstered with the catalyst and momentum for revenge by the expelled group.

Following the defeat at the 2013 polls, it had been reported in the local Caribupdate Weekly newspaper that, “Thomas must “exit gracefully and allow the NDC the opportunity to try and rebuild with fresh blood”.

“…The behaviour of Thomas surely must be worrying to many senior members of the party who are quite aware that a Thomas-led NDC is only gratifying to the party’s base and it’s unlikely to ever deliver a general election victory to the National Democratic Congress, …. Resign, Mr. Thomas. It’ll be good for your political legacy, …. It’ll be good for your party’s future survival.”

Oh what political gamesmanship the NDC has been ‘haunted and taunted’ with, and for which it may have fallen for, even to this day without being able to move out of this ‘spiraling trap’ and which has also captured some of the unsuspecting rank and file membership of the party.

The issue of leadership would continue to confound NDC and may degenerate into serious chaos and loss, if not controlled meticulously and quickly.

The party is bombarded with ‘conflicting rationales’ on making a suitable choice of political leader, the various inputs coming intensely from left, right and centre, from within and without, and also including from past affiliates and continuous distracters.

Is the advocating for a coalition of forces, with NDC bringing all hands on deck to remove the Mitchell’s regime in the national interest of Grenada, involved also the choice of leadership?

Unfortunately having not settled on a ‘fixed’ political leader after the understandable resignation in November 2020 of regionally proven expert in Science and Education, Mrs. Franka Alexis‐Bernardine, the successor to Burke, and moreso with an approaching general elections, there has been a public declaration for Burke to “register his interest to return”, hoping that this call will get the receptive response from Burke himself, as well as party-members and patriotic persons of the nation.

The Raw Perspective of Rawle Patterson in the Grenada Informer newspaper “remains confident that the National Democratic Congress’ best choice for leadership of the party at this time is V. Nazim Burke.”

The NDC had been put on alert for elections happening at any time as of September 2020, in the circulated article “General Election In Grenada During Covid-19 State Of Emergency”.

A fundamental posture declared was, “The Covid-19 scenario would surely tempt Prime Minister Mitchell to exploit a snap election soonest, also with an understanding that this would provide a very narrow window for the unconnected opposition forces to reach a mutual policy, cohesive approach, credible loyalty and impressive entity for the election as well as for in government. In fact, Mitchell would seize the slightest chance to put his accusers and distracters to ‘shame and silence’ and to boost and empower and consolidate himself on his political policies and doings…”.

The preoccupation of the government with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the unpleasant industrial and socio-economic climate, and the widespread disgruntlement about the manner of the investment projects and public debts, may have limit Prime Minister Mitchell to call the elections already, and he would not do so in the remaining of this year 2021 unless there is some overriding factor in his favour, or of constitutional demand or under political pressure.

At stake though, the level of preparedness of NDC with regards to its party leadership and electoral capacity, would be the decisive factors for NNP to feel comfortable and advantageous to face the electorate – recall the past article, “How Pathetic Of Grenada’s Opposition NDC About The Elections Office!”

J.K. Roberts