The New Today


Has Dickon Mitchell soured Grenada’s 50th independence observance?

What is the main issue of contention? Grenada’s Ruling Administration of the 23 June 2022 National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by Attorney Dickon Mitchell, must have caused many disappointments and suspicions concerning its lack of ‘open and serious’ considerations for tackling the 07 February 1974 constitutional construct of the nation, at an appropriate occasion such as this fifty-year milestone of Independence, towards enhanced ‘democracy and governance and prosperity’ entering a new fifty years.

What are the unfortunate realities? Firstly, there has not been any explicit mention in NDC’s 2022 ‘transformation agenda’ elections manifesto about constitutional reforms.

Secondly, there has not been any specific inclusion in the composition and role of the National Organising Committee (NOC) for the year-long celebrations of the nation’s Golden Jubilee.

Thirdly, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, when quizzed about efforts for the conducting of a constitutional referendum, discloses no ‘consolatory’ resolution and commitment for this sovereign undertaking.

Those pointers must also be evaluated within the decisions and plans of the NDC Government to have launched the Golden Jubilee on 19 October 2023, but which had to be reluctantly changed to 31 October due to the intense ‘concerns and uproars’ from various quarters of the society.

Recall the article “Grenada’s 19 October National Heroes Day In Serious Limbo” which raises the position of Dickon that the related schedules to commence the Celebrations on 19 October 2023 and to designate this date going forward as National Heroes Day, are by “no accident” and with “no more fitting day”; as well as the two-part article ”Grenada Transforming Its Identity And Legacy At Golden Jubilee” which notes the perspectives and petitions surrounding those decisions and plans, by some expert commentators who also ultimately prompted another Launch Date.

How should patriotic Grenadians react to this pertinent contentious issue, especially those who have been advancing and advocating passionately about the ‘education, recommendations and process’ for ‘credible and deserved’ constitutional reforms, and have had reasonable expectations for said?

On 22 November 2023 in addressing the topic “Reparations, Republicanism and The Rule of Law: What Next After Fifty Years Of Independence?”, and in response to the follow up question about “a constitutional change (‘for Grenada’) where we can have a constitution of the people, by the people and for the people”, Dickon Mitchell explores two main excuses for “I won’t waste my time.”

He said: “…. it simply will not work” on a constitutional referendum at this time.

The past article “The Constitutional Factor In Transforming Grenada at Golden Jubilee” reiterates that articulations by the powers-that-be about reconciliation and justice with Reparations from the past colonisers, but without the demonstrations of ‘genuine efforts’ towards a ratified Constitution, is ‘crude hypocrisy and betrayal’ which must be detected and rejected.

The two-part article “Diversionary Tactics About Reforming Grenada’s Constitution” seeks to debunk Dickon’s intended excuses as being absurd and insensitive, with huge insults to the ‘intelligence and independence’ of the Grenadian people and in particular, with a serious blow to the ‘record and resolve’ of mature stalwarts on this ‘long-standing’ issue.

Are the excuses offered about the possibility of non-cooperation by the main opposition party, the New National Party (NNP) led by the immediate former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, and on the need for providing and studying the various global options on the type of Government for Grenada over the next fifty years ‘acceptable and sensible’ when considering all factors?

In fact, how must the people assess Dickon’s motive with State Power, when theoretically and practically he knows that in its current state the Constitution “can be exploited for political advantage”, and that according to Prime Minister of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, State Power is an Illusion – “Prime Ministerial power in these societies is largely an administrative power to do evil”.

The Grenadian people must understand that indeed a ‘hurt and disrespect’ was inherent in Dickon’s utterances, and that a ‘damper and deficiency’ may have also been caused to the national observance of the nation’s Golden Jubilee, within the excellent background facts and good deliberative reasonings which are known and are in existence on the Issue otherwise.

In fact, it is imperative that the leading voices on constitutional reforms give a verdict on the presentation and/or position of Dickon in relation to their very own knowledge, work and position, and with also the referencing of the materials and involvements pertaining to the unprecedented constitutional referenda held on 24 November 2016 and on 06 November 2018 during the NNP’s reign.

Who are some of those active players about constitutional reforms, and what are some of the significant references? Are the rationales for constitutional reforms no more ‘relevant and valid’ and that the Prime Minister’s reasons now supersede and stand as supreme?

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What about the parameters and/or objectives presented by Dr. Wendy Grenade, Grenadian Political Scientist at the University of the University, on 05 November 2016 to the Grenada Constitution Reform Special Assembly?

Grenade’s Keynote Address situates constitutional reforms within the larger process of Independence; draws attention to the significance of Self-definition and Self-governance; underscores the importance of the Constitution as an instrument to improve the quality of Democracy; and shows the relationship between constitutional reforms and the wider imperative of Caribbean Regionalism.

Considering that major aspects of the drive for ‘greater evidence’ of Caribbean Regionalism or Integration include the full ascension by all countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), then where are the proponents of the CCJ now?

It is crucial for individuals who have being claiming that the real merit for Grenada to achieve the CCJ as its final appellate jurisdiction instead of the Privy Council, is about “access to justice” for the people and about a symbol of delinking from the vestiges of the British Empire, to speak up; some of these individuals are attorneys Ruggles Fergusion KC, Dr. Francis Alexis KC, and Dr. Lawrence Joseph.

Wasn’t the CCJ issue regarded and attempted to be proven as a priority, to the extent that it was the focus for the constitutional referenda of 2016 and 2018?

As one of the seeming advisors and sympathisers of NDC, William Joseph, owes the general population ‘clear and sound’ explanations about the realisation of the “‘New Age Politics’ for building ‘The New Future’ for the Grenadian people”, with having the National Constitution as a source “for shaping and giving substance to ‘The New Future’”; as postulated publicly in January 2021 via “The Patriotic Vine … Letter to the NDC Hierarchy”.

That is – the Constitution “needs to be reassessed and re-tooled if it must serve the people better for the next fifty years. The dominant challenge is to establish the Constitution beyond being the Supreme Law so that it mandates a binding framework for development …. NDC must break new ground in making “good government” a central theme, presenting on its meaning and benefits.

Commitment to public education in the Constitution so that it becomes a living asset in every Grenadian family is vital. The language must be simplified to aid popular understanding and to minimize the need for interpretation by the courts”.

By the way then, how must Dickon’s excuses be interpreted or be excused? Should it be conceded that it is still early days for Dickon’s moves for the next fifty years?

Is it too burdensome, and would it be immaterial or be futile, for the Government to submit and implement the idea of Citizen John Rullow for the establishment of a Constituent Assembly towards having a people’s ‘homegrown’ Constitution?

How long must Rullow and the other so-concerned citizens wait before receiving ‘meaningful and decisive’ statements on the recurring ‘unsettled’ questions about the patriation for Grenada’s sovereignty, and acknowledging “documentary evidence or bibliographical references” about Grenada’s obtaining Independence?

Further, considering that the development of a National Constitution must not be confined to politicians and to attorneys but rather, this must be of the ‘wishes and determinations and actions’ of the Sovereign people, then the challenge is again placed to Dr. Wendy Crawford-Daniel’s NOC and to Dickon Mitchell’s Government to allocate portion of the $15 million for the Golden Jubilee to a Civil Society group which would help spearhead public education fora on the struggles and contentions along the pathway to Grenada’s Independence and for reviewing the processes and submissions of the past for constitutional reforms.

Once again the 2014 combined “Recommendations By Grenada Constitution Review Commissions“ of Dr. Francis Alexis, and the 2002 publication Caribbean Constitutional Reform/Rethinking the West Indian Polity” and the thesis “Re-drafting The Grenada Constitution” by the late Professor Simeon C. R. McIntosh, are sufficient ‘working materials’ for engaging the young naïve population on constitutional reforms.

However finally, considering the ‘dark circumstances’ by which the ‘comprehensive document’ of the new Partnership Agreement between the European Union and its member states, and the members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, “Samoa Agreement”, was signed by Grenada but with its possible ‘negative bearings’ on the 1974 Independence Constitution and on the traditions of the people, and considering that the Prime Minister can adopt the governance model of the (March 1979 – October 1983) People’s Revolutionary Government which had put aside the Constitution and ruled by decrees, and considering that there are many constitutional issues in ‘prevalence and emergence’ concerning different interest groups, then all ‘conscientious and conscious’ Grenadians should prepare for Dickon Mitchell to knock a constitutional referendum ‘without objectivity’ at any unexpected time.

J.K. Roberts