“What we know for sure is that the government is working but the party is not – and this is the biggest challenge.”
This statement was made to THE NEW TODAY by Dr. Justice Pierre who is a Researcher with the Canadian-based outfit Dunn, Pierre, Barnett and Company about the lackluster performance of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) in St George’s since winning the June 2022 general election.
Dr. Pierre said that some of the people are working in the NDC constituency branch in St David’s which is controlled by the Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell but the same cannot be said of several of the other constituencies around the island.
“The people are asking for representation – in Grenada we want to see, touch the hand, feel our leaders but in NDC the party’s leadership do not meet their constituents as much as how the NNP (opposition New National Party) does that,” he remarked.
He suggested that Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell holds the key for Congress as people want to see the party’s leader very close-up at work and that consideration should be given to the holding of a Town Hall meeting every month in a different parish with the Grenadian leader.
He recalled that late Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop “was popular for a reason – he went to the people, Keith Mitchell was popular in his constituency for a reason – he went to the people.”
According to Dr. Pierre, every Grenadian knew that on a Saturday morning they could visit Dr. Mitchell at his constituency office in Happy Hill in the middle of his St George North-west constituency.
“That is no joke – he (Mitchell) is in his constituency meeting the people but the NDC has not done that,” he said.
Dr. Pierre noted that Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell is working hard on the job but he is not accessible to the people.
“The Prime Minister needs to go out. What you want is votes – (if) you have to win the elections …. the Prime Minister needs to go out some more and he is not doing that,” he said.
The Researcher referred to the NDC boss as “charismatic” but the complaint made by several persons is they need to see and feel him in a certain manner as there is a lot of psychology in people getting to touch and feel the presence of their Prime Minister and want family members to know that they had an engagement with him.
Dr. Pierre believes that PM Dickon Mitchell is running the country as though he is the President of a developed country and a little bit too distant from the people.
“Dickon Mitchell has to be with the people. He is too difficult to reach and that is not our tradition in Grenada’s politics. Dickon is not accessible and you cannot run Grenada from afar – you have to be with the people.”
According to the Researcher, this characteristic which is lacking in the current Grenadian leader was not the case with former leaders like Eric Gairy, Maurice Bishop and Keith Mitchell.
Dr. Pierre disclosed that the NDC should understand that based on the results of the last general election, some constituencies can be considered as marginal such as St John, St Patrick East and St Patrick West and that Congress will have to do some work in these areas.
Dr. Pierre, indicated that the problem for the Congress is what he called the functioning of “the mechanism” of the party.
“It is not working,” he said, adding that the party’s ability to go out there on the ground and motivate its supporters is badly lacking.
“It is not there – they have gone to sleep. The Prime Minister alone cannot run the country,” he remarked.
Asked how he believes the NDC can fix the problem, Dr. Pierre said: “The Prime Minister is a very charismatic person. We have identified about nine characteristics that the people of Grenada want in a leader. One of the characteristics is that he must be an educated person, the second characteristic is that he must be a very eloquent speaker and Mr. Dickon Mitchell has that characteristic.
“People like to hear him when he goes to speak, especially how he speaks against Dr. Mitchell in Parliament. He is a better speaker – he also appears to be more honest (than Keith Mitchell), more trustworthy than Dr. Mitchell so people like that but …. the Prime Minister is not reaching the people,” he added.
Dr. Pierre went on to say: “There is a gap – he has to come down to the people, he has to go to the constituency and meet the people, go in the parishes, go in the 15 constituencies.”
The Researcher feared that if the NNP is able to resolve its leadership issue between Dr. Mitchell and his Assistant General Secretary Peter David, the party will be a formidable opponent for NDC in the next general election.
“This whole issue in the leadership in the NNP has to be resolved. If the leadership is not resolved in the NNP, the NDC will be stronger and stronger but as soon as the leadership is resolved and Dr. Mitchell is no longer the leader and a new leader comes in then things will be different,” he said.
Asked who he sees emerging as the new leader of NNP, Dr. Pierre said: “The new leader still right now is Peter David. If Dr. Mitchell goes for leadership again in the (general) election, he will still lose.”
According to Dr. Pierre as a Research Scientist, before the June 2022 poll, he reached out to the NNP with data and informed them that the party was in serious trouble because people no longer were supportive of their leader.
He urged the party to change its leadership as Dr. Mitchell had fallen out of grace with many Grenadians due to his failure to pay the pension of public officers as ruled by the High Court.
“Our advice (was) that Dr. Mitchell should let Peter David lead NNP into the last election because while he might not be the ideal candidate he has a lot of clout in the party.”
Dr. Pierre is confident that NNP supporters will back Peter David as their new party boss as “there is no other one to support” and that for the longevity of the NNP, Dr. Mitchell has to be removed as the Political Leader of the party.
He does not believe that if the NNP goes to the annual convention that a candidate backed by Dr. Mitchell will be able to defeat David in the election.
“Dr. Keith Mitchell is losing popularity in the party especially from the women,” he quipped.
He cited the Delma Thomas episode in which the NNP boss showed total disrespect for the female MP from St. Andrew North-west since the party lost the poll.