As the country shifts gears on the political scene in preparation for the highly anticipated General Elections constitutionally due by June next year, the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Mitchell is planning to adopt a blended approach to governance, inclusive of “youth and experience,” as a crucial step to remain relevant in going forward.
“We need our young people to ensure that our future is protected, and (that we) remain relevant and current. We need experience, a blend of youth, and experience… they are so crucial,” Prime Minister Mitchell told supporters, after being re-elected political leader at the Party’s annual convention, which was held semi-virtually on Sunday.
In his address, the aging 75 year old Prime Minister announced that very soon, there will be the unveiling of several young people to hold key technical and political positions as the party moves forward and transitions into new leadership.
A transition committee, headed by former Finance Minister Anthony Boatswain to look for a successor to Prime Minister Mitchell, has reportedly not made much headway.
NNP insiders have said that the UK-based Grenadian lawyer, Akima Paul-Lambert was identified as the front-runner for the job and that she was expected to return home to contest the St Mark constituency in the upcoming general election as part of a deal to land her the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Political Leader of NNP.
The plan, according to party sources is for Prime Minister Mitchell to serve the entire 5-year term in office and then hand over to the female attorney-at-law.
The announcement by the 75 year old leader on his plans for youth involvement in the process comes amidst perceptions in the country that the NNP, which has governed the affairs of the country for more than 25 years, is struggling to maintain its once dominant foothold when it comes to young, and middle-aged people.
“We will be unveiling a number of youth at the political, and technical levels to compliment the experienced, tried, tested, and delivered gurus of the NNP,” said PM Mitchell, the longest-serving political leader of the party, which was officially formed in 1984.
He praised the NNP as the party that continues “to help and inspire the next generation of young people.”
The emergence of 44 year old attorney-at-law, Dickon Mitchell as Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has forced the ruling party to look inwards at its own transitioning into new and younger leadership.
Although “not satisfied that we are where we should be” as a nation, the Grenadian leader, who is seeking a sixth term in office told supporters, that he sees himself as a “bridge to the future,” and explained that “housing, ICT services, and Sports,” will be areas of “major focus for growth and development” in going forward.
Prime Minister Mitchell also announced that “the Ministry of Sports, and Culture is coming up with plans and actions to do much more in providing support in that particular for our young people,” and also pledged “to do more in small business development for our young people to empower them.”
Highlighting “the economic challenges that we now face, and will continue to face, the pandemic, and the emerging crisis internationally,” PM Mitchell reiterated the need to “make Grenada a hub for IT services (and) training our people to become global citizens.
Our housing stocks, we know it’s a problem, the next level will have to be much more housing for the poor, and vulnerable in our society. We have created lots of opportunities but there needs to be a lot more…so that would be one of the major plans of our government going forward,” he told party supporters.
The NNP convention comes weeks after the Dickon Mitchell-led Congress party announced a slate of seven (7) candidates, mainly young people to contest the upcoming poll, including former school principal Jonathan La Crette, who will vie for the St. George North-west constituency, which is currently held by Prime Minister Mitchell, who has never lost the seat to another contender since 1984.
La Crette, who was a guest on Sunday’s NDC Heartbeat programme holds the view that “politics in Grenada (as) is a dying artform, simply because we do not have youthful vigour in the political stream that can attract other youth.”
He said that “a shift in leadership across all sectors in Grenada is needed if we are to be a productive nation.”
The former school teacher, who has served at various capacities within the public service, and has developed “an affinity for policy development and implementation” is of the view that Grenadian youth must be engaged “on a conversational level to hear where their heart is, and where they see Grenada in the next 30, 40 years (with) ….their children’s children, (and) themselves as a Grenadian citizen in this democracy….”
Noting that “policymakers are critical to economic development,” La Crette cited the need for change, and voiced concern over what he described as the lack of political will, which is a fundamental issue that has over the years hindered effective policy construction and implementation as “we have not had a culture of politics that fosters transformation (but) we have a lot of politicised institutions.
.And, it almost seems as though (it is) a deliberate attempt to keep the electorate in this state of disillusionment…and, it cannot continue, it cannot be allowed to continue,” declared La Crette, who believes that the NDC team of candidates will be “the catalyst of change that will catapult this political system into orbit, and shift the political landscape of Grenada.”
However, Prime Minister Mitchell, who promised for the third time that the upcoming general elections will be his final before retiring from public life, told supporters on Sunday that the issue of change has been “a continuous process,” pointing out that currently, several Members of Parliament in the Upper House were chosen with youth and leadership in mind.
He recalled the appointment of government ministers Kate Lewis, Emmalin Pierre, and Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, who all entered the political scene under the age of 30, and are now “helping the younger ones into the process of leadership and development.”
He also used the opportunity to point out that “the challenges facing Grenada are serious, and the solutions will not be just the ideas of one particular age group”.
“It is not going to be done by any particular age group. It is going to be all of us together, holding hands together…,” said Prime Minister Mitchell.