By Ian Francis
The recent formation and launching of Grenada's thirteenth registered political party known as the National United Front (NUF) provide some deeper insight into the growing political calamity and future of the Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC), as evidence indicates that the founders of this new political party are expelled and disgruntled former NDC enthusiasts. While the full slate is yet to be presented to Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora, there are many known names that have been identified with this new organization.
Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Glynis Roberts is a former Minister of the Environment and an expelled NDC member. She is currently the representative of South St Georges and has indicated her intention to seek re-election under the banner of NUF and as its political leader.
Ferron Lowe is a well known local attorney with deep roots in the Saint Georges' South. He was a former NDC official and adviser to Agricultural Minister Lett. Following the expiry of his contractual relations, he returned to the Ciboney Law Chambers and has been out of front line politics for quite some time. Interestingly enough, Grenada's current finance minister, Naz Burke, and former tourism minister, Peter David, are founding members of Ciboney. David, who represents the Town of St Georges, was recently expelled from the NDC and rumours have it that he might be joining this new outfit in the near future.
There is another well known political activist known as Siddqui Sylvester, who was recently expelled by the NDC and has since launched a court challenge questioning his expulsion. It is not known if Sylvester will seek parliamentary office given his known political base is in the constituency of Dr Keith Mitchell, which might be very difficult to crack.
Enthusiasm and curiosity continue to occupy the minds of many in the global community about the new political outfit. Known curiosity is centred on the position and intent of known political drifters like David, Hood, Gill, Bain, Sandiford, Humphrey, Ferguson, Gilbert, Quarless and many others. It is the view and understanding of the curious onlookers that time is running out and they are critical players in ensuring that NUF has the ability and capacity to present a full slate of candidates to Grenadian voters.
Mitchell's New National Party (NNP) has presented its slate some 18 months ago. With all the confusion and mutinous activities taking place within the NDC, Thomas and his inner circle have embarked upon replacing many of the expelled candidates, as they look forward to presenting a new and formidable team for re-election.
A careful analysis of the current Grenada political situation shows very little appetite for a new political party and NUF should be fully aware of this reality. What is also interesting to curious voters that most of the NUF cadres were at one time domineering and vocal members of the NDC who have abandoned ship to create their own. The expectations are that voters are not likely to warm up to NUF and many of them who might seek electoral office are likely to forfeit their deposits.
While the new brand NDC candidates are likely to do much better than the NUF cadres, the possibility of their re-election to political office seems very slim, given voters disaffection with the Thomas government. Many Grenadian have found the regime to be very disrespectful for proroguing Parliament and telling Grenadians that it is none of their business. The economic decline has resulted in growing youth unemployment; increased criminal activities; a decline in tourism and private sector industries; disruption of projects started by the NNP; and late payment of public servant and pensioners salaries.
In essence, Grenada is in a very chaotic situation, as the Thomas regime and what is left of it has made the firm and stubborn decision to hang on to power at all costs. The NDC’s failure to recognize that this and other opportunistic conduct are only strengthening voters to make their wrath much stronger.
The emergence of NUF is definitely occupying the minds of many. On the other hand, voters are clearly saying that the NDC has to go and it is time to take another look at the NNP. Assuming the NNP returns to power, as a new government it will be faced with many economic challenges and there is an obligation and responsibility on its part to inherit every national debt and economic experiment that Thomas and Burke have left in the Botanical Gardens on the Grenadian people.
To many at home and in the Diaspora, there is a positive feeling that an incoming NNP administration will be capable of addressing the many challenges. The new regime must first recognize that the nation is in an economic flux. Grenadian people must be told the truth and efforts have to be made to engage them in the process of national development.
A strong and decisive Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Global Cooperation will be a necessity. Accessing new bilateral resources that will be invested in the rebuilding of the economy should be prime priorities for the new regime. The Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance and Foreign Affairs must ensure strong inter-ministry policy coordination and information sharing. The appointment of a strong and competent Cabinet Secretary and permanent secretaries in finance and foreign affairs must signal the era of a new beginning within the public service.
But after all is said and done, NUF cadres, mutinous NDC sailors and other political misfits are entitled to pursue their civic participatory role in Grenada. In my opinion, Grenadian voters are watching and the above three groupings cannot fool them. The NUF’s founding convention will be of great interest, as we watch the movers and shakers end the "peek-ah-boo" and take up their governing position within the thirteenth registered political party in Grenada.
The political comedy continues as the social, economic and cultural environment slides down to the river basin. It is doubtful that NUF can contain the slide and restore trust and confidence with Grenadian voters.