By Ian Francis
Polls, political pundits, commentators and opinion writers are all continuing to predict the fate of the Thomas administration over the next ten months. The ten-month time frame is only an indicator that Thomas would have completed his five years of governing.
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 email@example.com
On the other hand, a careful assessment and analysis of the current political situation might provide different indicators in light of the decaying economic situation; inability to find a dream team to contest the forthcoming polls; the likely outcomes of the Hood no-confidence motion and of course the NDC Convention.
Whichever way it is looked at, defeat and good riddance seem to be on the horizon for the future of the Thomas administration over the next few months.
It was only a few days ago, I had the opportunity to exchange notes with a veteran Grenadian observer, who drove home the point that a “Thomas administration survival must be seen as defying all probabilities of logic”. This observation is very interesting and in sync with the thinking of most voters that the NDC obituary might very well be on the way. Time will tell.
Assuming that the political indicators are correct, there is a very high probability that the opposition New National Party led by Dr Mitchell could be elected to form the government. If this occurs, the new incoming government will be faced with many governing challenges and voters’ expectations. Therefore, Mitchell and his team will be required to demonstrate efficiency and good governance.
This means that the administration will have to address five important tasks. These are: 1) revival and restructuring of the Grenada economy to restore the quality of life to Grenadians; 2) revival of the agricultural industry utilizing new technology tools, importation of foreign agricultural workers for a limited time period and ensuring that the new agricultural strategy is intricately linked to the tourism industry; 3) a restructuring of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that includes decreased staff, greater emphasis on bilateral diplomacy; restructuring of foreign diplomatic and consular missions abroad; improved training and knowledge enhancement on national development priorities and merging the Grenada industrial development corporation into foreign affairs; 4) development and implementation of an anti-corruption strategy; re-structuring of national security organs; and 5) development of a national youth corps.
While some of the above challenges will require immediate action, the incoming regime will also have to deal with debt servicing; renegotiations on foreign loans; restoring the quality of life to Grenadians; working with strategic partners to revive and rebuild the economy and a host of other interventions to ensure that things go well, and that suppliers, public servants, contractors and others are paid on time.
A new regime cannot afford to ignore the call and desire for civic participation and engagement. There seems to be a deep interest by various constituents in Grenada for engagement the decision making process. This is why the new administration will have to examine carefully the introduction of local government. There will be concerns by administration representatives about the cost and implementation of local government.
However, the possibilities of technical assistance and planning can be accessed from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the American Mayoralty and Municipalities and British Local Government organizations will be prepared to assist Grenada if a request for assistance is made. In my view, these initiatives will only bear fruit if the administration has a good national development plan, diplomatic and consular missions are fully in tuned with government priorities and have the tools to work and achieve results.
Another valuable and realistic approach by the new regime is to utilize technical assistance from international agencies like UNESCO, UNDP, OAS and others. By accessing these resources, the administration will have to understand that technical experts will not all be Grenadians .Therefore, the need for competence and cultural adaptability will be of prime importance. A new incoming regime should not only rely on local and entrenched public servants to ensure the national development agenda moves forward.
The functions and operations of the Prime Minister’s Office must be at the forefront of national development issues. Competent, mature and reliable staffing must be a priority. The prime minister will need to have a strong cabinet secretary and tough chief of staff. In essence, there must be no signs of bureaucratic lethargy and incompetence as the suffering nation will continue to scream.
This article is not meant or should be seen as negative or as a lecture sermon. Every Grenadian at home and in the Diaspora is deeply committed to seeing good governance, transparency and innovation and sustainable success. However, the leadership of the new administration must be prepared to be firm, focused and ruthless. The administration must be prepared for mass criticism, which should not be ignored. It will have a responsibility to respond in a timely manner and at the same time to increase awareness and understanding about the challenges of governing.
Finally, the new administration must understand that those in the political wilderness will look for refuge and offer various approaches about national unity. However, the administration must resist gullibility and those seeking refuge will have to pay their dues. It is anticipated that many are awaiting, however, sensitivity to old party cadres and acceptance of political sweet talk must be avoided.
Good luck in your endeavour to govern the tri-state of Grenada.