By Ian Francis
Grenada's political saga and uncertainty continues. Hidden amongst the uncertainties is a growing political comedy that combines phony announcements of development projects; party members' expulsion; a silent and evasive prime minister surrounded by a selected inner clique that demonstrates daily insensitivity to bawling and disappointed Grenadians. In addition, Thomas's finance minister remains elusive and seems to be more concerned with monitoring his real estate investments than solving the deteriorated state of the economy.
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
Voters are wondering about the hidden $600 million project agreements that were announced in the budget to avoid access by a possible incoming administration of the New National Party (NNP). Comrade Burke, the deteriorating economic situation in Grenada requires citizens to participate in this hidden loot.
Amidst the saga, uncertainties and tomfoolery, over the last three weeks, there were three recent interesting events that occupied the mind of Grenadians. The National Democratic Congress convention was convened and delegates took action that resulted in the expulsion of various party members. Unfortunately, these expulsions have not mended the ongoing internal party revolt. Most observers agree that the expulsions have widened the rift that is now known and accepted as irreparable. Therefore, the saga continues with expulsions, prorogation and a minority parliament.
As the saga continues, the opposition NNP has recognized the growing political vacuum and disenchantment of Grenadians. As a result, they continue with mobilizing their voters by holding various rallies and groundings in constituencies across the nation. A most recent rally took place in the constituency of the Town of St George where various observers estimated the attendance between eight to ten thousand.
Interestingly, this constituency is currently held by former NDC member Peter David. With his expulsion from the NDC, it is unlikely that he will carry the NDC banner in the forthcoming election. Given the current situation in this constituency, observers have concluded that the new NDC candidate is not likely to muster sufficient votes to retain this seat for the NDC. The observation extends further to David's political future in the constituency. Political pundits have indicated that David cannot mount a successful independent or new party representative campaign.
Given these assumptions, one can only conclude that David's political future in Grenada is not encouraging and might very well be over. While speculations continue about a possible by the NNP house, these speculations are unlikely for two reasons. The NNP's top priority is getting their candidate Nicholas Steele elected.
In 2003, both David and Burke were rejected by Mitchell for membership in the NNP. Given the participation of these two individuals in the current NDC melee, most NNP members and supporters are openly saying that the five NDC splinters are not wanted. However, at times it is often said that politics make strange bedfellows. Taking everything into consideration surrounding the political uncertainty of David, it is not difficult to conclude that the NNP has the advantage in this constituency.
The third occurrence relates to the resumption of the Feeder Roads Project. While the existing junta continues to give voters the impression that it is a new initiative, this is certainly not the case. The Feeder roads initiative was started during the NNP administration. Unfortunately and for no apparent reason, the initiative was halted by the junta in 2008. Therefore, the recent announcement that the initiative will restart is an election ploy geared to giving voters the impression that the minority junta is on the ball.
The NNP concept about feeder roads was not only centred on employment. Most observers would agree that the vision was extremely broad. The party's commitment to rural development and empowerment were quite evident and this is why today in Grenada, many rural communities are linked with adequate roads, communication and electrification resources. Since the junta's arbitrary and vindictive decision to halt the feeder roads project, Grenadian rural residents have witnessed a decline in their growth and development brought on by the Thomas junta.
While rural Grenadians remain enthusiastic about the restarting of the feeder roads project, their increasing anger and disappointment with the junta continues. The public servants and pensioners remain on edge hoping that their salaries will be on time at the end of October. The laid off workers from La Souce Hotel are thinking about their employment future. The comfort statement by Tourism Minister Vincent means very little given the state of the local economy. Given Burke's and Vincent's obsession about a five star hotel, it might be opportune for the junta to consider acquisition of this hotel and ask foreign interests to manage its affairs. If this is done, workers jobs will be saved and the status of the hotel can be built to the five-star level.
Many Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora are continuing to ask several questions about the junta's weekly development announcements. One such announcement viewed with deep skepticism is the new hospital project. After years of deterioration of the previous colony hospital, the former NNP government led by Mitchell worked with the Republics of Venezuela and Cuba to build a new facility. While it known and accepted that there is no comparison between the old and new facility, there seem to be a disturbing side of this initiative. Evidence now indicates that the complete administrative and management structure of the institution is nonexistent; lack of drugs and patient care is deteriorating daily.
Given this decaying situation, citizens are asking the junta many critical questions. Why a new hospital when current indicators show that the Ministry of Health is not capable of managing the current institution? Where will the money be derived from given the enormous financial challenges facing the junta? Is it another All Fools joke geared at garnering votes for the elections? Why in the dying days of the JUNTA such an important development initiative is announced? What benefits would a private/public partnership in health bring to the Grenadian economy?
To conclude, the next few months in Grenada national affairs will be interesting. The next minister to jump ship will be the agriculture minister. The economy will continue to decline and the junta will continue to hang on to power through the process of prorogation.
In the meantime, the NNP remains in a spate of election readiness while the five expelled splinters continue their search for political refuge. This is the current state of national affairs in Grenada.
May the good lord bless Grenada.