Wrongdoings on the part of an authority or party through means that are illegitimate, immoral or incompatible with ethical standards can be referred to as corruption. Corruption often results from patronage and can occur on many different scales and in many different sectors, whether public, private or even non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Corruption is more prevalent in some countries than others, with some political leaders more susceptible to corruption than others. Transparency International founded in 1993 is a global civic organisation leading the fight against corruption. Using a mechanism -- the Corruption Perception Index -- this organisation ranks countries based on their level of transparency. Barbados tops the rankings as the less corrupt country in the Caribbean and therefore based on this ranking it may be fair to say that political leaders and their parties are transparent and accountable. However, although Barbados has a very high ratings, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur had allegations of corruption levelled against him by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) prior to the 2008 general elections.
Throughout the entire English speaking Caribbean, corruption is a problem. CARICOM as a unit has failed to effectively tackle the issue of corruption in member states and it is left to the citizens and anti-corruption agencies to monitor the activities of government. Haiti and Jamaica are two Caribbean countries that have serious problems of corruption. Both the JLP and the PNP in Jamaica condoned corruption at various levels. Petty, grand and systemic corruption continue to ravage these countries Apart from these two regional political organisations, many other parties have been alleged to be engaged in acts of corruption. The Antigua Labour Party under the Birds and in more recent times the New National Party of Dr Mitchell in Grenada has been gripped by allegations of corruption.
The leadership of the NNP and its supporters seem to have a passion for corruption and political victimisation. From 1995-2008 the party engaged in basically all forms of corruption unabated. The party's leadership for years knowingly associated themselves with many international crooks and con men such as Eric Reistener and Kozenky the Pirate of Prague. NNP is also associated with allegations of massive bank fraud including off hore bankers and Cap Bank, where depositors were robbed of millions of dollars. PM Mitchell has pledged in his election campaign that if elected into office he will reimburse the small depositors of Cap Bank. To date he has failed to fulfill his promise to the small depositors and in the meantime Mr De Bourge’s court case is stalled. But does Dr Mitchell have the constitutional right to use taxpayers’ monies to pay for the indiscretions of the CEO of Cap Bank -- a private entity? The matter should be settled in the courts. Cap Bank was permitted to operate by the NNP administration of Dr Mitchell outside of the OECS banking system, even when the bank was denied a license by the ECCB. The passion for corruption takes precedence of legal authority with no one being held responsible for such atrocities.
History was made by the NNP on February 19th when for a second time the party won all seats in the house of parliament. 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely.' History was also made when, for the very first time in the Caribbean, a prime minister and his deputy both fought court cases after allegations of corruption were leveled against them . A commission of enquiry was set up against the prime minister to investigate allegations that he received US$500,000 in a Louis Vuitton briefcase from an international crook Reistener . Having lost an election as a result of these allegations of corruption, both men were re-elected to the house of parliament. Jack Warner in Trinidad also accomplished the same feat
Many conclusions can be drawn from the fact that the NNP has benefited from the many allegations of corruption that the party seemingly engaged in since 1995.
a. Systematic corruption has deep roots within the fabric of the Grenadian society. NDC experiment of transparency, accountability and good governance failed because the vast majority of the electorate are tolerant to corrupt practises. This is manifested in the comments made by many electorates and even the MP for St David’s that they are not concerned where the monies come from once they can get what they want .
b. Money, whether obtained by corrupt practises or not, in today's society has a very powerful influence on the outcome of an election. Many electorates are not concerned about who is corrupt or not once they can get small token $5, $10 or $15. The politics of 'rum and corn beef' . Which political party in Grenada knows that politics better than the NNP?
c. Many politicians lack integrity and credibility. They are more concerned with self aggrandisement , self preservation, lust for power and wealth over principle, morality and decency. They don't mind being accused of guilt by association and collective responsibility once they can continue to 'top up' their foreign bank accounts.
d. The more sinister and corrupt a political party is, the more likely it is to win a general election. NNP lost the 2008 general elections because of the massive alliance of opposition forces who were fed up with the excesses of Dr Mitchell and his team. They were able to rally the people behind their cause which was that Dr Mitchell and the NNP is too corrupt and needed to be remove from power. The alliance was successful in doing so. Four and a half years later the alliance lost their way and the NNP is back into office. Ironically some of the same members of the alliance that fought against Dr Mitchell joined with him 2013 to fight their own principle of transparency, accountability and good governance. This shows how deep the roots of corruption have sunk within the fabric of the Grenadian society. It's a case of Jesus (those false prophets pretending to be children of Christ) , joining with the devil to fight against God.
e. In the Grenadian political arena this is no positive political change. There isn't a permanent paradigm shift from one level of political maturity to another. The 'eat ah food ' mentality is embedded within the consciousness of the people and it only takes some nice sounded phrase such as 'we will deliver' and ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ to capture the bellies of the voter. Some electorates seem not to care if they are delivered to the devil or get a job in hell.
Throughout the political life of the NNP the party has been marred by allegations of corruption. From bribery/blackmail to cronyism, nepotism to improper political contribution, the abuse of discretion, favouritism, embezzlement theft and fraud. The absence of a powerful anti-corruption agency, activist investigative journalism and a weak media has resulted in the party having a free ride on the bandwagon of corruption. International crooks and con men who received ambassadorial posting and diplomatic Grenadian passports from the NNP are in US jails, yet no one within the NNP has ever faced prosecution.
In addition the failure of the NDC to seriously pursue legal actions against the leadership of the NNP after accusing them of corruption has indeed empowered the corrupted minds and their supporters within the party. The massive and early voting of the supporters of the NNP in the February 19th elections and the subsequent victory was also a 'victory' for corruption and political victimisation. The NNP doesn't have a history of transparency and accountability and with total control of the houses of parliament don't expect any change in the attitude of the NNP. The party also has the support of the majority of the people, who seem to have a high level of tolerance for corruption. It's a very sad situation and the future of the country will be very bleak as a result. There are still many honest citizens in the country and I do hope that they will one day find the courage to stand up and fight for what is right. Our society is small and it is therefore very easy for corruption to become pandemic. Already everyone is trying to see how they can cheat their neighbour and it all originates from the political culture.
Dr Mitchell in his victory speech at Tanteen on the night of the elections said and I quote "what have I done to deserve this". Dr Mitchell has done a whole lot. By the use of positive and negative inducements he has deliberately and systematically used his charisma to manipulate the Grenadian society ensuring that the people have a tolerance for corrupt practises through the 'eat ah food ' syndrome. Dr Mitchell has widened the gap between the rich and the poor by his economic policies from 1995-2008 therefore ensuring that there will always be an audience to listen to his 'fairy tale'. To maintain an estate you must be able to hold on and attract labour. By engaging sometimes in corrupt practises Dr Mitchell is ensuring that the NNP base remains loyal to him.
The philosophy of the NNP is such that the party attracts very easily questionable characters. Birds of a feather, flock together. The minister of youth and sports Hon Emmalin Pierre is alleged to have stolen the funds from the students’ savings of a school credit union . The wife of the foreign minister is reported to be the government's agent for the Citizens by Investment Program. This is a clear conflict of interest since the minister of foreign affairs will have a pivotal role to play in the operation of the program. Even before the bill was passed in Parliament a rubber stamp the citizens program was been promoted by an investor Peter Da Savery . This I believe is unprecedented and a clear violations of parliamentary procedures. This smells like corruption.
Hon Denzel Douglas Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis was allegedly involved in a similar scenario in which family members were active participants in the island’s citizens by investment program. The opposition cried foul . St Kitts and Nevis has one of the oldest citizens by investment program in the world. Dating back to as far as 1983.
The name NNP is synonymous with political corruption. The party has a serious political machinery, not because the operatives and activist are genuinely dedicated to nation building . The operatives within the NNP sole motivation is the lust for power and personal wealth. I have seen some operatives and activist within the NNP become millionaires overnight. This time around monies are not freely available as was the case from 1995-2008 and so many of the activist now have to settle for employment in the public service at the expense of thousands of dismissed young workers. Still the passion for corruption and victimisation within exist even after the prime minister gave the nation and the world the assurances that there will be no political victimisation . Can anyone really trust the prime minister?
Whenever one hears the name NNP their first instinct has to do with some wrongdoings. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily rampant corruption was practised in the housing program Eights years after the hurricane supporters of the NNP still have building materials stock away in their homes. God forbid the island isn't affected by any devastating natural disaster any time soon.
Campaigning for the next general elections has begun and the party is now issuing $100 school vouchers to its supporters. The close to 2,000 public workers who have been victimised and are now on the breadline has absolutely no means to support themselves and family . Their salaries are probably being used to provide $100 vouchers for the NNPites. The passion for corruption is in the DNA of the NNP. In any discussion with a NNP supporter you will be privilege to hear the phrase 'me party in power now, ah go eat ah food '. Well there is not much food left in the basket and so one has to fear the possibility that in order to feed the supporters and maintain the party base that there isn't an increase in corruption and victimisation of workers.
Grenada can't develop holistically that way. The situation in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood won 51% of vote in the last election and instead of uniting the people chose to govern for only their supporters is similar to what is happening in Grenada. The people took to the streets, and Mohammad Morsi the duly elected leader of Egypt was deposed by the military. Egypt is now in political, economic and social turmoil with no end in sight to the country's political polarisation. Dr Mitchell, the NNP and all regional governments should learn from the lessons of Egypt. Don't take the people for fools or for granted. The lid on the pressure cooker that keeps the pressure inside the pot may soon crack with serious consequences for him and his party the NNP. The last time I checked my encyclopedia the island where I was born and now living is called Grenada and not NNP as the prime minister would like for me to believe. Peter David talked about tribalism only a few months ago but all of a sudden he seems to have lost his tongue since he is in bed with the tribal chief. He too has his own passion for corruption, casino gambling.
If ever Grenada is to emerge as a leading democratic and united country in the Caribbean I would suggest that Dr Mitchell serve two years as prime minister after which he relinquishes power to a less polarising figure within the NNP. Dr Mitchell is too much of a polarising individual for him to unite the country and promote economic growth and development. The NDC will continue to have a base of over 20,000 people. Dr Mitchell intends to marginalise these section of the population who still has a contribution to make to nation building. NDC believes in transparency and accountability and have zero tolerance to corruption. Dr Mitchell recently indicated that the NDC should go and hide. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe also thinks the same when he said the the MDC of Morgan Tsvangirai they should go 'hang themselves '. These two black leaders have very little regard for democracy m the rule of law and political opposition at the detriment of the development of their respective countries. Both the NNP and the ZANU-PF strives of intimidation, corrupt practises and the vulnerability of the poor and vulnerable.
The current world economic dispensation suggest that for small developing countries to compete in this vicious global environment political unity, inclusiveness , transparency and accountability must be at the fore. Dr Mitchell and his political party must take heed. Failure to do so will lead to his demise as leader of the country. Enough is enough.
The Grenadian people won't remain passive and docile while the prime minister and his party look after the interest of themselves only. The people of Egypt is leading the way and the Grenadian people will follow if there is no positive change. Corruption and victimisation won't be allowed to destroy the country once more. Too much work and effort went into making Grenada a better and just country.