By Ian Francis
It was indeed a beautiful Monday morning in Toronto following a few days of inclement weather, which brought snow, rain and cold winds. At the same time, my attention was not deflected from the weather as I took the opportunity to ensure social media was in place and the loud cheering of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New National Party (NNP) would not deter my political interest as the nation prepares for general elections on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.
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
As I read Lloyd Noel's pre-election article, I immediately reminded myself that, given the pace of development in the nation of Grenada, it is incumbent upon social commentators to carry out their respective task until February 18, 2013.
As readers are aware, in recent months, I have on this medium commented extensively on the state of affairs in Grenada. While I have attempted at all times to be objective and realistic in my writings to avoid the usual accusations of partisanship, my previous articles and that of others in this and other media have persistently painted an environment of stalled growth, political buffoonery and a jittery nation of residents wondering what next, as the Thomas pilgrimage barricaded themselves in the confines of the Botanical Gardens and failed to address the needs of the frantic population.
Within the last three weeks, there have been clear indicators that the barricades were lifted, which saw an unprecedented bolting of Hopkin, Moses, Joseph, Simon, Roberts and others to tell Grenadian voters the wonderful and progressive accomplishments of the Thomas administration from 2008-2013.
Now that the political gates are open, Grenadian voters are experiencing an array of political meetings and rallies by both major contesting parties, which give the electorate a choice. It is anticipated that as the election period runs down to D-Day, it is customary for both parties to call in their regional artistes to blast the sounds with the hope of final vote mobilization. Such initiatives have been around for a very long time. However, both major political parties in Grenada must concur that voters have made up their minds and the popular indicators are that the Thomas NDC has outlived its time.
Assuming that the trends and pattern of voters’ behaviour are in sync with the writer's observation, it is very clear and sundry that game change will be arriving and there must be an acceptance to capture it.
As the call and hope for a new governing order approaches in Grenada, the advocates calling for such change must recognize and understand that it will be a long and arduous task. If the New National Party (NNP) of Dr Keith Mitchell assumes the reins of power, voters and supporters must understand and recognize that the challenges of the NNP administration will be very daunting and require the participation and engagement of the population in rescuing the nation. While Dr Mitchell and his parliamentary team are totally capable of managing change and addressing what has been left by the Thomas administration, the population must understand that it takes time and cooperative planning to resolve the ills of the Thomas regime.
Change will not immediately come overnight and this is why the incoming regime must be open and transparent with the population so they understand clearly what is happening. This should remind the government of having full and unfettered access to a reliable and focussed media communication vehicle and competent personnel to manage a good communications program.
Elected officials and policy managers must at all times be sensitive to the needs of communities and individuals across the nation. Government departments like Customs, the magistracy, labour department, police and Inland Revenue must be at the helm supporting the vanguard of change. At the same time, the government has an obligation to ensure that immediate and urgent legislative changes are brought about, so Grenadians and others can be protected from exploitation and disrespect as we now witness in the medical and legal field. Consumers expect to be defended and treated fairly in the society by government enacting the necessary legislation to protect consumers. Employers must respect employees by allocating them the benefits and wages as called for under existing legislation.
Finally, the cancer of corruption and other unethical conduct in the public, private and voluntary sector must be addressed. This begs the call for early legislation requiring elected and appointed officials, senior civil servants and others to make an annual declaration of their assets and liabilities. The introduction and enforcement of such legislation is very necessary given the series of allegations that pervades the campaign trail.
Like many other Grenadians, I am looking forward to change after February 19, 2013. At the same time those of us who are committed to change must ensure they occur, are relevant and meet the needs of all sectors in Grenadian society.