By Ian Francis
It is one month since the ruling New National Party (NNP) received a strong electoral mandate from the voters of Grenada, which resulted in the other contesting parties being completely shut out of the electoral process in Grenada. With such a massive electoral mandate, a broken economy, high youth unemployment and increasing crime and lawlessness, the new administration will be required to address many institutional changes that are relevant to the practices of good governance and responsive change as required by the voters of Grenada.
Since assuming the prime ministerial responsibility of Grenada in February 2013, many voluntarily exiled Grenadians in Canada and the United States have seen fit to express varying positions on several electronic media that claim to address Grenada’s social, political and economic affairs. Unfortunately, as many of these exiles take advantage of the free medium to post their diatribes and slanderous comments about the leadership of the three weeks old administration, there are many who have resisted the social media vulgarity on Grenada and have indeed opted to exercise greater responsibility thus allowing a more balanced and objective debate on public policy issues in Grenada.
As the Mitchell administration puts its stamp on the governing process in Grenada, it is quite evident that ministers of government with responsibilities for various statutory bodies will have to be engaged in making various institutional changes. In my view, these required changes should not be assessed or described by the exiles as state victimization. It is interesting to note that such action is a normal function of any government.
Unfortunately, unlike Britain, Canada or the United States, where voluntary resignations are usually submitted after regime change is obvious, the government of Grenada and many other Caribbean governments are often faced with the opposite. Those who hold appointments at pleasure tend to reinforce their grip and unwanted presence, thus forcing the ministers to make the changes that they were given the electoral mandate to implement.
On March 3, 2013, in an unprecedented moment at the National Stadium, Queens Park, St Georges, amongst a cross section of Grenadians than encumbered inclusiveness, Prime Minister Mitchell took the opportunity to swear in an excellent group of ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries that will lead and uphold the governing process for the next five years. As it is very well known, the prime minister retained responsibilities for finance, energy, national security, home affairs, information and implementation. He is assisted by two capable political players in the name of Senators Kenny Lalsing and Winston Garraway.
With fairness to Dr Mitchell, as minister responsible for finance and national security, he has the legitimate right to meet with departmental heads under his control to discuss operational and administrative concerns. Therefore, the recent hurrah and ill-conceived comments about Prime Minister Mitchell’s meeting with Police Commissioner William Thompson and Director of the Financial Services Unit Sevnor Joseph do not show any impropriety or misconduct on the part of Dr Mitchell summoning these two officials for a meeting.
In discussing the above matter with many local commentators with first hand information, evidence indicates that during Prime Minister Mitchell tenure as opposition leader, he had expressed concerns to Commissioner Thompson about the escalating crime situation and the apparent inability of his organization to curve the escalation. Mitchell apparently had other concerns regarding the functions of the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU). Reliable information from several sources seems to indicate that the FIU has an arrogant, threatening and high handed approach in its work. Given the two concerns, it will be extremely difficult for any reasonable observer not to side with Mitchell on these two issues.
There are many other daunting issues especially in the area of foreign affairs that Minister Steele will soon have to handle. Many of Grenada’s diplomatic and consular personnel seem to adopt an attitude of entitlement. Many who are on contract arrangements given by the previous Thomas administration have not shown decent courtesy to the Mitchell administration by tendering their resignations. With such irresponsibility, the Mitchell administration will be forced into taking action that is consistent with the desire and call for institutional change in Grenada. Once administration officials take action, the exiles will rant and rave without carefully understanding the situation.
So to the negative and uninformed social media imposters that unfairly hammer the Mitchell administration, may be it time for them to tell those who harbour entitlement thoughts that it is time to show courtesy and respect to the NNP administration by saying “thank you”.