by JK Roberts (Sound Public Policies Advocate)
There is no need to, nor is it the intention to parallel or compare the manifestos of Grenada’s leading political parties for the 23 June 2022 general elections.
Apart from the expected common areas and some particular initiatives, the manner by which the manifestos are announced and made available does not convey much ‘respect, honesty and goodwill’ for the people; review the past internet-circulated article “Are Manifestos Meaningful And Beneficial To The Average Grenadian?” Moreover; it may be unprecedented and justifiable in light of the dynamics in the changing political culture, but the revealing and highlighting of those manifestos after the elections have virtually begun, with the Police scheduled to vote on 20 June, should speak volumes for all voters. The ruling New National Party (NNP) had its launch on the morning of 21 June, and the Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the evening of the day before.
It is, however ‘essential and critical’ to view the contents of NDC’s 2022 manifesto in relation to at least the party’s 2018 manifesto and its principled stance on key governance policies. Indeed there should be this anxiety and anticipation for analysing the current manifesto, especially with the party’s installing of a novice political leader in October 2021 and its theme for the campaign focused on “Transforming Grenada! Let’s Move Grenada Forward”. A cursory glance of the about 53 pages 2022 governance document of 12 major headings as presented on the party’s website, and with a meaningful reflection of the 2018 elections documents, there seems to be a measure of ‘deficiencies, deviations and drawbacks’ on NDC’s 2022 manifesto.
Whilst acknowledging that it would be outrageously irrelevant to exaggerate and to load a manifesto for a first ‘5-year’ term in office after 2 massive electoral defeats and not knowing the predicaments to be faced in governance, especially following complaints of ‘uncontrolled and unchecked’ malfeasances by an outgoing Executive, it is yet reasonable to question the lack of certain prerequisites for realising the party’s Theme and Vision and for consolidating a paradigm shift towards the fortune of the nation. To what extent and to which end is the NDC ready and hopeful “to lead a path of transformation that will change Grenada positively for the benefit of all”, without explicit mention in its 2022 manifesto of the fundamental issues on the Constitution?
Why is the NDC’s failure to include constitutional reforms and electoral reforms as prominent transformational features in the 2022 manifesto? Is the party responding to strong empirical information from the Grenadian people that those issues are not consequential, imperative and desirable? Has the party strongly concluded that abuse and excessive in governance can be curbed, that accountability and prosecution can be enforced and that the entrenched impediments to “Equity, Sustainability and Prosperity” can be reversed merely by its ‘administrative and legislative’ agenda? Is the party demonstrating ‘reconciliation and redemption’ from the irresponsible and unfair ridicules it has been receiving for the No Vote results of the bogus constitutional referenda by the NNP in November 2016 and November 2018? Moreover; a manifesto should also be seen as a reference platform by which an opposing party must challenge a governing party and thus, is NDC’s failure to elaborate explicitly on those reforms signalling that it would accept whatever approach to be taken by NNP if returned to State Power despite Prime Minister Keith Mitchell declaring that he will not venture referendum again?
Has NDC’s leader Dickon Mitchell, ‘high-status successful corporate lawyer,’ been influenced to abandon his earlier conviction about the 1974 Independence Constitution, as pronounced on the 18 January 2022 current affairs “To The Point” of the Grenada Broadcasting Network; or, was he then ‘politicking/politics-tricking’? His sentiment on the existing constitutional arrangement was that it is outdated and frankly counterproductive to democracy and doesn’t lead to good governance because essentially what this means is the exploiting of the system for political advantage. Also review the past articles “Why Vote In Grenada’s Elections: Know Behind The Scenes (Part One)” and “Referendum On Constitution During Grenada’s General Elections”; pointing to the contempt for the people and for their democracy by both the NDC and NNP in not zealously championing the ‘cause and call’ on the need for a ratified indigenous constitution, especially towards ushering the fiftieth year and beyond of Grenada’s Sovereign Independence.
Particularly, a profound rationale is required for the absence of constitutional matters as a worthy aspect under the area of “Governance and Institutional Rebuilding” in the NDC’s 2022 manifesto, especially by political analyst William Joseph who is also an apparent advisor and advocate for the party. Shouldn’t there be serious disappointments and concerns, and thus a self-devotion for reconsideration of the situation and for stocktaking on decisions with this absence, when for example on Joseph’s many writings, utterances and offerings on a New Future for Grenada?
“…There are 3 sources for shaping and giving substance to ‘The New Future’ while guiding the practice of ‘New Age Politics’. … Third, is the Constitution which needs to be reassessed and re-tooled if it must serve the people better for the next 50 years. The dominant challenge is to establish the Constitution beyond being the Supreme Law so that it mandates a binding framework for development …” The other sources elucidated by Joseph in his January 2021 publication, “The Patriotic Vine…Second Letter to the NDC Hierarchy”, are the Bible and the National Anthem on engendering hope. Joseph also raised therein that there is much that is good and valuable in the existing Constitution and he continues that NDC could advocate changes to constituting the Parliament such that it is no longer the exclusive preserve of politicians; changes to the composition of the Cabinet, introducing sanctions for disobedience and abuse will be highly beneficial; and a Prime Minister having over 20 lawful powers resembles the authority of a Monarch, should not be preserved in a new contract with the people.
Grenadians must pray that what seems to be an emergence of ‘conflict of interest’ with the NDC 2022 manifesto is not in conjunction with ‘conflict for supremacy of ideas’; this will definitely not be able to bear ‘quickly and easily‘ any healthy transformational fruits. It should be of great interest to note also the No Mention of the 2020-2035 National Sustainable Development Plan nor NDC’s 2017-2030 Policy Agenda; and noting what ‘odd’ might unfold in governance. Recall the last circulation, “Is There Any Substantial Choice In Grenada At Elections From Now On?”