SPECIAL EDITION OF STICKING A PIN …
Written by William Joseph on July 15, 2017
GRENADA’S ‘WHITE FOREST’
Things occurring in unprecedented or unexpected ways (coming out of nowhere), at a scale or significance that cause major shifts from the norm, are sometimes considered to be ‘phenomena’. The current challenges by Whiteman and Forrester may well constitute a phenomenon in Grenadian politics.
While such challenges sit comfortably at the table of constitutional rights and freedoms, they do raise questions of self-management, reality checks, cultural fitness, appreciation of the times and knowing what is good for Grenada. The image of a ‘White Forest’ on the Grenadian landscape falls in the category of phenomenon. Therefore, attention must be paid to its deeper meaning and significance for the people.
Those who doubt that we live under a dictatorship of the political parties are wrong! Those who think that political parties are the custodians of free speech and democracy are also wrong! What is confounding, though, is that Grenadians would fail to recognize these conditions after having had a decade of experience under Gairy’s GULP and Bishop’s NJM.
Opening one’s eyes on the era of Keith Mitchell’s NNP, one sees a party that was built singlehandedly on the crafted popularity of that leader. The NNP belongs to Keith! The NNP is Keith! Those who take up lodging in the ‘House’ are well aware of the terms and conditions of occupancy. Their presence there is due to personal interests and has precious little to do with the interests of the Grenadian public.
The public’s attention to what is unfolding in and around the NNP is due to the fact that that party forms the Government and wishes to retain power. The public is not directly concerned about justice and fairness within the NNP, but whether developments there based on dis-affections, divergence of views, disagreements or unhappiness rise to the level of division!
This is the problem ground! It played out with the NJM/PRG leading up to mass murders in October, 1983 and again with the NDC from November, 2010 to its rejection at the polls in February, 2013. The message then is that division within a ruling party leads to its demise through one route or another. Division breeds instability! Here is where the public steps in!
Can it be properly said that the situation affecting the NNP today amounts to division? Seemingly not, as more is required to meet the requirements of division. One limiting factor is the position and status of the unhappy occupants. None of them are in Keith’s Cabinet or even the party’s Executive. If Honourable Modeste or Boatswain were to ‘make a play’ in opposition to Keith’s agenda, then that would be a qualifying condition for division.
Nonetheless, and especially because elections are imminent, how Keith Mitchell handles the problem may be of limited interest to certain sections of the population. Raphael Fletcher (deceased) brought down the NNP administration in 1999 on allegations of corruption against the party leader. The NNP won the elections, taking all the seats! Will allegations of the same kind produce different results?
It is difficult to see how the skirmishes inside the NNP provide an opportunity for the NDC. ‘The noise in the market is not the sales’! After all, the NDC is not innocent when it comes to handling divergent views or respecting democratic rights of its members. Recall the vicious Facebook attack (January 2014) on this writer because he dared to say he did not support Burke for leader. Recall also the prolonged attack on radio by surrogates and supporters. Even today, good retired ladies are encouraged to resume the attack without facts and in circumstances where the NDC leader knows the truthfulness of statement attributed to him (“I have four university degrees and given what I have gone through in the politics…I am engaging on my own terms”). No spin four years later could conceal the plain meaning of those words!
Beyond these considerations lay concerns about the future of Grenadian politics and governance. The ‘White Forest’ phenomenon is speaking a message of change in the right direction. We cannot continue with the dictatorship of the political parties or with the drive of personal ambition over service to the Nation. We cannot continue with leaders who are ageing, unprincipled, unjust, lacking in freshness or tainted, morally or otherwise. We must say no to those who are Communists at heart and who long for a restoration of revolutionary times without the guns!
Time now to turn to the best among our forty year-olds (fresh, intelligent, patriotic and untainted) and train them up to lead this country. Canada and France are led by men of that age, as was Britain with Tony Blair. It may well be that the Lord is using Whiteman and Forrester to show us the wrongness of our ways and the urgency to turn away and change leadership course. That is why ‘White Forest’ is a phenomenon and not a mental illusion!