Sunday, 16 February 2014

Keith Mitchell: Newly minted Crusader for National Unity


Dr. Keith Mitchell, in his Independence Day address said” I again offer my hand to my political opponents. I say come let us build our nation together”. In the same vein he said to the New York based Diaspora, “I make a call today for all of us, despite our differences, let us unite. Let us unite to build our country first”. Dr Mitchell also anchored his call by making biblical reference to 1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish ways”

Dr Mitchell’s political career can be described as probably the greatest contributor to the post revolution saga of divisiveness and political morass. When he wrested control of the New National Party (NNP) from Herbert Blaize, many opined that it was an act of treachery as he constantly reassured Mr Blaize of his unwavering loyalty. Mr. Blaize actually believed Dr Mitchell until his rude awakening on the convention floor. Dr. Mitchell in his defence said that Mr Bliaze must have been naive to think that a challenge was not imminent as opinion polls indicated that Dr. Mitchell was the most popular politician in the country at that time.

The endless making and breaking of makeshift alliances along with back door deal making has been the hallmark of modus operandi of Dr. Mitchell. In the process, political friendships were made and broken with such ruthlessness, that he has accumulated an unenviable briefcase of enemies of all shades.
The long stream of public scandals which culminated with the “Briefcase Inquiry’ are potent reminders that Dr. Mitchell’s personal credibility is tenuous at best even with avowed supporters of the NNP. The ugly outburst that “Me damn money is mine” still causes self respecting Grenadians to cringe about the reality that a sitting Prime Minister can bring the office into such disrepute.

Many Grenadians recall that in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) made a call for the formation of a National Unity Government. Dr. Mitchell scoffed at the proposal and even went on to insinuate that a coup was in the making. The then Prime Minister Manning of Trinidad and Tobago appeared to have believed the rumour and began to take certain measures to quell a nonexistent threat.

Colour politics of Dr Mitchell’s vintage has now defined the political landscape of the country. This phenomenon directly affects the functioning of public institutions like the Civil service, the Royal Grenada Police Force and Statutory Bodies. The pervasive stench of political cronyism and the absence of respect for professionalism and merit have conspired against the efficient management of these institutions. Since the second clean sweep election victory by the NNP, Dr. Mitchell has again showed that he has not changed. His handlers wanted to make us believe that he is now a “kinder and gentler” however the treatment meted out to Sir Carlyle Glean and Commissioner Thompson has blown this myth out of the skies.

An even more worrying trend is the fact that he uses the Parliament to malign and criticise ordinary citizens who are not in a position to defend themselves in the hallowed chambers of the House. His unwarranted attack on Mr. Jude Bernard, a local commentator, bears testimony to this. The Prime Minister’s use of insults and downright lies against opponents is legendary. I contend that Dr. Mitchell’s conduct past and present make him ineligible to lead the charge for national unity. His arrogance, disrespectful conduct and his known penchant to say one thing and do another, further diminishes his chances of success.

 The biblical reference made in 1st Corinthians which he himself cited is of the essence. Dr. Mitchell has not transitioned from (political) childhood and no amount of flowery language will camouflage the opportunistic intent for his call for National Unity. His newly converted followers, Peter David and Chester Humphrey, cannot create traction for “Project Grenada” which is intended to provide tacit support for the Prime Minister’s crusade. It all has to do with his attempt to cement a legacy which is but a fleeting illusion.

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