Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another chapter of my manifesto of rebellion

I spent the last week in Grenada, observing first hand some of the political developments – and been too busy going all over the place to put pen to paper until now.

And since Glen Noel has publicly asked me to comment on the rally – let me start there. 
Whether it was a success or not frankly depends on what were the expectations going in. 

I won’t even get into the arguments about numbers. That 2,800 figure is absolutely ridiculous. It was not even half of that.

Whatever the figure was – the New National Party rally at Gouyave on that same day had roughly about three times that size – which will put it at nearly 9,000 – which of course will be equally ridiculous. 

But to more substantive matters – and it is a question I have not received a serious answer from anyone for a long time. 

Is this confidence rally the beginning of a path to any victory? 

Can a divided NDC win a seat – let alone an election? 

Now if Glen Noel and Nazim Burke believe so, e-mail me the information on that grass they are smoking. I need some of it. 

Sunday’s meeting was simply an ego trip into the political wonderland. 

First of all the organizers successfully hoodwinked enough people to make-believe this is some innocent, non-partisan meeting.

It was a decidedly poisonous and disingenuous political rally of a faction of the NDC – using state officials to co-oridnate and run the operation because the Prime Minister could not count on the defacto party machinery.

And I have not heard any of these holier-than-thou acolytes of good governance lift a voice against what was a wanton abuse of the power of the state for a narrow political purpose. 

The declaration that the meeting did not cost the state a thing, is so blatantly not true – that Ray Charles could see through that.

So what's with the invoices generated for various services that have been billed to the state? How will these be settled? 

And what about the GIS van that went around advertising the meeting? 

And even if we conveniently accept the statement that the meeting did not cost the state a thing, it leads to even more troubling questions. 

Those troubling questions were properly captured by an unsolicited e-mail a friend of mines from overseas sent me this past week – and I will borrow the comment as if they are mine. 

She wrote:

Then there is the rally. The man said he is having a rally in his capacity as PM. It is a thanksgiving rally. Well since when can we use state funds to have a rally to promote a PM?  Especially when the entire charade was loaded with party rhetoric; people with their NDC T-Shirts shouting .No Tilly,  No NDC. A senator on the podium talking about (Michael) Church is not an NDC he is an NNP. Now does that sound like a government rally to you? 

But the most crucial thing is, if the rally was deemed a government rally and the government did NOT foot the bill then that's worst. 

How could you have private individuals funding state functions?  Isn't that the beginning of corruption? 
 What will the government subsequently owe these individuals? How influential would they be in the policy and other decisions of the state?  Like Mr Transparency really doesn't understand what good governance means. Worst yet we have so-called journalists that is incapable of analyzing the current situation. 

Those were fair comments and insights. 

The other aspect of Sunday that troubled me was the appearance of two leaders of the NGO community apparently representing their organizations at this venomous political event.

It is their right if they want to participate in their individual capacities – but to do so on behalf of their organizations was a terrible lack of judgment. 

I admire and appreciate the work the two women have done in the community, and I think their hearts (no pun intended) are in the right places. 

However, I would think they’d want to look back on this episode and wish it did not happen.

The development effectively undermined their great work; not enhanced it. (PS: I love them still). 

The other issue making the rounds in Grenada this past week was the reported transfer of $150,000 US to the account of a top government official. 

Now in the face of a lack of regulation on campaign financing, there is nothing inherently wrong with donations – every politician and party badly need them. 

And there has been no outright denial from the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Information about the “donations.”  The only denials have been it was not from Saudi Arabia and it was not underhand.

That may or may not be so. 

But if it was a campaign donation as the Prime Minister alluded to, can he explain why the bank declaration stated “legal fees''? 

Legal fees for what? For the sale-of-passport scheme? 

And if it was a campaign donation, was it for the party? Have the funds been transferred to the party since? 

And while we are at it – who is this donor anyhow? 

(Show me your company and I will show you who you are). 

The other dynamic in this entire issue, is that we have a government and a prime minister that have set themselves up as beyond reproach with matters of integrity.

With lesser mortals maybe we should let this pass.

But for leaders whose biggest claim to fame is some self-declared sainthood, the development should give us a funny feel in the stomach. 

And it is not enough to use as a counter-argument that NNP did worse.

Frankly, the mainstream media have given the Thomas administration a pass on this issue - as on many other issues such as the Sewang matter and how the PM was made to sign an MOU and then rebuked for doing so; and how the passport-selling Grenada Individual Investor Program had begun to be promoted without the approval of cabinet. 

If only this accusation of the $150,000 US was against Keith Mitchell, I would have heard all the pious statements of either concern or condemnation. 

And one final point – and I make it both jokingly and seriously in the same breath. 
Glen Noel and some former comrades of mine have sought to dismiss my writings as a front for an agenda of the “conspirators”. 

To do so is to cheapen my self-authored manifesto of rebellion for which I shall not apologize. 

If they ask you what I want, tell them – less hypocrisy; real accountability and transparency – and a little delivery for ordinary people.

Until that time I will remain unconquered and unbowed.

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