Are new Grenada elections inevitable?
By Julius Gabriel
ST GEORGE'S, Grenada, Monday January 30, 2012 - Political forgiveness and survival have occurred before in Grenada and other Caribbean jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the current ongoing bickering and internal conflicts between Grenada’s Prime Minister Thomas and some elected and appointed members of his Cabinet now seem to have reached a boiling point with no possible reversal.
Within the last eighteen (18) months, Thomas was forced to tweak his Cabinet under the disguise of ensuring more efficiency in ministries and statutory bodies. This sounded well and the Prime Minister went on to make the Ministerial changes. Unfortunately for the Prime Minister and Governor General, these Ministerial changes were not readily accepted by at least two Ministers. With their non- appearance at the residence of the Governor-General to take their oath of office, Their non-appearance resulted in the Prime Minister camping out in the Governor-General’s residence with two of his senior aides being designated as watch men to blow the horn when the two disgruntled Ministers turned up. From all available information, the two Ministers turned up shortly after noon on a bright Grenada Monday. The oath of office was taken and the necessary instruments given to each Minister.
Prime Minister Thomas and his security detail immediately headed for his Hermitage residence and his two watchmen returned to the Botanical Gardens to resume their roles as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Press Secretary. It was indeed a frustrating episode for both the Heads of State and Government. This episode has now been recorded in the history books of the famous spice isle.
"Grenadians will once again be heading to the polls to rescue the spice isle"--Julius GabrielFurther observations reveal that the cabinet tweaking did not resolve the marriage turbulence. As a matter of fact the turbulence became stronger and Thomas’s approach was to be engaged in further tweaking of the Grenada Cabinet.
The second cabinet tweaking resulted in an elected member who held a very important Ministry being shifted to another Ministry and replaced by an appointed Senator. There were some other Cabinet changes notably through another appointed Senator who continues to show defiance to the Prime Minister as late as January 18, 2012.
In assessing the shaky marriage turbulence between RMC/NDC operatives, January 17, 2012 will be remembered as the” final salvo” that will result in the dissolution of the marriage.
It was the usual Cabinet meeting on January 18, 2012, the elected and appointed members of government all assembled for the weekly event under the Chairpersonship of Prime Minister Thomas. The latter arrived late and after the usual prayer ceremony, Tilly was in no laughing mood. Without attempting to get an explanation from Minister Gilbert about a policy issue that the Cabinet previously voted against, Thomas apparently made the tactical error of attempting to fire Minister Gilbert which brought disapproval by many present. It is my understanding that Thomas backed off but later called the Governor General instructing him to revoke Gilbert’s appointment.
What is at issue in this article is the probability of the Grenadian electorate perception of the convenient marriage and Thomas’s leadership of the nation. In my view, Thomas made a tactical error yesterday when he succeeded in getting one of the NDC media mouth piece to publish a release stating that Minister Gilbert was under scrutiny. It is my feeling that if Thomas was of the view that Gilbert broke Cabinet Solidarity, there was no need to resort to such poor media tactics. He should have called the Governor General on Tuesday night to alert him of the pending revocation. He chose not to do thus giving additional negative perceptions of his inability to lead effectively and make decisions.
With all of the above said, it will be interesting to see how the Gilbert matter unfolds. Will Gilbert’s elected and appointed ministerial colleagues resign and sit as independents; look for refuge in the opposition or establish a new political party? The chatters around St George’s is saying whatever they decide the electorate does not care as those elected members who might contemplate defection should think twice because they are unlikely to be re-elected.
It is unfortunate that the state of governance and leadership have reached this destructive level in Grenada. However’ it is not surprising as marriages of convenience between loose political allies do not always work. But Tilly did not care; his main objective was becoming Prime Minister and the difference in ideology was not going to stop him. But was him true to himself and the country?
So what does the future hold? It is difficult to presume at this stage. Suffice to say that the RMC/NDC marriage will soon dissolve and Grenadians will once again be heading to the polls to rescue the spice isle. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Julius Gabriel.