NDC – Going forward with united sense of purpose

Posted by at 27 March, at 23 : 27 PM Print

St. George’s, March 27, 2011 – A senior member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said that as the party reaches its halfway point in government and heads into another general election, it needs “to go forward with a united sense of purpose.’’

General Secretary Peter David, addressing Sunday’s NDC General Council, described the party as one that always has respected “myriad of views and opinions,’’ and which has encouraged “debate that eventually finds common ground’’ and allows members to “move forward in love and comradeship.’’

The meeting, at Boca Secondary School in North-East St. George’s, was held under the theme, “Determined to Build a Better Grenada.’’ It was attended by rank and file NDC members, as well as senior government and party officials, including Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, who is also Leader of the National Democratic Congress.

“Today is not a day to debate the small things that have kept us back; but to look for the higher ideals that can take us forward,’’ said General Secretary David, MP for the Town of St. George.

“Our analyses must not be personal but they must be frank and fair,’’ he added. “We must not approach each debate as though it’s a fight between enemies; but as friends and comrades with different opinions and approaches, united in the common cause of the good of the party and the country.’’

Here is the text of the addressed delivered by the NDC General Secretary:

Political Leader, Brother Tillman Thomas,

Other members of the National Executive,

Members of the National Democratic Congress,

Sister and Brothers, Comrades all!

I bring to you special greetings from the members of the party’s Secretariat – a dedicated team of comrades who have labored in the vineyard dutifully and faithfully, particularly over the past few months. 

They have withstood all the challenges with little complaint, and are the foundation on which we have built whatever successes we are pleased to report on this morning. 

I also want to bring you special greetings from the constituency group in the Town of St George, whose support and inspiration are what keeps me going. 

Let me take this opportunity also, right off the bat, to remember all the party comrades who were here with us at General Council last year, but are no longer with us.

I want to especially invoke and honor the name of dear Brother “Woodnaught’’ Peters who only recently passed away.

Peters was one of the genuine stalwart party members who was there with us in the dark days and the good days.

He had an unmatched political street wisdom, uniquely informed by his honored working class upbringing.

Other than being a dedicated member of the party, he was someone that many of us could simply call – without hesitation – a friend.

I know I speak for our Political Leader Hon Tillman Thomas, and the representative of St Andrew’s South East Patrick Simmons, in saying that his loss is personal – for we all benefitted from his counsel.

For all of us who are members and supporters of the National Democratic Congress, now – more than ever – is a crucial time to take stock, since soon we will go pass the halfway point with our team as the ruling party of this country. Therefore, there is no better time than now to take stock of where we are as a party and government.

My role as General Secretary – in the short term – is to lead the drive to organize the party that will ensure that it is successful in the next general elections.

But in the overall and long term view, it is also to ensure that the party remains open, democratic and united, and always speaks to the needs of the people.

We must do everything possible to ensure we deliver on the promises we made to our people.

We must use all of our positions as a force for both good and unity; understanding that no good can come unless there is unity.

And unity does not mean unanimity of ideas, but built on the healthy respect of our differing views and the understanding of the need to go forward with a united sense of purpose.

The greater good and the deeper unity must continue for these are what made this party successful and victorious in the first place. And it is what will ensure that we maintain the confidence of the people in the fight against unemployment, poverty and for opportunity for all our people.

The strength of the NDC has always been a party that respects a myriad of views and opinions; that encourages debate that eventually finds common ground and move forward in love and comradeship.

These fundamentals were crucial while we were in opposition; and must remain so while we are in government. It is a self-evident truth that we, as leaders, will only succeed together, when we remain humble and grounded.

However, today must not be a day for recriminations or for bitterness; it is not a day to debate about the many opportunities missed.

Over the last two and a half years we have all made mistakes. It is a day to plan for the future with a sense of purpose and look forward with hope.

Today is not a day to debate the small things that have kept us back, but to look for the higher ideals that can take us forward.

Our analyses must not be personal but they must be frank and fair. We must not approach each debate as though it’s a fight between enemies; but as friends and comrades with different opinions and approaches, united in the common cause of the good of the party and the country.

Politics is always about choices. And what are before us are three things which we have already articulated in different fora in the past: We can go back; we can stand still; or we can move forward.

I am here to state that we MUST move forward – with divergent views but a unity of purpose. Our roles are not to miss further opportunities, but build up hope. And we must do this through reason and through respect for each other.

I have come to General Council meetings like these before with concerns; today I appear before you with more hope. The last year has convinced me more than ever that we have capable leadership, both inside and outside of the party, that can guide us through any path of uncertainty to better things.

And, when I have seen what is happening to the other party, whose central themes are to cry wolf rather than bring new ideas on the table; and when I see their desperation and inability to attract persons who are grounded with the people and who can lead; I have said to myself we are still members of the best party in this country.

This party shall remain the home of the best leaders of this country; and shall become the home of a new generation of youthful leaders, with ideas and daring, that will propel this country to a new path. 

The task of organizing the party remains, but I am pleased to report that we have made strong gains in that area since our last meeting.

There are still a lot of crucial and urgent things to be done – but I am one who prefers to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.

After much talk, we have begun in earnest, regular meetings with the various Zonal Committees to get feedback on the work of the party and government and to share our own suggestions and opinions.

Over the period under review we have met with every Constituency Executive on the mainland, and left outstanding is the need to meet with the Executive in Carriacou. I humbly apologize to the delegates of Carriacou but this will duly be done this quarter.

The Chairpersons of the Constituency Branches have been meeting every second Wednesday, and this has been a very useful avenue for feedback, agitation and direction.

The comrades have always been open and frank – something I personally cherish. The many criticisms I have received from them have been very useful, and have made me more focused and determined.

In the coming period, we would have to pay more attention to the women’s and youth arms and encourage them to form zonal committees and have regular meetings.

We are pleased to announce that there will be a Youth South Zone meeting this Wednesday. I want here to urge all Constituencies to work closely with the youth of the party who have been complaining that their voices are not being heard. I want to say to the youth of NDC that they should continue to work to prepare themselves for the task ahead. Do not be daunted.

The Women’s Arm has also been organizing in several constituencies and, only yesterday morning, held a prayer meeting in St. David. I want to congratulate the women on their work.

On the International front the NDC has continued to maintain old contacts and develop new ones over the last year. I was pleased to lead a delegation to Cuba earlier this year comprising members of the Women’s Arm, Youth Arm, and the Secretariat. We have also had delegations to China and several meetings to friendly parties in the region.

The party’s executive has also endorsed a work plan going forward – some of which we have already begun executing. A part of this plan has been to mobilize resources and people to help needy Grenadians to get housing upgrades; those of our citizens who might not have benefitted from the programme of the central government, but whose need remains huge and urgent.

So far we have done three such projects – two in the south and one in St Patrick East. And there are plans to do as many as possible, as both time and resources would allow.

While the driving force for this venture has come from the Secretariat and from the office of the General Secretary, I would also like to thank Sister Glynis Roberts and a friend of the party, Stanford Simon, who have been instrumental in the first few efforts.

I would also like to thank all the members and supporters who came out in their numbers to assist in the housing project. The support and encouragement of all the members of the parliamentary team have been special. I want to particularly thank the Prime Minister and our Political Leader, Tillman Thomas, for being such a great host recently in La Taste. Thank you, Prime Minister.

We also had a very successful outreach to people during the last Christmas period. We had over 30 Christmas parties and events, gave out over 15,000 pieces of toys and 200 hams.

And, there is much more action to come this year.

We have had one social activity, also over the Christmas period, and another is planned for next Sunday, April 3rd , in Levera, St. Patrick, the constituency of our dear Political Leader.

From here on in, we would have one of those every two months. An inter-constituency games’ day is also on the drawing board, and will take place this year.

The party will be sponsoring a number of computer labs and libraries – mainly electronic libraries – at least one in each constituency. The first one on the drawing board to happen this quarter will be in St David. I want to commend the St. David’s Constituency Branch for their work in this regard.

In the coming weeks, we will finalize plans for a youth training initiative for the upcoming holidays, under a programme called the SUMMER OF HOPE.

We will have a series of training opportunities, workshops and sessions in work skills, life skills, the arts and sports.

We are also getting ready to launch a scholarship fund, where the children of party members, who have attained certain scholastic standards and are in financial need, will be provided with either partial grants or whole grants, to go study at a tertiary institution.

We are also in the process of establishing a home and food depot to collect material and distribute to the poor and needy.

It is our view that apart from the safety net programmes established by the Government, we – as NDC – must do what we can to provide for people in need. It is our plan to establish these depots so that every month, we can make donations such as hamper distribution to the needy.

When the party came into power in 2008, we inherited a country in decline and an unhelpful world environment.

Given all the challenges and circumstances, we have managed the economy well, though our biggest failing has been not reaching out to the people more.

As seen in the housing project programme, we are beginning to do that more and more.

As I said in my address to the first convention after the 2008 electoral victory, the biggest challenge we face today is how the government can inspire the party; as well as whether the government will allow itself to be influenced by the party.

It still remains a challenge and an area we must collectively look at. The Secretariat, therefore, welcomes the workshop discussion here today on the following six topics:

1.     Party /Government Relations.

2.     Party Building.

3.     Public Relations & Branding

4.     Fundraising

5.     Party Discipline

6.     Public Engagement

It is my expectation that by the end of this General Council, we will have new and exciting ideas on how we can continue the work of this party.

As I said at the 2009 convention, whatever the challenges and the shortcomings, there must not be a deficit of hope, or a surplus of pettiness.

We will succeed if in this time of uncertainty, we continue to give our people hope. We will succeed if we put the wishes and aspirations of our members and the wider Grenadian society first. 

We will succeed once we continue to embrace each other, understanding and realizing that every member of this party brings something special to the table.

We will succeed, Comrades, if we keep the doors of all communications open, and talk to each other, rather than pass each other.

We will succeed if we effectively put all our plans into action.

Let this be a defining moment of solidarity and growth, not slowed by rumor or fear.

Let this be a defining moment of rebirth and outreach, not a time to go into retreat because we are crippled by our own insecurities.

We have a party and a country to build; the community is expectant and the world is watching.

I thank you very much.

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