The Grenada Revolution Online

NJM Manifesto -

PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLIES FOR POWER TO THE PEOPLE

The Constitution

The Constitution is a body of Rules which are supposed to reflect the legal principles under which a people agree to be governed within a State. Usually these laws seek to provide for the equality of all citizens before the law and to ensure that even the Government is subject to the law of the land. This legal principle is expressed as the rule of the law.

There are countries in the world which do not have written Constitutions, e.g. Britain, where the rule of law may yet be maintained. The fact of having a written Constitution does not of itself guarantee that the laws will be respected or enforced. What is important is the value which the people and the Government solace on the importance of upholding the law.

We are in favour of Grenada having a written Constitution. What is important, however, is that our Constitution must reflect our genuine aspirations and ideas about justice. A Constitution is meaningless to a people unless it is obtained by the process of the people's involvement. The present Constitution is a total farce, and its provisions are broken, ignored or rejected by this Government as a matter of course.

A meaningful Constitution must at least contain:

    (1) A statement of the basic principles for which the society stands;
    (2) Machinery for the protection and enforcement of fundamental rights and freedoms. Both of these essentials are missing in our present Constitution.

We reject as a total pappyshow the present 1967 and the proposed 1974 Constitutions which were imposed on us by the British Government. it is a shameful reflection that it took three trips to London to discuss the 1974 Constitution and all that resulted is three minor changes from the Associated States Constitution of 1967. In effect Englishmen drafted the laws which are to govern us. We had no say. We will use the Independence Constitution as the basis for discussion in the preparation of a meaningful Constitution for a new and democratic society.

The Civil Service

We have been stressing that the three main arms of the apparatus of the State - the Courts, the Police and the Civil Service - are all badly in need of repair.

With the Civil Service, the problems have been victimisation by the Government, inefficiency in certain departments due to lack of overall co-ordination, breakdown in communication between Permanent Secretaries and their staff and between Permanent Secretaries and their Ministers, a climate of frustration due to the Government's open policy of biased promotions of their political supporters regardless of their qualifications, experience, energy or ability, nonproductivity on the part of many civil servants who see themselves as only awaiting a pension, and a general lack of direction and aimlessness on the part of those civil servants forced to abandon planning for the “dreams” of Lucifer.

The urgent need is to inject the Service with a new approach of dedication, direction, efficiency and commitment to the aims, values and aspirations of a people searching for a new life in a new society.

The Civil Service Association must be given the assurance that it will allowed to conduct its activities and look after the interests of its members in an atmosphere free of political pressure and victimisation.

We will consider the desirability of increasing the membership of the Public Service Commission and of allowing two it its members to be appointed by workers in the Public Service, including civil servants, teachers, policemen and nurses.

A survey will be undertaken to determine the best ways of achieving meaningful change in the smooth running, coordination, work-sharing, attracting of appropriate personnel and the restoration of a sense of values and direction to the Service.

As a first priority, we will immediately discontinue the practice of using civil servants as politicians. The funds now being wasted on the eighty-two Farmers' Club organisations!, with a minimum salary of $210.00 per month each) will be discontinued.

New Villages

We plan to provide a home for every family (and every family deserves a home), a home with the basic amenities and at the lowest possible cost. We believe that such homes should be erected in areas where materials are obtainable or easily transportable, and where facilities are easily serviceable.

We see the need for the creation of entirely new communities organized along different lines to the present villages. These new villages would be self-contained communities with a housing estate, shopping area, recreational facilities, including community centre, properly planned and maintained roads, health clinic, church, school and a properly organized bus service.

Each house will be properly equipped with its own toilet and bath facilities and electricity. There will be at least a number of public telephones for the use of tile village. The people of the village will .run the village through their local Village Assembly.

The aim of these new villages would be to “townify” the country and “countrify” the town; that is, we would aim at providing the best features of town life to folk living in the country and vice versa.

People's Assemblies and the Two Stages of the New Form of Government

Since politics deals with the making of decisions, and since politics is largely the process which decides who gets what, where, how and when, New Jewel does not consider it to be the function of an “exclusive club.” NJM stands solidly behind People's Assemblies as the new form of government that will involve all the people all the time. Through this form, people will be assured of both their political and their economic rights. To us, People's Assemblies will bring in true democracy.

Nevertheless, NJM does not expect that People's Assemblies will be able to take over right away. It will take time to get these Assemblies really going. We therefore hold that when power changes hands in the near future, there will have to be a provisional government, an in-between government. That government will be dedicated to the task of developing People's Assemblies, among other things. It will have the task of starting, promoting, encouraging and generally bringing into being these Assemblies.

Who will make up this new Government? That will have to emerge more precisely as the circumstances develop. As a guide, that government will be made up of a cross-section of the society. It will be made up of all major groups, without regard to favour GULP, GNP, JEWEL, alike. Ability, dedication and patriotism will be the standards. it will be made up of representatives of workers and unions, farmers, police, civil servants, nurses, teachers, businessmen and students. These groups will be consulted in advance and they will choose their own representatives on the government. That assembly made up of representatives of all groups in the island will be the government.

The government will operate on the basis of collective leadership. All important decisions will be made by the whole group. There will be no Premier. The Assembly will elect a different chairman at intervals. Details as to who will be in charge of which Ministry will be worked out by the Assembly.

Later on, however, after consultation with the people at large, and with their consent, People's Assemblies will be implemented.

How will these Assemblies work? NJM has covered this subject at great length in previous publications. We shall only summarise it here.

But before we do this, let us state that we are rejecting the party system for many reasons. Firstly, parties divide the people into warring camps. Secondly, the system places power into the hands of a small ruling clique. That clique victimises and terrorises members of the other party. Thirdly, the ruling elite seizes control of all avenues of public information, for example, the radio station, and uses them for its own ends. Finally, and most importantly, it fails to involve the people except for a few seconds once in every five years when they make an “X” on a ballot paper. Therefore, we wish to replace the party system by People's Assemblies as outlined below.

Firstly, there will be the Village Assemblies. Each adult citizen, from eighteen years of age, will be a member of his Village Assembly. The Village .Assembly will discuss the problems of the village and take decisions of them. It will meet, say, once a month. The Village Assembly will elect a small Council to implement its decisions. That Council or any member of it can be dismissed and replaced at any time that the Assembly decides.

Secondly, we propose the creation of Parish Assemblies. These will be made up of representatives from throughout the parish. Each Village Assembly will send two delegates to the Parish Assembly. The Parish Assembly will elect a Parish Council. These Assemblies will discuss the problems of the parishes and reach decisions on them. it will be the duty of the Parish Councils to implement these decisions.

Thirdly, we advocate the creation of Workers Assemblies, which will be organised along similar lines to the Village Assemblies. These Assemblies would be entitled to representation in the National Assembly. These Assemblies would comprise, for example, stevedores, nurses, teachers, students and so on. Workers Assemblies will ensure that the present exploitation of workers being carried on by certain leaders in the name of Trade Unionism will come to an end. This will be so because for the first time the control and direction of their own lives will be in the hands of the workers themselves rather than in the hands of corrupt politicians whose only interests are in lining their pockets and riding on the backs of the labouring masses to keep political power.

Finally there is the National Assembly. This will be the Government of the land. It will be made up of representatives chosen from each village and the Workers Assembly, one each. The national Assembly will elect its Council to put the decisions into practice. Members of the Council will be on Committees which will head government departments.

The precise demarcation and division of powers and functions, age participation, and normal frequency of elections will have to be agreed upon, after further discussions by the people. Power, however, will be rooted in the villages and at our places of work. At any tine, the village can fire and replace its Council, its representative on the Parish Assembly, or its representative on the National Assembly. Together, the people of the villages and workers can throw out the whole National Assembly and put in a new one. In this way, power will be in the hands of the people of the villages.

People's Assemblies, therefore, will end the deep divisions and victimisation of the people found under the party system. This new form will involve all the people in decision-making, all the time.

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