Six NDP Marriaqua Constituency Division members resign
Six members of the Marriaqua Constituency Division of the New Democratic Party (NDP) have resigned, saying they have lost all confidence in their party’s leadership.
Their resignation came in a letter dated August 27, 2020 and addressed to NDP president Godwin Friday.
“As you are aware, democracy, transparency and integrity have always been a part of our party’s political philosophy.
These cherished values have however been eroded by the recent behavior and actions displayed by the leadership of the New Democratic Party.
“We, as members of the constituency division have been consistent and diligent with whatever tasks were placed before us to perform. Unfortunately we can no longer boast of democracy, transparency and integrity when our leaders do not abide by the rules which they expect us to adhere.
“We have lost all confidence in our party’s leadership. As a result, we are uneasy in continuing our work as members of the Marriaqua constituency division in such a toxic and biased environment.
“In this regard, after careful thought and consideration we the undersigned executive members of the NDP Marriaqua constituency division, hereby tender our resignation from the constituency division with immediate effect,” the letter, authored by constituency council chairman Berisford George said.
The letterhead also names Leontius Robinson as deputy chairman, Pastor Monroe Hector as treasurer and Swelin Samuel as secretary, but it is not clear who are the other five members of the council who resigned.
The authenticity of the letter, which was circulated on social media this week, was verified yesterday by NDP president Godwin Friday.
He told SEARCHLIGHT that the entire constituency division did not tender its resignation, only the six persons who signed the letter. The council is made up of 30 members.
The resignations are in protest of the NDP’s central executive’s decision to not ratify the Marriaqua constituency division’s pick of Kirk DaSilva to represent the NDP in that area during the next General Elections. The central executive chose Bernard Wyllie instead.
Friday told SEARCHLIGHT that it is unfortunate that the members of the constituency division who signed the letter did not reach out to him first.
“If they have something to bring to my attention they should have asked to meet, but they have tendered their resignations,” Dr Friday stated while also noting that the reasons given by the six for withdrawing from constituency division duties have no foundation in fact, in reality or in the NDP’s constitution.
“The process was done in accordance with our constitution which is voting at two levels, so it cannot be that one level is democratic and the other level is undemocratic, because it goes a different way. That simply cannot be,” Friday told SEARCHLIGHT.
Last month, during the vote at the constituency division level, DaSilva was chosen over public servant Phillip Jackson, pharmacist Curtis Bowman and former NDP parliamentarian Bernard Wyllie.
DaSilva received 15 votes, Wyllie got 8, Jackson, 4 and Bowman, 2.
But soon after the decision by the council was made public, several persons rallied to have DaSilva replaced, and when the NDP’s central executive met, they decided to go with Wyllie. The vote for Wyllie at that level was unanimous.
Wyllie, a former two-term parliamentary representative for Marriaqua under the NDP administration lost his seat in 1998 by 992 votes to Girlyn Miguel of the ULP.
The NDP’s constitution states that if the votes at the constituency division level do not show that 75 per cent of the members support the winning candidate, the executive body may change the decision.
Friday said that he is 100 per cent sure that the executive body, which is made up of over 50 members got the decision to replace DaSilva with Wyllie correct. He said that in September last year, 1000 persons in the Marriaqua area were polled and Wyllie secured 52 per cent of the votes.
“Kirk came to run and people were saying all sort of things and I told him to go out and campaign and see what support he has,” Friday said while stressing that he does not get directly involved in constituency division business because he wants the members to get the best candidates.
“I tell them, get the best, and that’s all. My obligation is to win in Marriaqua. There was a selection at the first level and there were people who were asking for verification and we followed the constitution as closely as possible.
The contention started even before the voting started,” Friday revealed while noting also that on selection night, 29 persons showed up and voted and it was unusual that DaSilva did not get more than 75 per cent of the vote.
He said that many times, candidates have received 100 per cent of the vote. He said the outcry that followed DaSilva’s pick told him that the division had got the selection process wrong, as did the survey done last September.
Friday says he is convinced that the selection of DaSilva by the division did not reflect the will of the people in Marriaqua.
“I went there for four hours yesterday (Wednesday) and not one person complained (about Wyllie). I am satisfied that the constituency division got it wrong. I don’t know on what basis they voted,” said Friday who believes that members sometimes get close to a prospective candidate and vote personally and not what the community reflects.
“My job is to win an election and I am convinced Bernard is the right pick,” Friday said while adding that the process gave a result which is in in sync with Marriaqua.
“This is a person that gives us the best chance. Twenty-nine voted out of 30, and at central, is over 50 people and it was a unanimous ratification, and how can that not be transparent?” Friday asserted.
Yesterday, a Facebook user going by the name Selwin Delpesche said he is the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Marriaqua Constituency Council and the resignations were news to him.
“We never had any meetings to discuss resignation nor any problem the group might be facing. I am disappointed to read about this. We had a walk around the valley yesterday, Wednesday the 2nd of September and Mr Berisford George was there side by side with Dr Friday and the rest of the team,” part of the Facebook post said.
Friday confirmed this part as fact.
The post goes on: “He (George) was telling people Dr Friday is a good leader and asking to support Friday and Bernard Wyllie. I was there, if I didn’t see and hear for myself I wouldn’t believe it. This letter makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You know, what God bless everyman with a conscience if anyone trying to undermine the leadership of the party, you will be defeated.Together we stand together we achieve only fool stand in the way of progress I rest my case.”
Friday said he had not seen the post.
General Elections in SVG are constitutionally due by March 2021.