PNP tightens selection process - Integrity Commission to vet candidates before internal races
Faced with the embarrassment of removing one person selected by delegates to contest the February 2016 general election and the withdrawal of another over issues of tax compliance, the People's National Party (PNP) will now conduct mandatory investigations on anyone wishing to represent the party.
The Sunday Gleaner has learnt that this recommendation was made at a June 2015 meeting of the PNP's National Executive Council and was accepted as part of its by-laws, but which was not implemented in the lead-up to the last election.
But the recommendation has returned as part of the executive summary of the 2016 post-election autopsy report from the appraisal committee chaired by Julian Robinson.
The PNP's Integrity Commission will be the body charged with the responsibility of vetting persons before they face the delegates for the right to represent the party in any election, but there are concerns that it will be under pressure to do the checks.
At a press conference last week, Robinson admitted that the Integrity Commission needs strengthening. He noted that the members of the commission serve in a voluntary capacity and the sheer numbers of checks to be done could prove overwhelming.
"When you come to a general election, for example, you could be facing scores of individuals and the task may become a bit daunting. But it is something we believe is right, and something that has to be done."
CURRENT FLAWS IN THE SYSTEM
The PNP deputy general secretary pointed to flaws in the system now being used by the party.
"For example, let's say there are four or five aspirants who have an interest in a seat. What has been the practice is that the aspirants would engage in a contest and the person who emerges as successful would then be the person who is subject to the Integrity Commission," explained Robinson.
"What we are saying now, it is before the four or five aspirants face the delegates; they would be subject to the Integrity Commission."
Although there is no indication when the long-delayed local government election will be held, Robinson said the process of vetting candidates will start shortly.
"We are definitely doing it for all new aspirants. But right now, local government candidates will be our focus. Most of the existing local government candidates are returning candidates so it makes it a bit easier. But for the immediate future, all aspirants will face to commission," Robinson told The Sunday Gleaner.
He said the commission will not be involved in the looming contest in the St Andrew South constituency, where former ministers Colin Campbell and Mark Golding will square off for chairmanship of the constituency.
"Remember now, this is for chairmanship of the constituency and not candidate of the party. Although in 90 per cent of the cases the chairman of the constituency is usually the candidate and would face the commission, it is not automatic that it is so," said Robinson.