No bogus delegates - PNP outlines conference plans; hundreds of 'disputed' delegates now resolved
The Electoral Office of Jamaica, along with an internal team of People's National Party (PNP) officials, will oversee the internal elections this Saturday to be held at the National Arena to elect the party president and four vice-presidents.
In outlining the plans for the private and public sessions, the party, at a press conference yesterday at its Old Hope Road headquarters, said the matter of the names of 1,500 delegates that were being disputed has been resolved, save for 300, which were expected to be cleared by the end of the day.
ID number errors
Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson outlined several reasons for the discrepancies.
"Let me indicate how we got to that position. When you register with the party, you have to
provide your EOJ identification number ... . Very often, when this information is transmitted to the secretariat, there might be a mistake in the transmission of the number. So one digit may be off," explained Robinson.
"So when we sent the list to the EOJ on Friday, they used this number to identify the persons. When they did that on Friday, they could not identify about 1,500 persons. Since then, we have had a team from the secretariat working with the EOJ, and we have narrowed that figure down to 300 person now. And we anticipate that by the end of the day, the majority of those persons will be identified," stated Robinson.
"So it's not that they are not on the list. It's simply that there could be an error in the number or a spelling mistake," he explained.
He said in the case of an individual in his constituency, there was misspelling of the Christian name and surname, resulting in the individual not being identified.
"It's not that the persons don't exist. And it's not that they are not on the list," he stated.
Just over 3,400 delegates will cast ballots in Saturday's elections.
They will choose four of five from Fenton Ferguson, Noel Arscott, Angela Brown Burke, Lisa Hanna, and Wykeham McNeill as vice-presidents, and between Portia Simpson Miller and Dr Karl Blythe as party president.
Journalists were told that all individuals seeking to be elected have been asked to contribute $200,000 to offset the election charge. The election is to be run by the EOJ at at cost of $2.2 million.
Meanwhile, PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill has said that he has never collected any sums on behalf the party during an election campaign that he did not turn over.
"That is a resolute and absolute no! I have collected monies for the party, but any such monies I would have turned over. But this business ... when I heard about it in a contract that one per cent for this and one and a half per cent, nonsense!" exclaimed Pickersgill.
"Nonsense! Nonsense! The Government could not enter into anything like that," said Pickersgill.
PNP General Secretary Paul Burke has made the allegation that large companies have paid between one and one and a half per cent as part of a finder's fee for large projects.
Burke's comments came as he described the campaign finance saga that has gripped the party since party treasurer Norman Horne made allegations in his report that senior members of the party withheld funds intended for the election campaign.
Another former minister, Noel Arscott, was the first to declare that his hands were clean of any allegations that he withheld funds.
Contractor General Dirk Harrison is conducting investigations into the allegations.
Voting will take place on Saturday at the National Arena, and Sunday's public session will be held at the Jamaica College auditorium.