Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Gov't, Opposition spar over ZOSO hotline clash

Published:Monday | September 4, 2017 | 9:00 AMPaul Clarke
Soldiers take in two men said to be of interest to the Mount Salem Police Station where they were detained.
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The Opposition's zones of special operations (ZOSO) complaints number, announced through the media last Friday, has left some worried it could create confusion and stymie the efforts of the joint command to actively take on the concerns of citizens on the ground. This as the Opposition number ends with the same four digits as the official one.

The ZOSO Communication Centre on Saturday urged persons to call 1-888-225-ZOSO (888-225-9676) - the dedicated toll-free number - to lodge complaints about treatment by security forces operating inside the first zone, which has been set up in Mount Salem, St James.

The Opposition's number (876) 361-ZOSO, or 361-9676 has left Robert Morgan, communications director in the Office of the Prime Minister, thinking it could confuse potential callers.

"I don't speak for the ZOSO joint command, but, from a communications perspective from the Office of the Prime Minister, we are concerned because it could lead to some amount of confusion and what we are seeking is for people to report their concerns directly to the authorities, so that the framework that exists and which has been passed into law can be used to ensure that those concerns are addressed as soon as possible," he said.

 

OFFICIAL COMPLAINT

 

"There is one official ZOSO complaints customer service number and that is the one that we would prefer persons go through first."

While saying he would not ascribe a motive for the creation of the "other ZOSO hotline", Morgan said that it makes no sense to have a number bearing such close similarity to the official one being used for the same purpose.

"The people who are being impacted by the zone of special operations at this time live in Montego Bay, they live in the community; the joint command is located within their community, so it doesn't make sense for somebody to be calling a political organisation based in Kingston, when they will not have an opportunity to help immediately. This is pure and simple politics," Morgan said.

 

 ...We put out number first - Robinson

General Secretary of the People's National Party, Julian Robinson, defended the Opposition's zone of special operations (ZOSO) hotline, telling The Gleaner the party was first to issue such a number and that concerns about its intentions are unfounded.

According to Robinson, although there are similarities, the party's dedicated number is not a counter-effort to that of the joint command, but is intended to give the people another access point to lodge complaints if and when those arise.

"Nothing could be further from the truth that the Opposition was attempting to sow seeds of discord. The fact is that we had put out a number with the acronym 'ZOSO' used as the final four digits before the Government did," he explained.

"I don't believe there is incompatibility at all between the respective numbers. To be criticising us when we were the first to come out with a number is very unfortunate of the Government," he noted.

However, Robert Morgan, the communications director in the Office of the Prime Minister, has rubbished the Opposition's suggestion that there could be no confusion around the numbers.

He said that people in the zones must be reminded of the official channels to lodge their concerns.

"Nothing is wrong with people having options, but I would hasten to remind us that the use of the official number should take precedence," said Morgan.

"I think the question they should answer is why should a political party use the acronym of the ZOSO in their political action, given that it's not official. The idea that they were first to put out this number is irrelevant," he said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com