Thu | Apr 2, 2020

‘This is not about enriching yourself’ - Holness warns Labourite reps against corruption, arrogance

Published:Monday | February 10, 2020 | 12:20 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Party leader Andrew Holness greets a supporter at the JLP’s Area Council Two meeting at the Portmore HEART Academy in St Catherine.
Party leader Andrew Holness greets a supporter at the JLP’s Area Council Two meeting at the Portmore HEART Academy in St Catherine.

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness launched a blistering broadside against self-serving politics yesterday, issuing a stern warning to those under his watch that he would not tolerate graft and self-enrichment as he eyes a second term in office.

Prime Minister Holness has been stepping up his political appearances as he gets ready to announce the date of the next general election, which political pundits expect to be called this year but which is not constitutionally due till 2021.

But his administration’s record on corruption has come under question, with two ministers of government resigning in the past two years, their tenures marked by oversight breaches, malpractice, and allegations of fraud and cronyism.

The 2019 index, released in January, showed Jamaica scoring 43, one place lower than the 44 it scored in 2018, in a context where zero is deemed very corrupt and 100 is very clean.

With a score of 43, the country’s ranking has dipped sharply from 70 to 74 out of 180 countries.

Holness, who was on the hustings at the Portmore HEART Academy in St Catherine South East yesterday, said that those who wished to run on the party’s ticket must have clean hands.

“I have told everyone that this is not about having something on your résumé. This is not about having letters behind your name. This is not about having access to government or distributing government contracts. This is not about enriching yourself. This is about service to the people,” the JLP leader said as he shared the platform with Dr Andrew Wheatley, who was forced to resign as science, energy and technology minister amid a scandal at the state-owned Petrojam oil refinery.

culture of creeping arrogance

Holness inveighed against what he called a culture of creeping arrogance and warned that anyone who joined the party under his leadership should not allow their ego to land them in trouble.

“I have seen sometimes when people come to power or get close to power, ... they change their behaviour. You can’t talk to them, and all it is about is them and what they want and about their vision and their perspective, and they forget that the only reason why they are there is to serve the common good, the public good, to serve you, the people,” the prime minister said, hinting that voters would make them pay.

“They are very discerning, and they will see right through you.”

Holness told Labourites that now that the party was “doing well” in Government, there had been increased interest from persons wanting to represent it in different seats.

He said that there was a time when very few wanted to join the party to become candidates.

“Now, everybody want to come! But I am going to be very clear that to join the Jamaica Labour Party as a candidate, you must fulfil the highest standard of public expectation,” Holness said to much applause and bell-ringing from supporters.