Wed | Oct 21, 2020

GOD SQUAD - Party full of pastors to challenge JLP, PNP

Published:Tuesday | June 23, 2020 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter

ALMOST 80 per cent of the candidates who have formed Jamaica’s newest political party are pastors, and the man behind the movement is confident that they will win the next general election.

The recently formed Jamaica Progressive Party (JPP) says it is self-funded and sufficiently cash-rich to campaign with the big boys.

Pastor Robert Rainford, authorised representative for the JPP, said it was divinely inspired.

Rainford said that the party was ramping up its campaign machinery and that Jamaicans would be seeing and hearing from its 54 prospective candidates as they visit communities come July. He declined to list the names of the pastors until a later date.

“We are very serious about listening to the voice of God and what God wants for this nation, and so we are clear of the mandate that we have to move Jamaica forward, to make Jamaica the place where God would be happy with this nation,” Rainford, the party’s prospective general secretary, told The Gleaner.

Rainford, a former government technocrat, said that the party has already secured more than the 500 signatures required by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica to be registered.

The president will be Apostle Gilbert Edwards, a medical technologist who currently resides in the United States, but will be relocating to Jamaica soon.

“He had a passion for Jamaica and what is happening here. He never considered himself in politics, but he was called by God to make this move to Jamaica to help with the transformation of Jamaica,” Rainford said of Edwards.

“When you look at what is happening to the society generally, we are in a mess, we are in a serious mess,” the clergyman lamented.

Third parties have always failed in their bid to win a seat, much less overthrow either of Jamaica’s two major political parties. Even independent candidates have won a few seats.

Rainford is optimistic that defeat will not be the destiny of the JPP.

“The difference, I believe with us, apart from the fact that we are divinely inspired to go this route, [is that] the Lord has provided us with the necessary resources to be able to not only be an effective party, but to be able to transform the fortunes of Jamaica,” he told The Gleaner yesterday.

“Right now, our party is self-funded. We don’t need financial support from anybody and people who are in the party are going to be paid. These are paid positions. The very person who hands out a flyer is going to be paid,” he said.

Rainford said the JPP’s full slate of candidates will be publicised soon. Canvassing by the party has indicated widespread disaffection with the ruling Jamaica Labour Party and the Opposition People’s National Party. Both political movements have shared power since universal adult suffrage in 1944.

“What we are encountering on the ground so far is that both PNP and JLP persons are saying, ‘Bwoy, we looking for something like this for a long time,’” said Rainford.

Rainford was terminated from his post as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government in 2013 after it emerged that he stood surety for then Cash Plus boss Carlos Hill. The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that he was wrongfully dismissed.

Rainford pastors in the United Church.

The next general election is constitutionally due by early 2021.

If sworn in as the next government, the JPP has four major planks: reducing the country’s debt, providing more housing solutions, encouraging stable families, and tackling crime. The party also wants a more livable wage for public servants like policemen, nurses, and teachers.

The party is also seeking to increase the number of boots in the constabulary to 30,000 and to promote community policing.

“We have to attack the crime situation that we have. We have to enforce the law,” said the clergyman.