Money drop: Kingston Central residents admit to vote buying
Donna Parchment Brown, the political ombudsman, has called on residents of Kingston Central who are aware of vote buying leading up to the general election on September 3, to lodge official reports with her office.
“Money drop”, was the chorus being sung on Monday when The Gleaner visited areas in the constituency such as Allman Town and Tel-Aviv, to find out the reasons behind residents, who over many decades have always voted for a People’s National Party (PNP) candidate, switching allegiance in 2020.
Scores of residents claimed that up to $15,000 was wrapped in T-shirts and given away by Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) personalities. The JLP’s Donovan Williams emerged victorious over the PNP’s Imani Duncan-Price.
The Gleaner attempted to contact Williams and Duncan-Price for comments on the vote-buying claims, but calls to their mobiles went unanswered.
Parchment Brown revealed on Monday that her office has not received any such reports and encouraged persons in the constituency with information to come forward. At the same time, she condemned the many reports of improper conduct across the island, which she said happened leading up to and on election day.
“I have received no reports yet for Central Kingston, but it would be good to get the particulars like who it was, when it happened, and did the person come in a motor car,” she said while encouraging persons to contact her directly at 876-280-3612 via WhatsApp message, or voice calls.
She continued: “The Office of the Political Ombudsman is concerned that there were far too many reports of improper actions during the campaign period. We are still open for complaints, so if you know something, please do not hesitate to contact me”.
However, when The Gleaner visited Allman Town on Monday, residents, even those who declared themselves to be JLP supporters, claimed that cash was being passed around. However, they noted that that should not be the focus of critics. They expressed disapproval of how the constituency was being run under the PNP, citing neglect, and said the people of Allman Town and other areas in Central Kingston took up the best offer.
Andre Dawkins, who told The Gleaner the he and his brother are the only persons in his family who support the JLP, said the people were tired of the same old story from the PNP, noting that their problems would be solved after the elections, then nothing materialises.
Andrew Henry said he was once a fully paid up member of the PNP, but switched allegiance and began endorsing the JLP candidate, Williams, because under the PNP, he claims there has been no development in Allman Town.
“The message I have been spreading to help Donovan Williams win, was that when you look at the constituency, there was a clinic on Arnold Road and a doctor’s office in Campbell Town, and we once could get prescriptions filled on Hitchen Street. All dem things run down under the watch of the PNP. We nuh have nothing. We affi a brave gunshot fi go through Race Course fi go a clinic. I was a PNP and I used to work with Ronnie Thwaites, but I can’t work with the same people who have been scraping everything for themselves and their families. When dem get tickets for farm work to give out, dem give it to [friends and family]. We had been talking to Ronnie Thwaites about it and him never usually listen. But the times come now when we say, enough is enough.”
One senior, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that anything of value that was ever distributed to the community was given to one set of people all the time.
“As a Labourite and I go to former MP Ronald Thwaites to say I need help, there are people around him who say no, you shouldn’t get it because you are not affiliated. They force him to neglect his own.”
In Tel-Aviv, a young woman who declined to share her name claimed a lot of the young people in the community received cash wrapped in T-shirts as encouragement to vote for the JLP. But as a diehard supporter of the PNP, she denounced vote buying and said all those who received money, may very well end up being neglected for disloyalty.
“Me vote PNP because me a ‘die-hearted’. Inna my yard, nobody a nuh Labourite, a pure PNP, so me couldn’t go vote fi Labourite, for $5,000 and $15,000. Di youth dem shouldn’t switch. A money cause it, and a dats why dem seh money is the root of all evil. Di Labourites dem done know seh di place is a PNP stronghold and if the people go vote fi Labourite because of money, you ago want me behind you? The man don’t want dem behind him.”