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Keeping the PNP machinery humming - Regional bodies given more responsibilities

Published:Sunday | September 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Peter Bunting

Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor

The roles of government minister, general secretary, member of parliament and representative on the Election Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) could individually be full-time jobs for any one person.

But for the People's National Party (PNP), it is not unusual for one person to be asked to straddle all four roles as Maxine Henry-Wilson and others have done in the past.

This time around, it is Peter Bunting who has been given the task, and it is one the former investment banker believes he is well equipped to handle.

"It is, in a sense, an accustomed role as I was opposition spokesman on national security since October 2008 and it has always been very challenging to juggle the responsibilities," said Bunting, who is the national security minister and member of parliament for Central Manchester.


"The key is to have good teams in all areas to support you. You also have to be very disciplined, be able to delegate, and you have to be able to work long hours," Bunting told The Sunday Gleaner in a recent interview.

"I work all days, both days of the weekend and typically I go from 7:30 in the morning and often till 10 at nights. It is something that you can manage but you pay a price," added Bunting.

According to Bunting, as general secretary, he leads a secretariat that relies less and less on the officers of the party, who have to carry out the work of the Government.

This is to address the regular problem for political parties in the region where the party's structure and organisation struggles while it forms the Government.

According to Bunting, for the past three or so years, the PNP has been transitioning into an entity that relies more on the regional bodies to do the political organising.

"It was something that was resisted initially because we used to have regional organisers employed to the secretariat, but truthfully, we just could not afford it. So we put the responsibility down for the organising of the constituencies and the divisions to the regional organisations.

"We put a lot more responsibility on the shoulders of the regional chairmen and their management teams … . They stepped up to the plate and I think the results we saw in the last two national elections reflect, to a great extent, that shift in emphasis."


The PNP has divided the country into six regions, with Region One covering the parishes of Trelawny and St Ann; Region Two covers St Mary, Portland and St Thomas; while Region Three comprises Kingston and St Andrew.

The others are Region Four, which covers St Catherine and Clarendon; Region Five, Manchester and St Elizabeth; and Region Six, which comprises Westmoreland, Hanover and St James.

According to Bunting, the PNP now runs a secretariat which is primarily mandated to provide strategic direction to the party, set the agenda for each political year and monitor the performance of the various party structures and organs.

"So that now many of our NECs (National Executive Council) meetings are primarily for reporting so that the regions and the affiliates can come to the party and present ... progress reports."