Thu | Sep 24, 2020

Discontent as minor parties mull over merger

Published:Wednesday | August 12, 2020 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter

Leaders of three of Jamaica’s minor political parties have held talks to explore the possibility of a merger, but a clash of ideologies has stalled those negotiations.

President of the Marcus Garvey People’s Political Party (MGPPP), Heru Menelik, has confirmed that talks have been ongoing with the leaders of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and the United Independents’ Congress (UIC) to see if they could forge an alliance.

“What we would love is a coalition, where we could actually not overlap on certain seats,” said Menelik.

The MGPPP secured the third-highest number of votes in the 2016 general election and currently has 31 candidates while the NDM is considered Jamaica’s most prominent third party. The UIC is, however, the only party of the three that is currently registered to contest the next general election.

Apart from having differing ideologies, Menelik says that the groups have not been able to find consensus on a common name.

“You know, some people are very fussy about name. I am not fussy about it, but a lot of the membership would want the other two to come under our umbrella,” said Menelik, whose MGPPP has more than 600 members and won 260 votes in 2016.

Chairman of the NDM, Michael Williams, says that while there have been talks with the leaders of other political parties, including the MGPPP, no consideration is being given to a merger at this time.

“There were some informal discussions that I had and also the president had, but nothing formal has been arranged or adopted up to now,” Williams said.

“We wouldn’t consider a merger. The NDM policies are very well known, and we are very strict with our policies,” he added.

Williams told The Gleaner in June that the NDM would not contest the next general election as the party was just emerging from a coma.

President of the UIC, Joseph Patterson, says that his party has been approached to consider a possible merger but has not given any commitment to this suggestion.

“We have not turned away from other parties who have come and enquired of us, so we have taken the enquiries, and we have considered them,” he said.

“As of today, this minute, we have not formed any alliances with any political party and have not found any with which we have common ground at the moment,” he told The Gleaner.

Patterson said that his party is “as ready as can be” to contest the September 3 general election, but funding, he conceded, was still a major issue.

“We are grass-roots oriented, so our funding comes directly from ordinary Jamaicans home and abroad,” he explained.

He said that the party has already confirmed two candidates and is in the process of confirming another two to contest the election.

“It has been a very difficult process for us because our candidates have to be truly committed to the principles and philosophies and best practices of good governance, so it can’t be any and anybody,” he said.

Meanwhile, Menelik said that his party would be having an emergency meeting on Thursday as they are desirous of getting registered to contest the upcoming general election. He said that they have already secured the 500 signatures needed to present to the Electoral Office of Jamaica.

The MGPPP president said that the party would focus on the reduction of crime, the regularisation of squatters, and the disparity in incomes.

“Most of our companies are top-heavy, where the executive of the company takes home 70 per cent of the pay and the other 90 per cent [of workers] only share 30 per cent of the income,” Menelik asserted.

“We would carry out what we call a scientific job evaluation, and just as how the Government has legislated a minimum wage, we would legislate a maximum wage,” he said.