McKenzie rejoins PNP to level numbers amid WMC turmoil
COUNCILLOR LAWTON McKenzie of the Grange Hill division in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) has made an about turn to rejoin the opposition People's National Party (PNP) on Friday.
McKenzie, who resigned in a huff from the party in July, announced his return in an impromptu press conference, claiming that he had lost confidence in two of his former PNP colleagues, Ian Myles and Garfield James.
“I have come back home to the party that I have served for my entire adult life,” McKenzie said to resounding applause from his PNP colleagues.
“The resolution that was moved against the deputy mayor, Councillor Danree Delancy, I am immediately requesting that my name be withdrawn from that resolution, because I have lost confidence in Councillor Myles and Councillor James,” he said.
McKenzie had joined Myles and James in resigning from the PNP two months ago to sit as independent councillors. They then sided with the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors to pass a motion to remove Delancy from the post of deputy mayor of Savanna-la-Mar. Myles was then controversially installed as the successor, a move which is being challenged in the courts.
McKenzie’s return to the political party comes 24 hours after Deputy Mayor Myles and James crossed the floor to join the JLP during Thursday’s meeting of the WMC.
This has increased the PNP’s membership on the WMC to six, equalling that of the JLP. With a statistical challenge, the popular votes from the last local government elections will determine which party has the right to decide who becomes mayor and deputy mayor.
Leader of the PNP’s caucus at the WMC, Mayor Bertel Moore, who escaped being booted from the top job on Thursday, welcomed McKenzie’s return to the PNP – a move designed to help him secure his position, at least until the next local government elections.
“As a Comrade, I am very proud to see that my Comrade brother has decided to return to the People's National Party. He and I have been coming a long way,” a gleeful Moore said.
“I can understand that what had happened could have been a little misunderstanding but he (McKenzie) realised now that he wasn’t getting the facts from those two (Myles and James), who turned their backs on us,” Moore said.
Amid the wrestling for political control of the WMC, Moore said the party is not going down without a fight against his political opponents.
“We are prepared to fight together with all the Comrades in the parish to secure victory when the next local government elections come,” Moore insisted.
Myles told The Gleaner that McKenzie's move was expected, but the quest to take control of the WMC is not over.
“We saw it coming, and where we are going in terms of our next strategy, I am not able to divulge that at this time,” Myles, the Little London councillor, said.
However, he cautioned: “It doesn't matter whether it is six versus six; they (PNP) just need to read the Constitution and they will find out that they are still in the red.”
In the last local government election, the PNP won nine of the 14 seats at the WMC to the JLP’s five. However, two of those seats are now vacant following the resignation of the PNP’s Valdence Gifford in the Whitehouse division and George Wright, then a JLP councillor for the Petersfield division.