Waite says Phillips is a man of vision, integrity

BY GARFIELD MYERS
Editor at Large, South Central Bureau
myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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BRAES RIVER, St Elizabeth —It was mostly about his own formal, public installation as People's National Party (PNP) candidate for St Elizabeth North Eastern (NE).

However, Basil Waite also used the occasion of Sunday night's mass meeting in Braes River to heap praise on PNP President Peter Phillips who is being challenged for leadership by his former Cabinet colleague Peter Bunting.

“Comrades he (Phillips) has been working to rebuild the organisation (PNP),” Waite told the large, enthusiastic crowd at the Peace Club in Braes River.

“The organisation needs rebuilding — a nuh hype win politics; political organisation win politics...,” said Waite, whose reputation as a political organiser at grass-roots level is well established.

“My party leader is a man of vision, a man of integrity... is a man who believes in people, is a man who has performed for the people of Jamaica over and over again,” said Waite.

He also expressed personal gratitude to Phillips, suggesting that he helped to facilitate his return to the officer core of the PNP and ultimately to his current position as candidate, following a fall from grace in the build-up to the December 2011 election.

Back in 2010, the ever popular Waite, then an Opposition senator, easily won the support of PNP delegates to be their flag-bearer in St Elizabeth North Eastern ahead of Wentworth Skeffery.

But in the build-up to the elections late the next year he was dropped by the party for reasons that were never explained. Raymond Pryce “parachuted” in just before the election, won the St Elizabeth NE seat in 2011 by more than 4,000 votes, as the PNP gained a nationwide landslide victory.

Pryce was subsequently displaced by current Member of Parliament (MP) Evon Redman. Last May a resurgent Waite was again selected by delegates as the PNP's flag-bearer ahead of councillor for the Balaclava Division, Everton Fisher. This, after Redman formally informed his party he will not be seeking a second term as MP.

Waite is expected to contest the next election in St Elizabeth NE against the ruling Jamaica Labour Party's Delroy Slowley, a Santa Cruz businessman who contested in February 2016 as an independent.

On Sunday night in Braes River, Phillips, whose contest with Bunting will be decided in September, formally introduced Waite to party supporters in St Elizabeth NE as “a Comrade in whom we are all well pleased ... one of a group of young candidates who have taken up the reins of leadership” in the party.

Phillips voiced pleasure at the absence of rancour in candidate selection since he took over leadership of the party, two years ago.

“All of them (candidates) have been selected without no conflict, without no cass cass, without no shirt burning,” because the PNP has operated true to its principles and traditions, he said.

The PNP president had special praise for Fisher, saying he was “proud” of how the latter, having lost to Waite in 2018, had earlier come forward to endorse Waite's leadership of the constituency.

He described Waite as one who understood what he was about as candidate for a “progressive party that is proud of its philosophy and its roots in democratic socialism”.

Phillips said the PNP's philosophy was based on the principle of equality of opportunity for all; that Jamaica “should not be divided into first class and second class citizens”.

Others endorsing Waite at the Braes River meeting included Fisher, Senator Floyd Morris, Skeffery, Members of Parliament Dayton Campbell, Phillip Paulwell, Lisa Hanna, Natalie Neita Headley and representatives of the youth and women's movement.

There were discordant notes as well. In his absence-because of family commitments, a message from Redman which was read to the crowd by Region Five chairman Hopeton McCatty was met with derisive shouts of “no”.

Also, Waite's brother Councillor Mugabe Kilimanjaro (PNP-Ipswich Division), stirred unease on the platform and among the crowd by insisting that Waite had been “sabotaged” by elements within the PNP over a period of many years.

In pledging to serve St Elizabeth North Eastern to the best of his ability, Waite while reminding the large crowd that he was not yet the MP, pledged to work closely with Redman and the constituency executive to get a number of projects done.

He identified water distribution, agriculture, and agro-processing, infrastructure, technological development, education, and employment as being highest on his list of priorities.

Plans were in place for HEART training facilities and a business processing outsourcing centre in the constituency in the near future, Waite said.


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