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Thursday, June 30, 2022

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Beaches and Park Report is a Political Distraction. Where’s the Transparency in the Carnival Debacle?

An exuberant Press Secretary Clint Watson was at it again on Friday, allegedly releasing, “jaw-dropping” details on reported irregularities that took place in the Public Parks and Beaches Authority.

In his teaser, Watson said, the audit report was “so jaw-dropping, that we decided to immediately release the full report so that the Bahamian people can see for themselves how their money has been spent,” under the former administration.

This is one day after the government again denied the application for the operation of the Christmas Carnival on Fort Charlotte. It denied having anything to do with allowing the rides in the country at a time when the country is fighting the pandemic, and permitting it to set up on the public park. Until Senator Maxine Seymour tabled a letter showing the granting of permission from the  Ministry of Finance to the PLP, to allow the carnival company to import equipment into the country.

Questions still remain as to the transactions. Details are still missing. The government has not yet admitted that its party gave the permission. We still don’t know what protocols the Carnival company did not meet, yet they were approved to enter the country.

Where is the transparency on the carnival issue which later became a debacle because the public was not given a direct answer on its dealings?

Instead of releasing the “jaw-dropping” details on that, the government decides to release “jaw-dropping” reports of “problems and irregularities” under the former administration.

It is a clear attempt to conceal their dealings, not address the pertinent issue at hand and change the conversation, hoping the public forgets.

 

 

A New Day: Watson to Take His Turn at the Podium

Clint Watson, Prime Minister Philip Davis’ new press secretary will seek to begin with a clean slate on Wednesday as he addresses members of the media on governmental affairs for the first time, since imposing stringent rules for the media in his appointed position.

The Office of the Prime Minister posted a reminder of the press briefing on its social media page. Watson will address the media in a live briefing at 11 am.

This comes after Watson caused dissatisfaction among members of the media when he sought to implement restrictive guidelines for the press as the newly appointed press secretary.

Among other things, the new rules stated that only accredited journalists and staff will be permitted into Cabinet and OPM briefings; accreditation forms should be filled out by media houses and submitted to the Office of the Press Secretary for approval; a press officer will indicate the final question toward the end of the briefing and no further questions will be asked thereafter; and reporters requesting specific responses to issues should communicate with the Press Secretary Office by 6 pm the latest, before the briefing.

When criticized by the media, Watson sought to explain the rules and accused the press of “manufacturing a controversy.”

Watson is a former journalist and news director and is now the new government’s mouthpiece, providing updates on the government’s activities.

Social media users have been critical of Watson in his new role.

   

The position of press secretary is an American tradition and would make the second time that a government attempted the use of a press secretary. The Free National Movement was unsuccessful in its attempt.

It remains to see how much of the new rules Watson will implement and how the media will receive him in this position.

 

Minnis Sworn in as Opposition Leader

Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was officially sworn in on Friday as Leader of the Opposition.

When Parliament meets, Minnis will be joined by other opposition members including St. Anne’s MP Adrian White, Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson and Marco City MP Michael Pintard, Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis, and St Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright.

Following swearing-in ceremony, Minnis said he hopes the government continue with plans to recruit young Bahamians for further education abroad for leadership positions in government entities. Minnis said he will hold the government accountable.

The big picture

Following last week’s General Election, the Minnis led adminstration lost, only winning 7 out of the 39 seats, after battling the fallouts of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Progressive Liberal Party led by former opposition leader, Philip Davis won the 32 seats.

Why it matters

Since the defeat of the Free National Movement, council members met to determine the future leadership of the party. After a vote, the party decided to keep Minnis as leader until November when a convention is held. A new leader will be picked to lead the party forward. Minnis said he will not contest the leadership post.

 

Meet Davis’ Remaining Cabinet Members

Eleven cabinet ministers were sworn in on Wednesday, totalling 21 Cabinet members to be a part of Prime Minister Philip Davis’ administration.

  • Obie Wilchcombe: Social Services and Urban Development
  • Keith Bell: Labor and Immigration
  • Vaughn Miller: Environment and Natural Resources
  • Jobeth Colby-Davis: Transport and Housing
  • Ginger Moxey: Grand Bahama
  • Mario Moxey: Youth, Sports and Culture
  • Basil McIntosh: State for the Environment
  • Myles Laroda: State in the Office of the Prime Minister
  • Pia Glover: State for Public Service
  • Lisa Rahming: State for Social Services
  • Zane Lightbourne: State for Education and Technical and Vocational Training

 

Meet Davis’ Cabinet Members

Eight members of the Cabinet were sworn in on Monday afternoon to serve as ministers in the Davis-led administration.

Prime Minister Philip Davis said they will “deliver the party’s promise of a new day.”

  1. Fred Mitchell–Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is an outspoken member of the PLP and was party chairman. He served in the Perry Christie administration in the same position in 2012. When the PLP lost in 2017, he lost his seat but was appointed PLP senator.
  2. Glennys Hanna-Martin–Minister of Education and Vocational Training. She has been a longtime member of the PLP, having served in the Christie administration in 2012 as Minister of Transport and Aviation. The party lost in 2017, but she retained her seat and was one of four PLPs who returned to the Parliament as the opposition.
  3. Michael Darville–Minister of Health. He was the MP for Pineridge and Minister of Grand Bahama in 2012 in the Christie administration. When his party lost, he became a PLP senator.
  4. Michael Halkitis–Minister of Economic Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate. He lost to the FNM in the 2021 election. He served in the Christie administration as the Minister of State for Finance in 2012.
  5. Clay Sweeting–Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs. He ran against FNM MP Ricky Martin in 2017 and lost. The fisherman was then appointed a PLP senator in the Upper Chamber.
  6. Alfred Sears–Minister of Works and Utilities. He was the Member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte from 2000 to 2012 and served in the Christie administration. He lost his seat to the FNM in 2017. He once served as Minister of Education and as Attorney General in the Christie administration.
  7. Wayne Munroe–Minister of National Security. He is a prominent lawyer. He ran in 2017 for the PLP but lost to the FNM. He was also a former DNA member.
  8. Jomo Campbell–Minister of State for Legal Affairs. He is new to politics and is believed to be a lawyer in Wayne Munroe’s office.

Davis said his Cabinet “will move with urgency, that this moment requires.”

Governor-General C.A Smith asked that the country “set aside differences until next five years.” He added, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Let’s unite and together make a better Bahamas.”

Davis Beats Minnis to Capture the House in Early Election

Philip Davis will capture the Parliament and reign as prime minister after victory at the polls over FNM Leader Hubert Minnis.

Davis won by a big margin capturing a majority of the seats in an early election.

A delighted Davis took to social media to express delight. “Thank you Bahamas. Your support means so much to me. It is a new day. God bless the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”

Minnis has conceded to Davis and offered best wishes to him. He thanked the Bahamians who supported him while congratulating the FNM candidates who won their seats.

Minnis won his seat for Killarney and will lead the Opposition in the House of Assembly.

As of 9:30 pm, Kwasi Thompson, Shanendon Cartwright, Andrian Gibson, Michael Pintard, Iram Lewis and Adrian White of the FNM survived and will be a part of the opposition.

Davis will have to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccination rollout, boost the economy and revive the healthcare system.

Davis was a part of the Christie administration that was voted out in 2017, which was heavily hit with scandals.

Minnis’ reign as prime minister was criticized for its handling of the Oban deal, Dorian and its aftermath, and the Emergency Orders which caused the closure of businesses.

Amidst the pandemic, Davis staged virtual rallies preaching that his government will usher in transparency, equality and prosperity.

Public Reacts to DJ Khaled Shoutout to Davis Ahead of General Election

DJ Khaled’s shoutout to Opposition Leader Philip Davis ahead of the General Election is met with mixed reactions from the Bahamian public.

DJ Khaled Instagram post of Opposition Leader Philip Davis

On Tuesday, the famous American artist and producer posted a picture of Davis on Instagram, stating, “Bless up to PLP and Brave Davis.”

The post received nearly 18,000 views by Tuesday afternoon.

Some posters were surprised at the shoutout.

One poster, _cloud3 said, “Brave money long,” while another, Khadijahrahming said, “…Brave can’t be this desperate.”

Lov3_doll asked, “Which island he promised you?”

Briismk questioned, “What is going on here?”

“Do you even know the information and the credibility behind this man?” Shellz_mac questioned.

Others were in support of the post.

Okayjaydee said, “I know das right.”

“You’re the best,” said Bouche_doux.

Mmg_martin said, “Even the dog says to vote PLP.”

Some posters expressed their support for the incumbent Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.

Rashead_serenity like many others said, “We [are] still rocking with Doc Minnis.”

Khaled is considered a “hype man” who unites the older generation of hip-hop with teens and young adults.

‘Growing Pains’ at the Advance Polls

As voters cast their ballots at the advance polls on Thursday, many news agencies have characterized the process as ‘not smooth.’

   

Voters turned out in large numbers at polling stations, standing in long lines and complaining of the wait time.

Sporadic crowds were seen at some stations as the COVID-19 Task Force sought to ensure order to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Former PM Hubert Ingraham said he nor his wife’s name was on the list for the advance poll.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham left the polling station frustrated after he complained that his name was not listed at either of the two polling divisions he attended.

He later returned and was allowed to vote after an apology by Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson.

But Minister of National Security Marvin Dames with responsibility for the Parliamentary Registration Department said he is “not surprise” at the complaints and agitation by some voters due to the increased number of voters including the elderly, allowed to vote at the advance polls.

Senior citizens are allowed to vote early to prevent exposure to the virus and long waits on lines on Election Day.

Dames said, “We would have recently had amendments to the Act. In 2017, we had a central area where advance poll voters were allowed to come and vote. That was when we had some 3,000 voters.  This is like a mini election. We have 30,000 voters.

“You’re going to have your growing pains. This is the first time we are doing this. The growing pains are not significant to really impact people’s right to vote. People are being allowed to exercise their right to vote,” Dames said.

He said his team will “continue to forge forward” and debrief to ensure a smoother running on September 16.

Roberts Threatens to Reveal Damning Details on Bain if Pushed

Former Coalition of Independents member Wellington Roberts said he would reveal damning details about the party if members persist in criticizing his decision to leave and support the Progressive Liberal Party.

“I ain’t tell the full story. If I tell the full story, the wall of Jericho will come crumbling down,” Roberts warned.

When Roberts initially resigned from the COI, he cited health, safety, and financial concerns after receiving the nomination to run for the party in the North Andros and the Berry Island constituency.

However, on Monday, Roberts insisted there were other reasons why he left the party, “that I would not mention at this time.”

Since the move to leave the party, Roberts has received backlash on social media with many calling him a “traitor.”

Roberts said on Monday during a social media live, “I ain’t tell the full story yet. I am begging you and your organization to leave me alone. The slick jeers, the slick comments…you’ll leave me alone.”

He spoke directly to Bain, “Talk to them, because you’ll control them. They are you’ll ‘blackanites,’ ‘COInites,’ ‘Lincolnites.’ Talk to them. Leave me alone. Let sleeping dogs lie. I ain’t tell the full story.”

Why it matters

Roberts was considered an influential member of the third-party COI before his resignation. He garnered a large number of social media followings as he worked with Bain to expose “corruption” that they said are in the governing party and the PLP.

On the day of his resignation, he was seen dressed in a PLP shirt standing with Opposition Leader Philip Davis, while campaigning for the party.

Roberts said he now supports the PLP’s candidate for the North Andros and the Berry Islands Leonardo Lighbourne

COI Candidate Charged with Inciting Riot and Disorderly Behaviour, Jumped on PLP Bandwagon

The North Andros candidate for the  Coalition of Independence Wellington Roberts dropped his bid for election and jumped ship to join the Progressive Liberal Party.

In a viral post, 36-year-old Roberts is seen dressed in PLP attire while campaigning with the opposition party.

Roberts is a self-proclaimed comedian and a known critic of the Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party and has spoken publicly against the two major political parties.

He jumped to social media fame during a protest Down Town when furloughed Atlantis workers demonstrated for severance pay. Roberts was arrested for inciting unrest and disorderly behavior.

His decision to join forces with the PLP has provoked a response from the COI who confirmed the resignation of Roberts.

“Many people are weak and will sell out their nation for a bowl of porridge,” the party said.

The COI led by Lincoln Bain, is a newly formed party that has branded itself as an advocate of the country’s natural resources, and said, despite Roberts’ resignation, the party will “remain committed to standing with and for Bahamians who are dissatisfied with the state this country is in.”

However, Roberts has since released a short statement on social media claiming his decision was  made “in the best interest of myself, family and country.”

Roberts was in court on Tuesday for trial and maintained a not guilty plea to the charges levied against him. Magistrate Samuel McKinney is set to make a ruling on the matter next month.

(Roberts is seen on the right in featured photo)