North Eleuthera MP Sylvanus Petty remained mum when news circulated that he would be fired after he revealed in a court case that his daughter was granted a maintenance contract with the Water and Sewage Corporation where he served as executive chairman.
However, when the Office of the Prime Minister accepted the resignation at the request of Prime Minister Philip Davis, Petty took to social media. “Thank you all for the tremendous amount of support, the calls, texts, messages and most importantly the prayers.
“It is much appreciated.”
Prior, local dailies reported he was unreachable for comment and may have turned off his phone over the last few days. Now, this recent posting on social media may be an indication he is ready to talk.
Since he took the stand on Monday to testify in the Adrian Gibson court case, Gibson’s lawyer Damian Gomez KC hit him with a cross-examination, asking an unexpected question about a contract granted to his daughter, to which Petty said, “None of my family ever came to the board for a contract for us to vote on.”
Gomez then revealed that his daughter Sylatheia Gierszewsk was granted a contract of $26,000 for her company Mainscape Maintenance, which never came to the board’s attention.
Petty responded, “They are of smaller value. They don’t come to the board.”
Petty then doubled down that he does not frown upon nepotism because “everyone in the Bahamas was family.”
The Free National Movement Chairman Duane Sands then called for his resignation, prompting Davis to respond, who said he would review the claims. Days later Davis then requested a resignation letter from Petty.
On Wednesday, he posted to Facebook, a scripture verse from Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”
Others responded, “Be encouraged Syl (his nickname.) No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
Another supporter Jerome Deleveaux added, “Fret not thyself of evildoers, my friend.”
The two ministers in Prime Minister Philip Davis’ cabinet facing controversy and challenges in their ministries, prompting the Opposition’s call for resignation, have been swapped in a recent reshuffle.
Keith Bell is no longer the Minister of Immigration but have been sent to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. This comes on the heel of an “unorthodox” move of granting citizenship to three people at a funeral. And in a leaked letter, senior immigration officer in the Ministry of Immigration expressed a lack of confidence in him following the order to release 60 Chinese immigrants working on a construction site who were found to have irregularities with their documents.
In Sunday’s national address, Davis praised him for his leadership skills and experience in the Ministry of Immigration.
Davis then assigned Alfred Sears to the Ministry of Immigration and National Insurance, the post Bell held.
Sears who served as Minister of Works with responsibility for Bahamas Power and Light, was accused of misleading the House of Assembly and rejecting a plan that could have saved Bahamians $100 million on electricity bills.
Opposition leader Michael Pintard also charged that Sears and Davis were aware of the consequences of not executing the fuel hedging trades that would have kept BPL’s fuel charge low. Sears denied receiving or seeing any recommendations to continue the hedging programme and blamed the Ministry of Finance for the decision.
Eventually, Sears admitted inadvertently that he had seen the plan after initially claiming he knew nothing about it.
Typically, a reshuffle happens when a prime minister’s popularity decreases and when Cabinet ministers act out of order and drifts away from the prime minister’s agenda. Davis, though, defended the two ministers’ actions.
It is Davis’ responsibility to replace low preforming ministers in high priority portfolios.
Though swapping ministerial posts is not abnormal, it is an opportunity to reshuffle post-election.
As was expected after Prime Minister Philip Davis prorogued the House of Assembly last month, he announced a major reshuffle of his cabinet on Sunday evening, less than two years after taking office.
The changes affect a few ministers and several state portfolios, and are aimed at improving the performance and efficiency of the government as it faces multiple challenges.
According to Davis, the reshuffle was based on consultations with his ministers and an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. Davis said he wanted to ensure that each minister was in a position to best serve the country.
Here are some of the notable changes:
– Jomo Campbell who was serving as Minister of State for Legal Affairs, will become the new Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources. He will replace Clay Sweeting, who will take over the Ministry of Works and Family Island Affairs from Alfred Sears.
– Alfred Sears will move to the Ministry of Immigration and National Insurance, where he will succeed Keith Bell. Davis praised Bell’s leadership and said he will now head the Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal, which was previously under JoBeth Coleby-Davis.
– JoBeth Coleby-Davis will become the new Minister of Energy and Transport. Coleby-Davis will also oversee the newly created portfolio of Minister of State for Aviation, which will be held by Basil McIntosh.
– Pia Glover-Rolle, who was hailed as a “bright star” by the Prime Minister for her role as Minister of State for Public Service, will be promoted to Minister of Labour and Public Service. She will take over Labour from Keith Bell.
–Zane Lightbourne will become Minister of State for the Environment.
– Davis also said there will be some changes in other ministerial portfolios, but he did not provide any details. He said he will announce them later.
Why the shuffle?
Davis’ timing on reshuffling his Cabinet comes after he suddenly prorogued the House of Assembly on August 14. Political observers then highly anticipated that he would reshuffle the Cabinet during this time.
The Opposition, weeks before the prorogation, called for the resignation of Immigration Minister Keith Bell and Works Minister Alfred Gray who were ensnared in controversies in their perspective ministries. Though Davis has not publicly announced his reasoning for the reshuffling, he noted that it is “my halfway point before we move into what I call election mode.”
Typically, a reshuffle happens when a prime minister’s popularity decreases and when Cabinet ministers act out of order and drifts away from the prime minister’s agenda. Though it is not abnormal, it is an opportunity to reshuffle post-election.
It is his responsibility to replace low preforming ministers in high priority portfolios.
What the Opposition says?
Opposition Leader Micheal Pintard called the reshuffle “lackluster” and and indication that Davis knows his government’s popularity is decreasing with the public.
“The names attached to the government plate may be different, but little has changed.”
When the House was prorogued, questions tabled by the Opposition in regard to Keith Bell’s dealings in his ministerial portfolio and government’s procurement act remained unanswered.
“When these ministers finally return to work, there will still be over one hundred unanswered questions on the desk from the Opposition,” Pintard reminded them.
Prime Minister Philip Davis is facing accusations that his unexpected decision to prorogue the House on Saturday is an attempt to cover up the controversies and inadequacies in his government.
On Saturday the Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander read the proclamation in a surprise ending of the current parliamentary session.
Though the government boasts of ending its legislative session claiming to pass over one hundred bills, Free National Movement Opposition Leader Michael Pintard said 199 questions tabled by the Opposition, remain unanswered.
He believes the Davis administration is attempting to evade accountability.
“We believe that we witness a desperate and a feeble attempt by the Davis-Cooper administration to escape the undeniable truth that they are failing the Bahamian people despite benefiting from the rebounding world economy, pent-up demand, and business returning to the pre-pandemic levels,” he said at a press conference on Sunday.
“We also find it astonishing for the government to embark on a two-month hiatus from parliamentary activities precisely when the nation faces dire challenges on multiple fronts. They reek of negligence and indifference.”
This comes amid rape and assault charges against North Abaco MP Kirk Cornish and Immigration Minister Keith Bell’s scandal in the issuance of citizenships in “unorthodox” moves and with failure to follow the law.
The timing of prorogation is questionable.
Former House clerk Maurice Tynes questioned why Davis did not seek to publicize his decision to prorogue the House.
“We have to demystify this issue of prorogation,” he said.
“It’s not supposed to be so mysterious and private. Governments are supposed to let Parliament know in six weeks, we’re going to end our legislative agenda. It isn’t supposed to be a secret. In Britain, they prorogue, I think, every September. Everyone knows it’s coming. People like to keep things close to their chest when it ought not to be that way.”
The spotlight was on Parliament on Saturday as Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander read a proclamation from the Governor-General on the advice of Prime Minister Philip Davis, proroguing Parliament until October 4—a move that would kill all tabled questions and unfinished business, and expire all legislation.
The move comes two days after North Abaco MP Kirk Cornish was charged with five counts of rape, assault, and threats of death against a former girlfriend; and the Opposition continues to question Immigration Minister Keith Bell over his issuance of citizenship without due process.
Calls for Cornish and Bell’s resignations have gone unanswered and Davis remains mum over the controversies.
What does it mean to prorogue Parliament?
Proroguing the government means all sessions have ended. The legislature is prorogued by the Governor General, on the advice of the prime minister.
The move kills all bills and no committees are allowed to sit during a prorogation.
Proroguing Parliament can be a standard practice often used by political leaders to cancel existing legislation sitting before the House and set a new government agenda. It can also be used by political leaders to strategically prevent certain businesses from happening.
Has it happened before?
It was used in August 2021 as Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called a snap election, amid a spat with House Speaker Halson Moultrie who attempted to hold an “open parliament” in the square, accusing Minnis and his Cabinet of “unconstitutionally” shutting down the Parliament for an “unprecedented period” of time.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham reportedly prorogued the House every two years and Former PM Perry Christie prorogued the House in 2006 to reshuffle his Cabinet.
In a spectacular show of events, the Bahamas celebrated 50 years of Independence from British rule. The road to 50 years started last year with a series of events that culminated on Sunday night at Clifford Park where dignitaries and thousands of Bahamians gathered in celebration.
The Prime Minister’s Legacy Ball on Saturday showcased glittering fashion and exuberant styles as world leaders like Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, US Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland chatted and sat around the dinner table.
Sunday night into Monday morning, uniformed officers marched the open field, dancers skipped and swayed to the rhythmic Bahamian music, and firecrackers lit the sky at the high-spirited service and celebration.
In a show of unity and celebration, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame was awarded the Order of Excellence Award, in recognition of his friendship with the Bahamas government and its people. Kagame, who is revered by some and hated by others, was among foreign dignitaries welcomed as the guest of honor at the Bahamas’ 50th Independence Celebrations.
After receiving his award from Governor General Cornelius Smith in the presence of Prime Minister Philip Davis, as thousands of Bahamians looked on, Kagame expressed gratitude for the “growing friendship” between the Bahamas and Rwanda.
“I thank you for the invitation to participate in this celebration. In doing so, I wish to underscore the importance that Rwanda attaches to fostering closer relations between our people,” he said.
This is intriguing since the Bahamas has little to no relation to Rwanda. It is increasingly interesting since Kagame, and US representative Maxine Waters were the only foreign dignitaries awarded the Order of Excellence Awards. It appears to show Davis’ increasing popularity with world leaders and his attempt to demonstrate to the Bahamian people, amidst the complaints, that his incessant world travels have paid off.
Though Kagame is hailed by some in the West as a visionary leader because he superficially promotes women’s equality, new technologies, and environmental protection measures, Human Rights Watch has accused him of restricting political opponents, suppressing media freedom, and murdering dissidents.
Who is President Paul Kagame?
President Paul Kagame is the head of state of the eastern African country Rwanda, holding the position for 20 years. As a rebel leader, he previously commanded the Rwandan Patriotic Front which is a Ugandan-based Tutsi militia, helping to end the 1994 Genocide– also known as the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda– where 1 million Rwandans mostly of the Tutsi minority, weren killed in 100 days, as the world looked on.
Some hailed him as the soldier who became a statesman and reformer, gaining international recognition as a champion of development.
What is President Paul Kagame’s leadership style?
Kagame has been known to rule with an iron fist, exiling and assassinating his critics.
Dissident David Himbara, a former insider who once served as a senior aide and economic adviser to Kagame before their relationship was severed, said, “He is a very aggressive person, uncontrolled and violent.”
Himbara is like many other former close confidants of Kagame who fell out with the leader and then fled to other countries to avoid political persecution. Himbara fled to Canada in 2013.
Patrick Karegeya was another dissident and former secret service agent who fled Rwanda in 2007 after being imprisoned twice by Kagame’s regime. He was found strangled to death in a hotel room in a well-planned attack in South Africa in 1994. Kagame denied the allegations, “Rwanda did not kill this person – and it’s a big ‘no’.”
However, unashamedly Kagame added, “But I add that, I actually wish Rwanda did it. I really wish it.”
And at a prayer breakfast in Rwanda, with local governmental ministers, Kagame said, “Whoever betrays the country will pay the price, I assure you. Any person still alive who may be plotting against Rwanda, whoever they are, will pay the price.”
“Whoever it is, it is a matter of time,” he declared.
Human Rights Watch’s Central Africa Director Lewis Mudge told the BBC, “Rwanda is a country where it’s very, very dangerous to oppose the government, let alone to be a political opponent… and this authoritarian system is going to be the system for the foreseeable future.”
Will President Kagame ever give up power?
Rwanda has no real opposition party and in May, Kagame indicated that he could serve as President until 2035.
Changes to the constitution permit him to extend his term in office until then, prompting international criticism and concerns from human rights groups.
In 2017, he won a third term as president with nearly 99 percent of the votes. More than 6.6 million votes were cast for him with a turnout of about 96 percent.
At 65, Kagame is showing no sign of retiring as he continues to build on his legacy as a hero and stern statesman.
For the governing party, former Press Secretary Clint Watson is a tool in its propaganda war.
As he transitions to general manager at the country’s national television broadcaster ZNS, it is hoped he will assert the political might of the PLP and expand its influence on the national airwaves.
When Watson was recruited from Eye Witness News after he vehemently lambasted the Minnis-led administration and pushed the PLP’s messaging in the run-up to the general election in 2021, he parroted the government’s perspective from the Office of the Prime Minister and he will do the same from his position as general manager of ZNS, hoping to attract thousands of Bahamians to a dying station as he promotes PLP’s virtues, deflects criticisms and advances the government’s talking points.
Expect the government’s propaganda tool to intensify in its campaign.
An anonymous source told the Tribune that Watson could assist in pushing the government’s message to the public after developing a close relationship with Prime Minister Philip Davis and his administration.
Minister of State with responsibility for ZNS Myles Laroda seemingly used a defense mechanism to deflect the appointment, saying, “I could confirm that, that decision was made by the Board of Directors,” he told the media on Tuesday after months of speculations.
“You know, the public will make up its mind when they see the product of ZNS. Clint Watson has worked at various agencies and I don’t think we’re gonna disqualify individuals because they work at OPM,” he said after reporters questioned Watson’s ability to be neutral.
The Progressive Liberal Party has taken a page out of an old propaganda playbook that uses recognizable faces with well-paid jobs to become propaganda spinners. This comes after the governing party depleted media houses of journalists and positioned them in government offices after it took control.
As the party seeks to hold onto power and aims to be re-elected in the 2026 General Election, it is increasingly concerned about its public image since public opinions are growing more hostile due to increased crime, booming migrations, and the high cost of living.
The PLP now realizes it needs to improve its media strategy, using ZNS, a crucial battleground, as its mouthpiece.
Watson’s success will be determined and graded by his ability to disseminate narratives that amplify the governing party’s propaganda and weaken the party’s competitor, the Free National Movement.
US Vice President Kamala Harris, while cohosting a meeting of CARICOM leaders, promised to help the region tackle gun trafficking, combat climate change and establish a Haiti transnational criminal investigative unit to assist the region’s most unstable nation, Haiti.
She committed $100 million in aide in the fight as the Biden adminstration aim to strenghten US-Caribbean relations.
Her visit was significant since she is the most influential US official to visit the Bahamas, since Independence. Prime Minister of the Bahamas Philip Davis is the chairman of CARICOM and cohosted the meeting with Harris.
Photo Credit: Office of the Prime Minister, Chandan Khanna, Andrew Holness Instagram, Nassau Guardian