A Political Activist with close ties to the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is calling for it to follow the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and also engage in rebranding to bolster its chances in the upcoming general elections.
“You have to change the face, rebrand,” Kennedy Budhlall (KB) told a radio station in the north of the island last week Sunday.
Budhlall was speaking on reports coming out of the St. David’s NNP Constituency Branch that it is plagued with problems.
He said the big wigs in the party cannot just fold their arms and say let the process continue in that manner.
Almost two months ago, NDC engaged in a rebranding exercise by dropping the colour gold and adopting the three colours of the National Flag – green, red and gold.
In a frank and pointed attack on the Mitchell-led party, Budhlall said that NNP at present has no system in place to oversee the working of the Parliamentarians in the various constituencies to determine whether or not they are performing.
He charged that the MP’s only see the use of the party around the time of elections.
According to Budhlall, a lot of political work has to be done in St. David’s if the incumbent, Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph is to retain the constituency in the upcoming general election.
Joseph, a former civil servant and newcomer to frontline politics, won the seat in the 2013 poll, defeating another new entrant, Adrian “Persuader” Thomas who represented Congress.
Budhlall, a former army officer in the disbanded People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) claimed that Minister Joseph lacks the required support base around him to undertake the political work needed to hold onto the seat.
“The operatives under the Minister could cause the party to lose.
People don’t have to vex with NNP to leave NNP”, he said.
“If the man in charge of housing, every time he goes to visit a house he wants woman – would you think they (the people) staying with the party for that?” he retorted.
According to Budhlall, there are several negative things that the operatives will do and the blame will fall on the Party, Prime Minister and the MP.
The Political Activist believes the time has come for the ruling party to start grooming the younger members of the party to take over leadership duties.
“NNP now should have their own party school to train political activists… You have to invest now in the young people. NNP must invest in young political activists to replace those ageing ones,” he said.
He believes that in order to correct the problem affecting the NNP Branch in St. David’s, that Prime Minister Mitchell who is the Political Leader of the party should hold a retreat as too much negatives are coming from the St. David’s constituency.
Stating that Joseph is new “to the game” of politics and will take time to “gel”, Budhlall claimed that workers associated with the Minister’s political camp in St. David’s are fighting among themselves, “and we have to be careful.”
He also alluded to the fact that supporters leave a political party for various reasons.
“Call a retreat, we have enough time. Call it while there are good human beings, you have enough time, and to weed out all those who (are) giving trouble, all those who are liability,” he said.
Budhlall also advocated that the time has come for certain changes to be made to the rules of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to allow professionals to participate in the democratic process while still serving in the Service.
However, in recent years a few civil servants have resigned their positions to contest general elections and return in later years to serve the public.
The most notable is policeman, Carl Caton who was appointed as a Senator by Dr. Mitchell just before the 2008 election to contest the St. Patrick East seat but was defeated by former Congress leader, Tillman Thomas.
After being in the wilderness for years, Caton was allowed to re-enlist as a policeman when the NNP won the 2013 general election.