Norton assures of “transparent and open” PNC Elections; Brushes aside concerns of former General Secretary

Norton assures of “transparent and open” PNC Elections; Brushes aside concerns of former General Secretary

One day after the sudden resignation of the General Secretary of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), Dawn Hastings-Williams, the Party is moving full steam ahead with the preparations for its 22nd Biennial Delegates Congress and Elections, with the incumbent Leader, Aubrey Norton promising “an open and transparent” election. 

In a shocking move coming days before the congress, Hastings-Williams tendered her resignation as General Secretary on Monday, citing a number of reasons, including lack of sufficient time to prepare for this weekend’s congress, concerns over the credibility of the party’s membership list heading into the election, lack of financial accountability and attempts to undermine her role as the General Secretary.

However, in an interview with News Source today, PNC Reform Leader, Aubrey Norton, who is seeking re-election, said the party had more than enough time to prepare for the Congress.

“We will be ready for Congress,” he assured, while adding that the necessary systems are being put in place to facilitate, “an open and transparent election.”

“I want to say to you, that, even at the elections, it will be transparent and open, and it will stand the scrutiny of anyone who is not bias. Of course, there will always be people who would say it wasn’t but any objective person, will see an open, transparent election. The votes, according to the returning officer, will be cast in the clear view of all, and they will be counted in the clear view of all,” the PNCR Leader said. 

In her letter of resignation, Ms. Hastings-Williams also said the issue of membership remains of grave concern, while explaining that following her appointment last year, she was informed that an external drive with all the information on the general membership was removed, and that the software on the computer had crashed. She said although the computer was eventually fixed in late April or early May, the computer’s CPU was removed from the department without her permission, and there are now allegations that the list is inconsistent with those held by party groups. 

But Norton maintains that the list is “credible.”

“The list will be credible. Each party group is entitled to check the list, they are doing that now, and to be clear as to how many delegates they have, all of that is being done, that is in the possession of groups, etc. So, I don’t think the credibility of the list would be in question,” he said. 

According to Mr. Norton, based on the membership list, approximately 1,200 delegates are expected to attend the Congress, including 30 delegates from the US, Canada and England. 

Another issue raised by Hastings-Williams was that of finance.

She complained that after more than a year in office, she was unable to present a single financial statement to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) because she was not allowed any access to the weekly or monthly income and expenditure statement. 

Norton and members of his team on their campaign trail

In January 2023, the party’s then Treasurer, Faaiz Mursalene, also resigned over concerns of financial accountability in the party. While brushing aside the concerns raise, Norton said all is well with the party’s finances, while dodging questions as to why the General Secretary did not have access to the party’s financial statements.

“There is no issue as it relates to accountability. Finances coming to the party, they go a bank account or to the finance people, and every spending has an invoice. We did an audit of some of the things recently, and at the end of this, we will have a complete audit of the party’s accounts. What we are not prepared to do is to put it in the public domain,” the PNCR Leader said. 

While recent developments within the party have raised more than just an eye brow, Norton, who is confident of a re-election, said notwithstanding the challenges, he is confident that the party’s base remains unified.   

According to him, since his election to office, the party has made tremendous progress.

“We lost votes in Region Six. We have functioning committees in all of Region Six. On the East Bank, in the last elections, we didn’t have functioning groups, we now have functioning groups on the East Bank. We didn’t have one group in Grove, we have three now. So, I don’t know what is meant by the party is falling apart,” Norton said. 

He said following this weekend’s congress and elections, the party will continue to mobilize as it prepares for the next General and Regional Elections. (Svetlana Marshall)

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