An ‘invisible hand’ was at work during the elections for the post of Chairperson of the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR). That hand dictated the outcome of the election for the post of Chairperson and Vice Chairpersons of the party.
The contest for Chairperson was seen as a two-way race between the two male contenders, Basil Williams and Joseph Harmon. Both were front-runners for the post. They ended up losing to someone who was not given much hope of a victory.
Joseph Harmon was seen as an obvious shoo- in. He is, after all, the second most powerful person within the government and given the PNCR’s political culture, it was hardly unlikely that the party would have bypassed such a powerful person in favour of the other two candidates.
But the Congress did. The ‘invisible hand’ was influential in depriving Harmon and his team of a victory.
This was a clear case of history repeating itself. It is not the first time that this has happened. In prior years, when Vincent Alexander and later Aubrey Norton challenged for leadership, the ‘invisible hand’ had intervened. There were serious concerns in both of those elections about the integrity of the delegates’ list.
There was no vote–rigging this time around. What prevented Joseph Harmon from being elected Chairman was not the manipulation of the vote, but influence-peddling. The results suggest that the old guard was behind the ‘invisible hand’ which did the influencing. The old guard decided who they wanted as part of the succession plan of the party and they used their influence to ensure that they got the votes they needed for this outcome.
There is no changing of the guard within the PNCR. There is no new guard. The old guard still reigns supreme. The final outcome of the Central Executive will test this position.
The motivation for the ‘invisible hand’ was fear that the party was being militarized. The old guard was determined to ensure that the party did not fall capture to the new military elite which had penetrated the party. The ‘invisible hand’ was there to prevent the party from falling into the hands of certain persons whom the old guard had serious problems with.
Confirmation that an ‘invisible hand’ was at work in the elections was evident by the election of the Vice Chairpersons of the party. The old guard ensured that George Norton was reelected as Vice Chairperson. The invisible hand also had a hand in the election of Annette Ferguson.
The signs, therefore, are that the old guard is attempting to wrest the party from possible domination from the military elite which had gained a stranglehold within the party and which had been responsible for managing and directing APNU’s campaigns in 2015.
The old guard has decided that this cannot go further and that the party cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. There were newcomers who believed that their positions in government would have allowed them influence within the party. But this did not happen and, as is now obvious, their efforts floundered.
The old guard still has great influence over the delegates and they used this influence to ensure that certain persons would not be elected. This was an election about the closing of ranks by the old guard who determined that they needed to secure certain positions in the executive of the party.
They succeeded in having George Norton reelected and in blocking the election of Aubrey Norton who was part of the Harmon team. Annette Ferguson’s election had nothing to do with youth. She was seen as the best option to prevent Norton from being elected.
The young people of the party have nothing to celebrate. The old guard still runs things within the PNCR.
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