Another protest: Teacher takes message directly to embattled PM Harris

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Heavy equipment owner Doyling demonstrating outside Government Headquarters

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, – As St. Kitts and Nevis and the world celebrated “World Teachers Day,” on Thursday, a teacher had a message for St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris.

Valencia Angelica Kelly did not send someone with it. She delivered it herself, verbally, albeit on Church Street just below the windows of the third floor office of Dr. Harris, the Team Unity leader.

“…the final thought I leave with you, If Unity is Unity there must be jobs for you and me. If Unity is really Unity there must be jobs, there must be advancement, there must be some sort of possibility for you and me; those who are not where they are supposed to be because of some victimisation, some lie or some persecution.

Let’s turn negatives into positives. If Unity is really Unity there must be jobs for you and for me. If Unity is really Unity, we must have jobs for everybody. My name is Valencia Kelly. I am a teacher and today is World Teachers Day,” said Kelly.

A video of her statement, though brief, is on social media and has been viewed and liked by thousands.

Kelly’s message rings loudly with thousands of people in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Her protest outside the Office of Prime Minister Harris was not the first for this year. There have been several demonstrations by persons protesting the award of contracts to family members of the Prime Minister, disgruntled taxi-men asking where is the “fair share” that was promised by Harris prior to the 2015 general election; the hiring of retired Jamaican Major General Stewart Saunders as national security adviser to Dr. Harris, knowing that he was involved in the Tivoli Gardens Massacre in which nearly 100 persons died in Jamaica in 2010 and a pastor who sleep for several nights on the sidewalk outside Government Headquarters that houses the Office of the Prime Minister.

The PLP/CCM/PAM government headed by Harris has been rocked by several scandals and accused of being involved in nepotism, cronyism, victimisation, corruption and resignations by persons appointed by his administration.

“There is a tender out there right now to demolish the Tabernacle Health Clinic. I was informed that four (4) names have been passed on to the Director as bid for tenders and I was not one. Then there was also a bid for the Tabernacle Playing Field, yet once again I was not one! I want to know what’s the requirements to do such a task. All me a get is fair share a knockbout!,” posted local heavy equipment owner and small contractor,” Alston Williams, a resident of Molinuex, PM Harris’ constituency and once a ardent supporter.

Founding and executive members of Harris’ Peoples Labour Party (PLP) have been ousted from their positions and were not even invited to the inaugural PLP Convention in March.

Among the casualties was Deputy Political Leader, Ambassador Sam Condor, who has been replaced by Akilah Nisbett, a member of Harris’ family and who was recently appointed as a senator and deputy speaker in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

PLP chairman Douglas Wattley and General Secretary, Clecton Phillip were also ousted. They fell from Harris’ grace after vehemently advocating publicly for good governance, accountability and transparency both at the party level and the government level and a call for an investigation into the whereabouts of over $10 million in campaign funds, that allegedly cannot be accounted for.

Douglas Wattley, who resigned as chairman of the state-owned ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), was replaced by Warren Thompson, appointed by Prime Minister Harris as Chairman of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis of which the bank’s CEO is Lenworth Harris, a brother of the prime minister, who has also been appointed by the prime minister as a director of the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board.

Phillip resigned early in 2016 as Press Secretary to Prime Minister Harris. There has also been resignations by Harris appointees from the St. Kitts- Nevis-Anguilla National Bank, the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA), and the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board over the directive to hand over EC$60 million lump sum to the National Housing Corporation (NHC) months before the start of any construction.

PLP’s Party organiser Alexis also a member of the Harris family and husband of the PLP deputy political leader, is chairman of the Board of Directors of the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank, in which the government is the majority shareholder. Nisbett also has interests MRI services at the Monkey Farm and the CTScan machine at the J.N. France General Hospital,

Two of Harris’ sisters hold top positions in the judiciary. Janine Harris-Lake who was removed as Registrar/Additional Magistrate was returned to the post after Dr. Harris became prime minister. Donna Harris, who headed the Legal Aid Unit was appointed as a Magistrate without the post being advertised as required by law.

Another of the Prime Minister’s sister is in charge of the government payroll in the Human Resources Department of Government in which Harris has ministerial responsibility.

Another of the prime minister’s brother is now second in command at Her Majesty’s Prison after his promotion as Chief Prison Officer, ahead of more senior officers. Dr. Harris has ministerial responsibility as Minister of National Security.

A nephew of Dr. Harris has been hired at his private residence as a butler/gardener earning a monthly salary of EC$5,000.

Jermaine Lake, a  brother in law of Dr. Harris was promoted to a new post in the Department of Health, and was paid tens of thousands of dollars retroactively, even though he never acted in the post previously.

Another of PM Harris’ brothers has significantly increased his heavy equipment pool and was given preference ahead of other contractors at the Park Hyatt construction site, the National Heroes Park in Conaree. Family members have also started companies or entities involved in renting cars, selling ice, renting tents, chairs and tables, construction, transportation, tire sales and repair.

Family members have also been appointed as directors on the Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC) Board, the St. Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC) Board, the Board of the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) and the Board of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC).

Inside sources have disclosed that the introduction of the new Hurricane Relief Option as part of the Citizenship By Investment Programme coincided with the issuance of a licence to a Harris family member as a service provider.

“He feels embattled over the mounting public criticism especially in social media, his failure to keep many of his election promises and added to that is the quiet dissension over his unilateral decisions prior to matters being brought to Cabinet, his one-man style dictatorial attitude to governance and his dwindling popularity amid growing public criticism by even his own supporters on social media,” said a person knowledgeable of the various situations.

A poll in April by renowned Jamaican pollster Bill Johnson found that former prime minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas enjoyed a whopping 73 percent performance rating over Prime Minister Harris.

The poll, commissioned by the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) of which Dr. Douglas is the National Political Leader, also found that Douglas enjoyed a 67 percent favourability rating compared to Dr. Harris’ 34 percent.

When asked how they rate Douglas and Harris on the basis of how they performed as Prime Minister, 73.8% said that Douglas did a good job as opposed to 36.0% who responded in a similar fashion for Harris. 57.6% were of the view that Harris is doing a poor job and 22.4% made the same conclusion about Douglas. On the question of who would do a better job going forward, 61.4% were convinced that Douglas would do a better job, 23.2% thought that Harris would, and 13.2% were undecided.

It also found that over 80 percent of Kittitians are concerned about the high levels of corruption in the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Administration.

Over 60 percent of likely voters felt that the country was heading in the wrong direction and the top issues rousing public concern and major setbacks were crime, corruption and nepotism, victimisation and the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

81 percent of voters are concerned about corruption, 70 percent about nepotism, 75.6 percent about crime, 51.8 percent on victimisation and 46.4 percent on the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

In the scientific poll consisting of  a sample size of 1100 likely voters, only 33.6% of the population viewed the country as moving in the right direction whereas significantly 61.2% thought that the country was heading in the wrong direction.

In the February 16th 2015 General Election, the Labour Party lost two of the St. Kitts seats it held – St. Christopher 1 by 4 votes and St. Christopher 4 by 26 votes.

Although in opposition, the SKNLP remains the largest single party in St. Kitts and Nevis, gaining 11,897 votes to the Shawn Richards’ Peoples Action Movement (PAM), 8,452 votes; Vance Amory’s Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) 3,951 votes; Joseph Parry’s (Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), 3,276 votes and Timothy Harris’ People’s Labour Party (PLP), 2,723 votes.

Seatwise in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, the PAM holds 4 seats, the SKNLP, 3 seats, the CCM, two seats; the NRP and the PLP, 1 seat each.

Harris’ three-party coalition is made up of the PLP, CCM and PAM.