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Sears presents right reforms for PLP

Published: Sep 18, 2017

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When Alfred Sears challenged Perry Christie for the leadership of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) months before the general election, his colleagues thought him a fool. How could he challenge the “great leader”? He had no seat in the House of Assembly. It was too close to the general election.

These were the thoughts of the “wise” PLPs. They in their brilliance followed “Captain Christie” full steam ahead onto a massive reef. Few PLPs survived the May 10 crash. Christie too was a casualty.

Sears would have been a better leader. The party still would have lost the election, but not by as much if he were in charge. Bahamians had contempt for Christie. They wanted him gone and gone for good.

A PLP leadership contest is scheduled for next month to find the party’s third leader. Philip Brave Davis has held on to the role since the election. He and Glenys Hanna-Martin are the only two running to be leader, so far.

Sears has not said if he would run again. He has no seat in the House and that, again, is being held against him. He clearly, however, is concerned about the future of the party. He has submitted a package of proposed amendments to the PLP’s constitution that if adopted would lead to significant change. He wants a 50 percent quota for women in elected offices and as candidates; limited powers of the party leader going into national conventions; and stricter financial controls. Sears made these recommendations to the PLP’s National General Council (NGC).

Sears also proposed the total number of stalwart councillors be capped at 2,500, with the power to increase the number being limited to the NGC and not the leader. He suggests that stalwarts be proposed by the branches on the written endorsement of 12 members in good standing, and that the names of the nominees and their endorsers be published within the party for comment before consideration and ratification by the NGC.

Among the amendments, Sears has also proposed that all financial PLPs be allowed to vote in party elections; two NGC members be constituted to serve as cosignatories to open and operate bank accounts of the party; a comprehensive audited financial statement be presented to the NGC annually; and that the receipts and payments of the PLP be subjected to annual audits by an appointed auditor.

The nature of the PLP defeat on May 10 should lead the party to realize that radical reform, as Sears suggests, is needed. The PLP only won 37 percent of the vote and four seats. People thought the party led a government that was not concerned about the well-being of Bahamians. They thought there was widespread corruption and that Christie was out of touch.

The people will not easily return to the PLP. There are delusional PLPs who think this is inevitable because of the cycle of one-term governments. The people felt violated by PLP rule. They want new, honest faces and reforms from the party before they consider returning it to office.

Sears is on the right track. He wants a modern, accountable party that is not just the plaything of an “imperial ruler”. He wants more women and young people involved. He wants accountability. PLPs should study his proposals carefully. His document is well written. He has a vision for a modern PLP he wants to help create.

Maintaining the status quo will keep the PLP in opposition. We hope Sears is listened to and that he has a major role to play in restructuring his party.


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