The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) says it will contest all 114 electoral districts in the upcoming Local Government Elections and 41 constituencies in next year’s General Election as it seeks to overthrow the People’s National Movement (PNM).
Nominations for candidates will take place at the party’s headquarters from July 1 to 31 between 9 am and 4 pm. Forms are available at the headquarters and online. Candidates will be screened following nomination.
But MSJ’s elections officer Ernesto Kesar said the party was worried that Local Government Elections may not be called.
He said the PNM has a history of postponing the democratic process and has failed to deliver on its promise of local government reform.
Under former PNM governments, Local Government Elections were postponed between 2006-2010, 1962-1968 and 1974-1977.
Speaking at yesterday’s media conference at the MSJ’s new headquarters on Lord Street, San Fernando, Kesar said the neither the PNM nor the United National Congress (UNC) has the gumption to bring local government reform as it will reduce the power of central government and empower local government.
“We have seen local government elections postponed twice under a particular prime minister and it was postponed again. It seems like it is going to be postponed once more because we have not seen any movement towards the presentation of that local government reform bill that seems to be very elusive.
So we are calling on the government to make good on its promise because, at the end of the day, local government is where true governance for the people will be obtained.
But it seems like no administration, red or yellow, PNM or UNC have had the gumption to bring that legislation to Parliament, to decentralise power.
“Because this is what is happening here, we have something that is called maximum leadership in their country.
There is no change in the dimension where leadership is concerned. As a result, it lends to what the political leader mentioned where small groups of people continue to get the lion’s share in everything. In some cases, they don’t even vote. We are saying here this morning, let the voting people count for once in Trinidad and Tobago,” Kesar said.
Kesar said the PNM and UNC have bases but those did not constitute 25 per cent of the electorate. For this reason, he called on citizens to make their vote count and support a party that will listen to them.
While the MSJ does not have the finances as the PNM and UNC, political leader David Abdulah said the funds will come from members of the party and citizens. Abdulah said that if 100 people contribute $200 monthly, he said $20,000 will be enough to carry out campaign activities.
With many small contributors as opposed to a few large financiers, he said the party would not be beholden to just a few people but to many.
He said the MSJ does not plan to flood the media with “in your face” political advertisements as the public was fed up with those kinds of campaigns.
The MSJ was formed in 2009 and was led by former Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president general Errol McLeod. In 2010, it joined with the UNC, NJAC, COP and TOP to form the coalition People’s Partnership (PP) which won the 2010 general election.
But with the PP’s inability to address corruption within its ranks, the MSJ, then led by Abdulah, left the government in 2012. Citing several socio-economic and political factors, it decided not to contest the 2015 general election. In the 2013 and 2016 local government elections, the MSJ contested a few municipalities.