Prominent Tobagonians have said that the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) Tobago Council is playing politics with the governance of Tobago and is not following the constitution or precedent to determine the island’s next Chief Secretary.
This follows the resignation of Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles on April 29 which followed his defeat as the PNM’s Tobago Council’s political leader on January 26.
The loss led to his successor Tracy Davidson-Celestine publicly calling for him to step down.
According to the THA Act #40 of 1996, the deputy Chief Secretary acts in that position until a new Chief Secretary is elected.
Secretary for Finance Joel Jack is now the acting Chief Secretary.
Commenting on the overall development of the matter, political analyst and former UWI lecturer Dr Winford James said the situation was “beyond disturbing”.
“The PNM is putting the party ahead of Tobago. This situation is anti-democratic. The naked grab for power by the Tracy-arm (Davidson-Celestine), is clear,” he said.
Former THA Chief Secretary Hochoy Charles said that in his view, the situation was one of “bacchanal and confusion”.
He said party politics should not play a role in how the THA is governed and advised PNM officials to revisit the constitution.
“This is not party business. This is government business,” Charles said.
He added: “The law (THA Act) is very clear. The 12 assemblymen will elect a Chief Secretary and deputy Chief Secretary. All you have to do is call a special meeting of the Assembly and elect a Chief Secretary,” he said.
Charles led the National Alliance for Reconstruction (Tobago) and Democratic Action Congress. He now leads the Platform of Truth.
Charles says Davidson-Celestine cannot be appointed Chief Secretary because she did not face the Tobago electorate in a THA election.
Former deputy THA chairman Benedict Armstrong shared similar sentiments.
He said a precedent was set and a similar scenario addressed in the 1980s.
“What is happening now, is just a show. I find it is a lot of hurrah about nothing. When Jeff Davidson was the Chairman of the Assembly and he resigned in about 1989, Lennox Denoon was the Deputy Chairman. He became the Chairman.”
Former parliamentarian Pamela Nicholson also shared her views on the issue.
“I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Joel Jack is the deputy Chief Secretary. He has the experience since the days of Dr Anselm London, to manage Tobago. He is most suited to become the Chief Secretary.”
The current THA term ends in January 2021.