At the recently-held press conference at Team Unity’s Command Centre on Fort Street in downtown Basseterre, Dr. Timothy Harris was the first speaker to have voiced his disapproval of George being the Federation’s Supervisor of Elections.
He claimed that the opposition has to contend with many issues created by the government which have adversely affected the democracy of St. Kitts and Nevis, and one of them is the choosing of party hacks to achieve political agendas.
“Where we talk about Supervisor of Elections who became guilty of misfeasance…that, in my view, is a reflection of the quality of the choice made by the Prime Minister in these particular determinations, where you choose party hacks knowingly and deliberately to achieve narrow political agenda at the expense of the State and the citizens and residents.
“When you choose a Wingrove George to become the Supervisor of Elections, a man who is not known for anything that can be done well in a competent way, a man with any known management experience, a man with any good reputation among his peers, a man who has never even reached the rank of a senior civil servant to head such a significant and serious institution dealing with fair election, it tells you that their plan is to rob and steal the elections in broad daylight. You take among the most junior functionary in the civil service; a man who has had record of non-performance even as a Registration Officer, and you choose him to be the head honcho of the system.”
Harris claimed that the Executives of Team Unity are aware that they are in for a lot of trouble in the upcoming general elections but they would remain vigilant.
He also claimed that the electoral system is corrupt and cited an issue in his Constituency involving Dr. Patrick Welcome.
“When the first act is to switch around other Registration Officers, terminate Dr. Patrick Welcome as Registration Officer for Number Seven, we are seeing the party politics entering in what requires dispassionate thinking and action. And we are seeing really the corruption of the system that led to the court judgment in Nevis that found at least two guilty of misfeasance. And those two had at all times the blessing and full public support of the minority leader.”
Pointing fingers at the former Supervisor of Elections, Leroy Benjamin, and Nevis’ former Registration Officer Bernadette Lawrence, both of whom were found guilty of misfeasance, Harris asserted that they were “doing the work of the devil and we can’t go to the devil now looking for justice”.
He posited that anyone chosen to be the Supervisor of Elections must be above board, adding that “it is our considered view that Wingrove George is neither fit nor proper to serve as Supervisor of Elections. We are saying that we need independent people to serve as Registration and Returning Officers. They must stand the test of time and they must never, once they receive their appointment, be seen in any party shirts and to be seen engaged in any party activity”.
Adding his view to George’s appointment, Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement, Mark Brantley said: “We see the fraud we are having in terms of the manipulation of the electoral system to preserve the best of interest of one man at the expense of the democracy in the country. A lot of manipulation is happening at the Electoral Office.
“This issue of the new Supervisor of Elections is one that concerns me greatly, because, as I understand the Constitutional Provisions, a Supervisor will be appointed after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and with the Prime Minister. I want to reiterate that the first time I heard of Wingrove George was on a WINN FM news report and I think it must make a mockery of consultation that the Leader of the Opposition, who ought to be consulted, would be advised of the appointment of a Supervisor of Elections by a news report.
Brantley also said that he had written to the Governor General on the matter but he had since received no response from him.
Also voicing his disapproval on the selection of the Supervisor of Elections, former PAM leader, Lindsay Grant said: “A lot has been said today about the Supervisor of Elections, one Wingrove George, but I believe, more than anyone else, I have suffered the brunt of his partiality towards the ruling party.
“In fact, I have challenged over the length of time Wingrove George used to be the Registration Officer for Constituency Number Four over some 200 matters, and not one matter, not one person has he removed from the List. In fact, as we stand at the moment, I think I have some hundred and something before the High Court after his ruling.”
Grant, who is the PAM candidate for Constituency Number 4 highlighted two incidents that occurred in his Constituency involving the Acting Supervisor of Elections.
“…What is more interesting is this, that the person who has succeeded Wingrove George as the Registration Officer in Constituency Four is one Meredith Hendrickson. When Meredith Hendrickson comes to do matters of objection, he walks with Wingrove George. And he has said to me, and it is on record, that if Wingrove George were not present he couldn’t do the work because he does not know the work.
“And what happens is that Wingrove George directs him as to what decision he should make. And as a consequence of that I have refused and I challenged that matter in court, because you can’t tell me you have a Supervisor of Elections in Wingrove George and that he has to be present every time an objection matter is being heard because the Registration Officer said he does not know about the work. But why are we paying you, why we paying them? And that’s the great breakdown of our institutions that we are having.”
George was appointed to act as Supervisor after the substantive office holder, Raphael Archibald, fell ill last year.