PNC General Secretary quits

….cites lack of financial accountability; poor preparation for fair, transparent internal election

In a move that further highlights the troubles of the Peoples National Congress (PNC), the party’s General Secretary has resigned, just days away from its 22nd Biennial Delegates Congress.
Dawn Hastings-Williams tendered her resignation with effect from June 24, citing among other things the lack of readiness for this weekend’s congress and concerns regarding financial accountability.
These were outlined by Hastings-Willians in a letter to the party’s leader, Aubrey Norton.

Dawn Hastings-Williams

“With all the administrative task that has to be undertaken by the secretariat, I believe that the one-month period for preparation for such a congress can lead to confusion rather than having a fair and transparent process and outcome,” the politician, who is also a former Government minister, penned.
She also expressed concerns that as general secretary, she was not being integrally involved in the preparations.
“I think that it is my duty as the General Secretary to be integrally involved in every aspect of the preparation for the Congress. However, that has not been happening in many instances. For example, invitations were sent out to persons without my knowledge and I don’t know under whose authorised signature other than the General Secretary of the Party. I found out when I began to send out a few written invitations and only to be told that they are already in receipt of an invitation. This, I see as a gross disrespect to my office,” Hastings-Williams contended.
In her letter, the former General Secretary also expressed concerns regarding the removal of a Central Processing Unit (CPU) from the Office of the General Secretary, without her knowledge.

PNCR leader Aubrey Norton

“Membership-ever since my assumption of Office as the General Secretary, I have been attempting to correct this situation after I was informed that the external drive with all the information on the General membership was removed and perhaps destroyed and that the software on the computer was crashed. I can confirm the computer was eventually fixed sometime in late April or early May. And then you had the incident where the CPU was removed from the department without the General Secretary’s permission. This occurrence caused a delay for almost two weeks. Consequently, I cannot personally vouch for the accuracy of the records in this section,” she outlined.
Additionally, Hastings-Williams highlighted that she has received complaints from several groups and party members some in writing, that the records of the secretariat do not correspond with their previous submissions and that their membership register does not reflect their true membership.
She further revealed that many members also claim that they have been unable or will be unable to meet the short deadlines set for the submission of the delegates and other information because of the short notice period for Congress.
“Consequently, I cannot substantiate or dismiss the accuracy of these claims especially when it was only Friday 21st June, the updated but not quite completed general membership register was handed over to the administrator. Hence the need for corrections and changes will have to be done between the current time and the date of the Congress,” she outlined.
In fact, she highlighted an instance whereby someone from a group in the USA visited her office to enquire about the reason why membership cards were not being printed.
“…and we both entered the Membership Department to examine the computer and the other equipment so as to determine what was the pending issue and to see whether he can assist in any way to get the membership matter addressed. Not even five minutes past when the Leader called him to ask why was he questioning a junior staff about membership. The expression on the Comrades face and the tone of his voice told me that something was not right. I never felt so humiliated after that incident,” the politician expressed.
“I felt as if I was being watched and monitored. In fact, this was actually the second time I felt humiliated after being locked out at the gate where canters and cars were used to block my vehicle from entering to pick me up to take me home from work,” she revealed.
Hastings-Williams also reflected that during her time as GS, which lasted for over a year, she was unable to present any financial statement to the Central Executive Committee. “Reason simply being that I have no access to the weekly or monthly income and expenditure statement. I had requested of the accountant last December to prepare and produce a financial statement for the year 2023 so as to present it to the CEC. When I called for the statement to be handed in to me the accountant said that she had completed the statement as was instructed by me but was told not to hand it over to me but to put in on hold.”
Not conducive to working
Moreover, Hastings-Williams contended that “Congress Place at present is not conducive to working especially when you have someone shouting and threatening staff that they will be sent home.”
PNC’s biennial congress is set for this weekend, commencing Friday, June 28.
Norton, whose leadership style has been criticised and questioned by many party members including stalwart Amna Ally, is being challenged for the position of PNC leader.
There have been a number of controversies leading up to the PNC Congress, with the most recent being allegations of sexual assault against Norton by party member Vanessa Kissoon.
Kissoon, who is currently a councillor on the Linden Town Council, claimed that Norton had threatened to rape her at gun point.
The PNC’s elders have since launched an investigation but indicated that the process could not have been completed before the congress.
Moreover, Norton has not opted to step down from the leadership race during this period.
He is being challenged by Roysdale Forde and Amanza Walton-Desir. (G11)