“Tobago did not vote for independents,” members of the PNM Tobago Council’s executive argued at a press conference at their office in Scarborough on Friday. They were addressing the mass resignation on Monday of THA members from the Progressive Democratic Patriots party led by Watson Duke.
Political leader Ancil Dennis said Tobago was warned about who Duke was, adding that Duke's team totally ignored his shortcomings, attitude and personality as it benefited them. He said they associated with Duke when it was convenient to them, knowing all the things they now know.
He said this is not a time to be sad and distressed, but added: "The situation, to be quite, honest warrants that – warrants some disappointment, warrants some despair. The reality is, most Tobagonians did not expect us to be in this kind of chaos and bacchanal in the THA.
"Those who supported the PNM, I’m sure they were disappointed that the PNM did not win, but they expected at least stable governance from this administration that was elected. Here we are today, under very disastrous and stressful circumstances, where suddenly, after 12 months of poor governance, suddenly we have a defection of 13 members of the administration that Tobagonians voted into office now calling themselves united independents.”
He said the situation was not only sad but ridiculous, and these representatives needed to be held to account.
Minority Leader Kelvon Morris said he went into the elections as a PNM candidate and entered the assembly as a PNM representative, which he remains to this date.
“My simple question to these office-holders is: who voted for an independent candidate? When they answer that question, I want them to be truthful...
"The second question I want to ask them – because I know that there are action groups of the PDP – now that they are independent candidates, how are they going to represent the views of these people? What are the mechanisms for individual candidates to be able to represent the people who elected them?”
The arrangement, he said, is undemocratic.
“Democracy means that you are chosen by the people. It means that when any crisis arises, ultimately the people must have their say."He said the people of Tonago were not involved in the PDP members' decision to leave the party.
"This decision was simply a decision of 13 individuals seeking their own self-interest – not the interest of Tobago." Therefore, he said, whatever the THA Act said, they should "go back to the people and validate themselves.”
The council’s PRO Laurence Hislop said political parties were still relevant to governance in TT, and shaped public opinion. He also said the former PDP representatives could not be independent as a collective. The THA administration, he said, was a party.
"It is a party that just doesn’t have a name as yet, but it is a party, because it is still a group of people that are seeking to push a particular agenda, a particular policy. We have to ask the question: what agenda and what policies are they pushing?”