THE National Democratic Movement (NDM) has come out in support of embattled People's National Party East Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament (MP) Damion Crawford but says he "needs to answer some questions".
NDM Chairman Peter Townsend, in a statement issued yesterday, said the party fully endorsed the priority chosen by the MP to spend his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocation on education. The NDM said if Crawford was successful in this quest it would "ensure a brighter future for all the residents" of that constituency and "begin the reversal of a cancerous traditional political culture".
"Crawford's proposal is consistent with how the NDM has always intended to use the CDF. This proposal will have its challenges but he should be supported nationally as it could be seen as the first step to dismantling the "hand out mentally" which has been the most significant action which has enabled corruption, the formation of the garrisons and its enforcement by the use of gangs and guns," the NDM chair said.
However, the party is at the same time urging "strong caution" to Crawford's stance.
"Prime Minister Portia Simpson has always claimed that most of her constituency funds have been used on education for over 35 years, yet her South West St Andrew (SWSA) constituency remains one of the poorest, underdeveloped and deprived constituencies but one of the strongest garrisons in Jamaica, where gangs and guns rule with very strong and ruthless actions. No one can forget the sign in SWSA 'Llove Portia of die'," Townsend said.
In this vein, the party is requesting a record of Crawford's expenditure.
"MP Crawford has disclosed that he received major sponsorship for his first education seminar/workshop but all his CDF seems to have been spent. MP Crawford needs to answer some questions: Has all the CDF money been spent on his education seminar? Was there any open and transparent discussion on the matter?" The NDM asked..
The party said "the country must be reminded of the NDM's proposal for the CDF, which includes a Constituency Assembly comprising of all stakeholders including all political, church, school and general community interests".
"All CDF funds allocated disclosed, discussed and decided by an open, transparent and democratic approach so that everyone in the Constituency can know how the funds are being spent and why," it exp
Yesterday, Crawford, when contacted by the Jamaica Observer, said he would be framing a response to the NDM's statement.
The fledgling MP's problems have multiplied since Sunday when a private session held in his constituency descended into a near brawl with party workers and supporters voicing upset over his handling of their issues. At the base of their hurt was what they said was the authoritarian leadership style and non-consultative approach of their MP despite the fact that he had worthwhile ideas. The comrades, who called on the hierarchy of the PNP to intervene, said if left on its own there was no guarantee the seat would remain in their camp come the next general elections.
Crawford's 3-2-1 education plan was developed with the intention of giving persons within the constituency access to higher education at lower rates or free of cost in instances.
The first phase of the programme was launched in July and involved a Mathematics camp for 412 fifth grade and tenth grade students from the constituency. The second phase is to see homework centres and 22 night schools across the constituency. Funding for the first phase came from the CDF and corporate Jamaica, Crawford said.