SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — The People's National Party Region Five has assigned its vice chairman Hopeton McCatty to take charge of the North West St Elizabeth constituency organisation in the wake of reports of disunity.
The PNP Region Five embraces St Elizabeth and Manchester.
Region Five chairman Wensworth Skeffery told delegates and hardcore supporters at a recent constituency conference in Maggotty that the move was intended to give the PNP a "fighting chance" of wresting NW St Elizabeth from the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP's) JC Hutchinson in the next parliamentary elections.
Hutchinson has held the traditionally strong JLP seat since 1997. However, the PNP now controls two of the three parish council divisions following last year's local government elections. The ruling party controls Ipswich, which is represented by Errol Hummingbird, and New Market where Cyril Martin shocked the JLP's Ernest Hendricks by two votes in a magisterial recount last year.
Lacovia, the other parish council division in NW St Elizabeth, is held by the JLP's Vinceroy Blake. Of four constituencies in St Elizabeth, only NW St Elizabeth is currently held by the JLP.
"After analysing the situation (reports of disunity) and realising the importance of North West St Elizabeth and the importance of New Market, Ipswich and indeed Lacovia divisions, we have decided to put in a new team to lead the charge," Skeffery, a senator, said.
"We can blame who we want to blame, but at the end of the day someone must take responsibility and as the regional chairman, I am taking responsibility to put the house in order in North West St Elizabeth," Skeffery said.
He said McCatty's constituency executive will include Hummingbird, Martin, constituency caretaker Richard Rowe lost to Hutchinson in 2011 -- and Andre Gordon, the divisional caretaker for Lacovia, among other senior party workers.
Their job, he said, will be to re-energise the constituency organisation with emphasis on the rebuilding of PNP groups and clusters, enumeration work and public education.
Skeffery emphasised that neither he nor McCatty had any interest in bidding to represent NW St Elizabeth. Their only interest, he said, was to strengthen the constituency organisation so that when a candidate is chosen the job will be easier.
"You can't win election if yu nuh organise," Skeffery explained.
McCatty also made it plain that he had no interest in being a candidate for elections. He told the NW St Elizabeth Comrades that for 25 years he has consistently rebuffed appeals to enter representational politics and he wasn't about to change.
His job now, he said, was to "build a PNP team, no 'almshouse' business, do the enumeration, identify comrades and put them on the voters list".
He urged Comrades to "cut out the 'almshouse' personal issues and deal with PNP business..."
A report read to delegates at the conference spoke o.f discord, disunity and paralysis within the constituency organisation.