Sears proposes changes to PLP’s constitution

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With a second leadership bid still under consideration, Alfred Sears has submitted a detailed package of proposed amendments to the constitution of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), including instituting a 50 percent quota for women in all elected structures, limiting the powers of the leader of the party going into national conventions and mandating stricter financial controls.

Sears made these recommendations to the National General Council (NGC).

He wrote that the devastating loss the PLP suffered at the polls in May showed that the party did not reflect its core values in government.

“The PLP lost its historical role, I believe, as the champion of political reform, economic restructuring and Bahamian economic empowerment,” Sears said.

“The party must once again lead the public narrative for national liberation for the Bahamian people.”

Sears said his proposed amendments are based on the recommendations contained in the party’s core values of democratic practice and his leadership platform for the January convention

Sears was unsuccessful in his bid against former Prime Minister Perry Christie.

According to Sears, the amendments will signal to the electorate that the PLP is “serious about regaining its position as an instrument of liberal and progressive political, social, cultural and economic transformation in The Bahamas”.

He said a transparent and accountable internal governance process is the best evidence that the PLP is “worthy and can be entrusted with the progressive and liberal transformation of The Bahamas”.

The former attorney general recommended the party constitute full representation of women in all decision-making structures and institute a program of affirmative action, including the provision of “a quota of not less than 50 percent of women in all elected structures of the party and as parliamentary candidates to enable such effective participation”.

The PLP offered seven female candidates in the election, four of which were incumbents.

There were 39 seats contested. The PLP won four.

Glenys Hanna-Martin, the former minister of transport and aviation, was the only female PLP member to win a seat.

Sears noted that women account for around 51 percent of the electorate, and despite being granted the right to vote in 1962, today women still represent less than 10 percent of the leadership of the PLP, the Parliament and the Cabinet.

The FNM only ran four women in the election. Lanisha Rolle, the minister of social services, is the only woman in Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ Cabinet.

The FNM won 35 seats.

“The party, consistent with its core values, from its early days supported the Women Suffragist Movement in The Bahamas,” Sears wrote.

“These amendments will commit the party to implement affirmative action measures to ensure greater representation of women in all leadership structures of the party and the government of The Bahamas.”

 

Limiting power

Sears recommended the party remove provisions that allow the leader of the party to increase the number of stalwart councillors as he deems necessary.

He also recommended removing the provision that states no person selected shall be under 50.

He proposed this be changed so that nominees for stalwart councillor be proposed by the branches on the written endorsement of 12 members of good standing, and the names of the nominees and their endorses be published within the party for comment before consideration and ratification by the NGC.

Sears also proposed the total number of stalwart councillors be capped at 2,500, with the power to increase the number limited to the NGC.

Ahead of the January convention, Sears expressed concern that Christie stacked the deck in his favor without a transparent process of selecting stalwart councillors.

He also proposed setting national conventions every two years in the month of May or June, while a special national convention might be convened by the leader or on written request by one fourth of the members of the NGC.

Sears said these amendments would take away the power given to the party leader at the convention; allow worthy younger people to be appointed stalwart councillors; give the power to the branches to recommend stalwart councillors; and give the NGC the power to ratify the appointment of new stalwart councillors in a “transparent and accountable manner”.

 

Campaign finance

Among the amendments, Sears has also proposed two NGC members be constituted to serve as co-signatories to open and operate bank accounts of the party; a comprehensive audited financial statement be presented to the NGC annually; and that the receipts and payments of the PLP be subjected to annual audits by an appointed auditor.

“These amendments will institute proper accounting to the National General Convention, the National General Council and members of the party of the assets, liabilities, income, campaign contributions and expenses of the party at regular intervals and in a transparent manner.” Sears wrote.

Other amendments proposed include that the party’s objectives read ‘to develop the economic and natural resources of The Bahamas by encouraging the maximum Bahamian ownership of the economic enterprises of The Bahamas; support the equality and empowerment of women, combat sexism and ensure the voice of women is heard in the PLP and properly represented at all levels’.

He also proposed a sub-article be added entitling members to take a full and active part in the discussion and implementation of party policies; receive and impart information on all aspects of the party; receive political education about the party’s history; offer constructive criticism of any member, official or program of the party; and take part in elections and be elected or appointed to any committee, structure, delegation or office of the party.

Sears has also recommended the party add to its constitution that it shall cooperate closely with religious bodies and provide, on an interfaith basis, for the recognition of the spiritual needs of its many members who are believers.

He appealed to the stalwart councillors and delegates attending the October 22 convention to support these amendments.

 

 

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