Transparency, accountability, honesty, integrity and people-participation are going to be how Cayman’s newest political party is going to be run, said Interim Leader North Side MLA Ezzard Miller who was joined by Interim Chairman Donovan Ebanks former Chief Secretary. At the press briefing, Miller and Ebanks were joined by Mr. Gilbert Connolly, former Chief Officer of the Tourism Attractions Board to briefly share their vision of why the party is needed, how it will be run, and why it is different.
During the press conference, the party’s new website www.peoplesparty.ky, was announced, along with a series of island-wide meetings, in-keeping with the new party’s major theme of grass roots participation, which, Mr. Ebanks and Mr. Miller affirmed, were built into both the structure of the party and its constitution. These meetings were scheduled to begin on Monday, November 16th, at the George Town T Hall. In-person meetings of party members, ongoing since September 2018 but continuing via the Zoom online platform since the start of the pandemic, will resume at the party HQ, also, on Thursday evening.
Commenting before the opening, Interim Party Chair Ebanks said: “It should be obvious to most if not all that the public needs to become more involved and assertive in governance.
“We should not assume that someone else is looking out for our interests and those of our children,” he continued, adding: “It is time for far more of us to take our responsibilities seriously. CIPP will provide a much-needed tool for all Caymanians to do just that."
Sharing his vision for the strong strand of grassroots-up style of accountability which Mr. Miller and Mr. Ebanks both agreed had been demonstrably lacking in a recent series of government-led events, Mr. Miller explained how the more participatory approach was safeguarded within the party structure, not only through its islands-wide organizational framework, were district committees are to be empowered, but also within its constitution, calling it a “belt-and-braces” method Registering the party as a non-profit organization would also enforce transparence in relation to finances, Mr. Miller added.
He explained he said the party rests on a foundation of small neighbourhood groups that will share information across communities and upwards to Electoral District Committees (EDCs). The EDCs will in turn be represented in a national steering committee that will ensure that the people’s needs are understood and actioned. In the same way, information will travel down to and across communities and neighbourhoods.
With election-time nearing, and only one elected representative so far, Mr. Miller said the process could nevertheless not be rushed in the name of political expediency “We are not selecting candidates and forcing them on people. We want to get the grass roots involved, and we want the people in each electoral district to find their own candidates, promote them, and get them elected,” he said.
“One of the things that concerns me is because the people are concerned in the process for six weeks, leading up to nomination day, and then everybody has forgotten about then for another six weeks, four years later,” Mr. Miller said, before going on to list the points that a UN resolution of 2005 had identified as being key in an effective democracy, which are, the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, a pluralistic system of parties and organisations, respect for the rule of law, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, transparence and accountability in public administration, and an Independent and pluralistic media.
“Some of those things are in place, and I believe the introduction of the People’s Party and the framework we have put in place for the empowerment of people will certainly add to the opportunities,” he said.
During question-time, Ralph Lewis of the Caymanian Times asked, “Can you highlight the importance of a party, versus independent candidates?” Mr. Miller answered, “Independence can function properly but I cannot think of any time when independence formed a government. I think it’s time that the people be given a choice of parties.
“How important is governance in running countries? Mr. Lewis asked next. “It’s the most important thing, not only governance but being able to audit the government structure, and includes government structure, and being able to see what the government structure is,” Mr. Miller answered.
“My track record on Governance and wanting to be a check on the executive arm of government I think bears itself out in my role as chairman in the public accounts committee. The governance that must be put in place must not only be effective, and open, but must allow at all times for those people that the decisions are being made about to be involved in the decision-making process,” Mr. Miller said.
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