Minnis

Government Must Now Answer on Corruption

*  Court of Appeal verdict shifts focus back to government

*  Judicially condemned Cabinet Ministers must resign or be terminated

*  FNM found wanting on transparency and anti-corruption pledge

*  Government must account to taxpayers on legal and forensic costs

*  Scandal cannot be swept under the proverbial rug

*  DNA stands by call for Vote of No Confidence in Prime Minister

 

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has reviewed the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal in the Frank Smith matter. According to court documents, the appellate court dismissed the argument made by the prosecution that Chief Magistrate Joyanne Ferguson-Pratt erred in her ruling that Ms. Barbara Hanna was not a reliable witness and therefore, there was no case to answer. While the Court of Appeal acknowledged that the Chief Magistrate made some procedural missteps, they concluded that there was an 'abundance of examples of doubtful testimony' from Ms. Hanna.

It is the DNA's position that we will not speak to the truth or falsity of the allegations made by Ms. Hanna against the former Public Health Authority (PHA) Chairman, Mr. Frank Smith, considering that based on her testimony during cross-examination she was considered by the Chief Magistrate to be an unreliable witness. This is also against the backdrop that the prosecution provided no further substantial evidence to make a determination for a case to answer.

In a previous release issued by our Spokesperson for Good Governance – Mr. Geoffrey Deleveaux on 3 February 2019, we highlighted the 'gross incompetence and clumsiness displayed by the entities involved in making and arguing the case on behalf of the Crown'. The unethical conduct and political interference of the executive arm of government has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in this case and other cases before the courts. While we in the DNA support the prosecution of public officials who appear to have abused their authority or broken the law, we do not support phishing expeditions and the wastage of taxpayers’ funds. The government must now fully disclose how much this exercise, other legal matters involving external counsel and all forensic audits have cost taxpayers to date.

It was abundantly clear throughout the trial and recorded in transcripts that Ms. Hanna was an unwilling witness who did not initiate these proceedings of her own will and was coerced to testify in this case. In her words, she was ‘being used’. Furthermore, the subsequent granting of a contract to Ms. Hanna without Board and Cabinet approval as well as inconsistencies in phone records used, demand that answers be provided by the government.

Now that the Court of Appeal has ruled on this matter, we renew our demand for Prime Minister Minnis to have his Ministers, Marvin Dames and Dr. Duane Sands do the honorable thing and resign or be terminated for their participation and behavior in this matter. It is disheartening that an administration that postulates commitment to transparency and accountability with a promise to 'weed out corruption' has been found wanting in an embarrassing predicament. This scandal must not be swept under the proverbial rug.

The DNA stands by its demand during our call for action and 10 days of activism that a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister should be moved in the Parliament.  We note that after much persuasion, the Leader of the Official Opposition has followed our lead and has finally committed to move this motion at the next sitting of Parliament.  The Bahamian people deserve better governance.

Arinthia S. Komolafe

Leader
Democratic National Alliance

DNA urges Minnis Administration to Implement Good Governance Platform

For Immediate Release
21 May, 2017

The Leaders, Executive Council, Officers, and Members of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) extend congratulations once again to the Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis and the Free National Movement (FNM) on winning the 2017 General Elections. The DNA looks forward to working with the current administration to restore our nation to the economic and social prosperity that we are accustomed to as Bahamians in this great Commonwealth.

In this regard, the DNA welcomes the Minnis administration’s commitment to eradicating corruption, wastage, inefficiency, and partiality in our governance structure and request the said administration to commit to the timeline on the following 10 points, some of which are outlined in both the DNA and FNM’s platform for good governance. We request the Minnis administration to:

1. Bring into force the Freedom of Information Act within the first 60 days of office. The DNA also invites the current Minnis administration to consult our organisation with respect to the DNA’s Right to Information Bill as a source and guidance for amendments to the said Act.

2. Draft, consult and table a Fiscal Responsibility Bill in Parliament within the first 120 days of office.

3. Draft, consult and table a Whistle blower’s Bill in Parliament within the first 120 days of office.

4. Prepare and issue a white paper on National Procurement within the first 90 days of office to be consulted with by relevant stakeholders for effective implementation by fiscal year 2018/19.

5. Within the first 90 days of office, prepare and release a white paper on the establishment of the office of the Ombudsman, wherein the said entity will serve as a watchdog of the government on behalf of the Bahamian people.

6. Within the first 120 days of office, strengthen and enforce the Public Disclosure Act and create and enforce a Code of Conduct Act for Public Officials.

7. Prepare and issue a white paper within the first 90 days of office to limit the term of the PM to two terms, limit the powers of the Prime Minister, create a recall system for non-performing Members of Parliament and to set fixed dates for national and local elections.

8. Within the first 120 days of office, prepare and release a white paper on electoral reform inclusive of matters relating to electoral finance reforms, automation of the electoral process and voting participation by the Bahamian diaspora.

9. Within the first 120 days of office, prepare and release a white paper on the introduction of Local Government to New Providence inclusive of the strengthening and empowerment of the current system of Local Government in the Family Islands.

10. Within the first 90 days of office, prepare and release a white paper on Public Sector Reform. The DNA is also prepared to sit in consultation with the current administration and its agents to discuss the particulars of our white paper released regarding the same.

While the DNA recognizes the constraints that the government may be under in the Attorney General’s Office and Ministry of Finance among others to accommodate the DNA’s 10-point request, the DNA proposes request for proposals be sent out for Public Private Partnerships to expedite the same as well as to embrace the vast professional expertise within the Bahamian public. The fundamental question is not whether we can afford to bring about these much needed reforms, but whether we can afford not to implement these long overdue initiatives at this critical juncture in our nation’s history.

As concerned citizens in our Commonwealth committed to advancing a stable democracy that is both transparent and accountable, we in the DNA look forward to a positive collaboration with this current administration in government to the benefit of the Bahamian people and those who have chosen to make The Bahamas their home.

Democratic National Alliance
Opposition Party