ANNATO BAY, St. Mary, October 13, 2017 - The highly publicised political campaign in the October 30 St. Mary South Eastern by-election has taken a new twist. Peoples National Party affiliate, The Patriots, are now questioning the eligibility of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate Dr. Norman Dunn to contest the elections.
The Patriots, which is the young professionals' arm of the People's National Party (PNP), is arguing that Dr. Dunn was unqualified to be nominated for the October 30 by-election.
In a statement this afternoon, The Patriots said Dr. Norman Dunn does not qualify to be nominated under Section 40 (2) of the Jamaican Constitution.
The Constitution states, among other things, that a potential candidate who is a director or manager of a company that is party to a Government contract must provide notification within a month of the election his intention to run for office.
The group claims that Dr. Dunn is a shareholder and director of several entities which hold contracts with the Government of Jamaica through the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) and other NHF drug dispensary programmes.
It said the companies, Medpro Jamaica and NORALDU, hold on-going agreements under which they are paid weekly by the government to supply drugs to NHF customers at pharmacies owned either by Dr. Dunn or one of his companies.
According to the Patriots, a search of the Jamaica Gazette has not shown the relevant notice being published as required by the Jamaican constitution.
The group has called for the JLP to immediately provide evidence that its candidate has complied with the constitutional requirement; otherwise the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (EOJ) should seek the advice of the Solicitor General on the validity Dr. Dunn's nomination.
But the Jamaica Labour Party has fired back against the allegation, indicating that Dr. Dunn is qualified and ready for the polls.
According to JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, Dunn is the only Jamaican candidate in the South East St Mary by-election qualified and ready for the polls on October 30.
Dr Chang says the PNP’s assertion fails on two simple points: "Dr Dunn has no contract with the Government of Jamaica for or on account of the public service. It is important to note that the (National Health Fund) NHF is a body corporate that can sue and be sued which means for the purposes of the Jamaica Constitution it is not a part of public service."
"Additionally", the JLP says "the law allows for Dr Dunn to make a declaration WITHIN 30 days of the election date, meaning: occurring inside the period of time before the day of the election.
The provision is very clear in Section 40 (2) part C of the Jamaica Constitution:
"In the case of election as a member of the House of Representatives, by publishing a notice in the Gazette WITHIN one month before the day of election, previously disclosed the nature of such contract and his interest or the interest of such firm or company therein."
According to the JLP's release, "It seems the issue the PNP has is an issue with the comprehension of the English language as the meaning of WITHIN is clear, ordinary or otherwise. If they had read the constitutional section in full they wouldn't have made such an error."
The release over the signature of General Secretary Dr. Horace Chang and MP Marlene Malahoo-Forte, who is also the Attorney General.