Last Updated on Friday, 17 August 2018, 6:49 by Denis Chabrol
As the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Friday prepares to begin its three-day congress, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said he has not used government funds to campaign for the chairmanship of his party.
“That’s not true…That’s not an accurate statement,” he said. Asked whether it was PNCR or personal resources that were being used to finance the campaigns, he said “well, it will be both”.
In recent weeks, Harmon, Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams have been travelling around Guyana and overseas where they have bee meeting with PNCR supporters in what is the most keenly contested elections for the post of de facto deputy leader of their party.
The PNCR’s Biennial delegates congress opens Friday afternoon and ends on Sunday.
Harmon’s on Thursday appealed to supporters and delegates from the Regions 8 (Potaro-Siparuni) and Region 9 (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) to vote for him because he has a track record of winning the opposition’s combined parliamentary opposition in 2011 and victory in 2015. “That is an important feature you must look for in your leaders- the ability to win and so this is a unique quality which I bring to you- the ability to win- to be able to take the resources of this country and be able to mould it into a winning combination,” he said.
He also promised to boost the PNCR’s membership ahead of the November 12, 2018 local government elections and the 2020 general elections. “As your Chairman, what I pledge to do is to ensure, first of all, that the groups are strong, that we focus on our members because the members are what make the groups, it is the groups that make our regions as the strong party in the regions that make our party strong,” he said.
In Georgetown, earlier this week Lawrence again targeted youths, promising to improve their conditions and involvement in decision-making.
The PNCR has over the years been accused of using youths for electoral purposes but doing little for their welfare after the elections.
Campaigning by Williams, the incumbent chairman, has been comparatively low-keyed, but sources said he has been working the telephone to mobilise delegates to vote for him. He is believed to command strong support in Region Four.
Williams has said there was no need to change the winning team and has challenged Harmon and Lawrence to an internal party debate. That debate has not been held.