Call for PLP chairman to quit in party row
The Progressive Labour Party’s chairman faced calls to resign yesterday after he claimed he was owed a place in a “friends and family policy”.
Damon Wade said in an audio recording that “incompetence, arrogance and vindictiveness” had been deployed against him by members of the Cabinet.
The comments at a PLP central committee meeting were recorded and posted on social media.
The party’s executive unanimously backed a motion of no confidence in the chairman last week and said it had “zero tolerance” for “the exploitation of party office for personal gain”.
A PLP spokeswoman said: “In the PLP, we proudly stand on our legacy of vowing that Bermuda’s opportunities and ingenuity must always be utilised in the public interest and for greatest good.
“Regrettably, the individual failed to live up to the high moral standard that the officers and members have set for the party and themselves.
“The party acted to protect and further enshrine its values.
“To that end, the PLP wishes to advise the public that the executive committee of the party held an emergency meeting last week where a motion of no confidence was passed unanimously against chairman Damon Wade.
“The executive committee also called for the chairman to immediately resign his position.”
The spokeswoman added: “The PLP has a zero-tolerance policy regarding the exploitation of party office for personal gain.”
She said: “No public official or public servant acted inappropriately.”
But Mr Wade told The Royal Gazette the party comments were “misleading and malicious”.
Mr Wade, who became chairman in October 2018, added: “I do not intend to discuss the details of our dispute publicly, but I adamantly reject the extremely damaging statements made by the party spokesperson, regarding my actions as party chairman.”
“The publishing of their statement was irresponsible and unconstitutional. I have asked them to retract the misleading and malicious statements made.”
Mr Wade appeared to refer to a project in the recording, understood to involve the National Sports Centre in Devonshire, that he claimed could generate jobs and provide funds for investment in black-owned businesses.
He said: “Instead of seriously considering the potential, the Premier sent me to discuss this project with the Secretary of the Cabinet.”
Mr Wade said he was told the proposal had “spelling and grammar errors” and could not be sold to the party members — and that other proposals had faced “the same outcome”.
He said they included projects that would “break monopolies in insurance, energy, automotive, senior care, banking and financial services”.
Mr Wade told the meeting there was one thing he was “pleased to hear” at the annual delegates conference “that we are finally, publicly, embracing friends and family, as a policy”.
Mr Wade added: “It has always annoyed me that our political enemies have shamed us away from this in the past, even though that’s how they always operated.
“The only question I have is, who decides who is friends and family? Is it the Premier? Is it the Cabinet?
“Surely if you ask the Premier, he would say that the chairman of the party would be included in friends and family, right?
“Well, let me share with you how the Premier and some of his Cabinet members have treated the chairman of the party, and you can decide.
“A large target was placed on my back as soon as I announced that I would be running for chairman and my intent was to hold our Cabinet accountable.”
Mr Wade claimed he had been badly treated by several government ministers.
These included Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, and Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works.
Mr Wade said: “It‘s been a year, struggling, begging these people to allow me to do this project.
Mr Wade added: “The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred over a week ago, when I angrily brought this situation up in a WhatsApp to the Premier, and true to form, he proceeded to tell me he did not like my tone.
“Seriously. Him and the members of his Cabinet have cost me over a quarter of a million dollars in 12 months and he don’t like my tone.”
Mr Wade added that the central committee needed to “take back control” of the party.
He said at the meeting, believed to have been earlier this month: “They are not royalty and we are not their servants to be treated any way they please.”
The chairman challenged the Premier to “confirm, through words or actions, that we are officially at war”.
He suggested Mr Burt could commit to finalising a contract with him “by the end of the week”.
Mr Wade added: “At least one Cabinet minister needs to be removed immediately, that the Premier can choose.
“However, the Premier should not be able to save face by replacing that minister with MP Jason Hayward.”
Mr Burt said he had objected to the tone of Mr Wade’s messages in another recording and had advised him to “reconsider your approach”.
But he said there was “no state of war existing between myself and the chairman” and that “I do not believe that anyone is blocking this particular project”.
Mr Burt added: “What I am making sure, and what the Government always has to do, is to make sure the Government is doing things in the right way.”
Mr Wade said yesterday that his speech was recorded without his consent and declined to comment on it.
The Premier, Ms Foggo, Mr Dickinson and Lieutenant-Colonel Burch also declined to comment yesterday.
A government spokeswoman said questions were “better suited” for the PLP.
A party spokeswoman said that it would not comment beyond its earlier statement.
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