The Bahamas, 04 Oct 2014 (Photo by Bahamas Tribune)- REMARKS FROM HON FRED MITCHELL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FOX HILL MP
I have reviewed the video footage of the demonstration of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) headed by Branville McCartney in Rawson Square on Wednesday 1st October. When I looked at the footage I saw some recognizable individuals from the Fox Hill constituency. They are not known supporters of the DNA. I had my block captains investigate the matter immediately.
Our investigations revealed that an individual which we will not name connected with the DNA contacted individuals in and around the Fox Hill parade and asked them if they wanted to make 25 dollars for a day’s work. That day’s work turned out to be demonstrating for the DNA and marching to town in a DNA T shirt. This is a well known practice which is called rent-a- crowd. The idea of the DNA was obviously to give the impression that it has widespread political support in the country. Nothing could be further from the truth. The DNA is a political irritant without a current political base but they are a press savvy group of complainers. In last week’s demonstration the DNA was especially duplicitous. They were trying to fool the public.
The reason I react to it is that I am incensed that the DNA would use vulnerable people in Fox Hill for the DNA’s political ends. I do not fault the people themselves; I fault the DNA for this cowardly action, taking advantage of our vulnerable people for political gain. I condemn it.
The fact is renting a crowd does not reflect the true political opinion in the country.
Furthermore it is not good for the reputation of the DNA who trumpeted themselves as 21st century Bahamians who would not be associated with attempts to buy support. Last week’s rent-a -crowd was not 21st century action but that of the typical actions of a UBP type political organization associated with the 1950s and 1960s in the last century.
Anyone in Fox Hill who is unable to find food would know that there is a mechanism through our constituency office which allows that to be done without conditions attached. There is no requirement to march on a parade. Genuine needs are met and will continue to be met without conditions and without political distinction or other distinctions. All are served without exception.
In the last general election, persons associated with the Free National Movement were found trying to secure support similarly by use of the cheque book. In that case they offered the sum of 10,000 dollars in exchange for switching sides. That did not work either.
What all political parties should offer to all Bahamians everywhere and to the people for Fox Hill is respect. They should offer them service and devotion to duty. I do not try to buy their support. I try to work for it. The DNA would be well advised as would the FNM to think again.