By Dana Malcolm
TurksandCaicos, May 15, 2023 – The Isaac Farm in North Caicos is sure to be well supported with some of the country’s largest businesses pledging their support including Graceway Supermarkets, Grace Bay Resorts, and Beaches Turks and Caicos.
Beaches in particular was recognized as a steadfast partner by founder Courtney Missick. He described them as one of the companies that helped him with trucking, machinery, and more.
“These are the people that I call on to help me,” he said, gifting the organization an honorary key to the farm. Tanya Swann, Director of Sales received the gift on behalf of the company.
Jamell Robinson, Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development in presenting the token, expressed hope that the partnership could continue far into the future. Graceway Supermarkets also received a key of their own recognizing the significant partnership with them over the years.
Beaches Turks and Caicos, Graceway Supermarkets and Grace Bay Resorts are all corporate citizens whom have been lauded in the past for their community involvement.
E. Jay Saunders “officially” fired by Premier Washington Misick
#TurksandCaicoisIslands, February 27, 2024 – E Jay Saunders at 3:09pm today confirmed that it is official, he will join the backbench of the Progressive National Party, that Washington Misick, Turks and Caicos Islands premier and PNP party leader has decided to strip him of the ministerial portfolio which includes his role as the deputy premier and the minister with responsibility for finance investment and trade.
Both are constitutionally granted at the pleasure of the serving premier.
Residents weighing in ahead of the official confirmation had said, they expected as much and are not shocked that Saunders, who challenged the premier for leadership of the PNP on Saturday past, would be axed.
“It happened to AK (Akierra Missick) it will happen to E. Jay said one of our subscribers.”
Saunders made the reveal in a WhatsApp chatroom he had created to keep local media informed.
“Fyi, its official,” he typed.
When asked by our Dana Malcolm, if the termination meant he would no longer be deputy premier and would still hold the post of finance minister, Saunders said it means, “I’ll be joining the others in the back bench.”
Jay Saunders, had even earlier in the day confirmed to Magnetic Media he had seen the rumors circulating about his termination; rumors that also said Jamell Robinson, currently the minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development was top of the list to replace him as deputy – but at that time, there was no official recall of his post in the Turks and Caicos Islands Cabinet.
Now, that is all changed.
We have reached out for comment from the premier on the events of Saturday and the National General Council of the PNP and his decision to cut E. Jay Saunders from his front bench, but there has been no reply up to publication time.
It is also reported that another who challenged Washington Misick for leader of the PNP has been disciplined and may lose his government job. Jas Walkin, the North Caicos District Commissioner, despite withdrawing his name from the ballot after a warning from the Office of the Deputy Governor is now on suspension.
This is a developing story, Magnetic Media will have more in our Top Stories newscasts.
Conjecture, Collusion and Controversy Rumors swirl as PNPs Vote at NGC
Dana Malcolm and Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicoisIslands, February 27, 2024 – “Unity” is the convenient refrain from the executive of the PNP party following a weekend National General Congress (NGC) that aimed to shut down a leadership scramble, an action which further fuelled rumors that the Progressive National Party is severely fractured.
“Their body language and facial expressions are telling me that there’s still contention there. Those two fellas did not even look in each other’s direction,” that was one comment shared with our news team following the leadership scuffle featuring E. Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Washington Misick, TCI Premier.
It was one of dozens of similar observations and concerns shared with the news team and across social media as residents observed the aftermath.
Saunders had fallen short of gaining the two-thirds delegate support needed to truly challenge Misick for the top spot, however, he still counts the number of votes secured in the motion as significant.
“Forty percent of the people voted for an outcome, that means there is a noise in the market that says, we want change,” he said in a one on one interview with Magnetic Media.
The nature of the situation Saunders explained to our news team was that his bid to challenge the Premier was registered late and there was a resulting vote on whether his late bid should be accepted on the vote of two-thirds of delegates or if he could push through with less support. The response was a resounding ‘no’ with 58 voting in his favor and 88 against.
Saunders wasn’t the only one throwing his hat in the ring for control of the governing PNP party.
Jas Walkin, now the suspended North Caicos District Commissioner and Dameko Dean, former Wheeland party hopeful had also made a grab at the mantle but were not included in the National General Congress runoff.
Walkin publicly withdrew his bid in a statement which read, in part, “I received an email on February 6, 2024 from the Secretary-General confirming that my candidacy for leadership was approved,” but he continued in explanation for his sudden withdrawal from the race that, “Unfortunately my push has been halted, and I have to officially withdraw my candidacy for leadership of the Progressive National Party. On Thursday, February 22nd 2024 at 4:36 p.m., I received a letter from the Head of the Public Service advising me that Her Excellency the Governor had received confirmation of my candidacy for leadership from an Executive Member of the Progressive National Party, NEC and if I was to attend the Congress or proceed with my candidacy/race for leadership on Saturday, February 24th 2024; I would be disciplined.”
The series of events has left the PNP rushing to maintain its image of a unified party.
Kyle Knowles, Party Chairman released a statement immediately after, calling for togetherness.
”We can announce that the Party Leader Hon. Charles W. Misick has been reconfirmed to continue guiding our party forward.The Congress showcased democracy in action—where everyone’s voice matters, opinions are respected, and decisions are made transparently. It was a display of unity, civility, and passionate debate, highlighting our dedication to democratic values and founding principles of the PNP.”
The nature of the vote and Congress, carried out without invitation to the press or major announcement to the people of the Turks and Caicos worked to further fuel confusion and rumor. While it may have been labeled ‘party business’ the eventual winner will be a public servant, funded by the people’s purse.
The hush-hush tone of process has left some residents disappointed in the process of the governing party.
“At the end of the day, you will never know unless the voting public gets an opportunity to decide who should be their next leader.”
While Jas Walkin has reportedly been suspended from his job as the District Commissioner for North Caicos, E. Jay Saunders is still serving in his position as the deputy party leader, deputy premier and minister for finance, investment and trade – all of which are roles he holds at the pleasure of the Premier.
Failed PNP Leadership Bid; Will Saunders be sidelined, residents want to know
#TurksandCaicoisIslands, February 27, 2024 – It has been days now since an interesting challenge emerged at the Progressive National Party’s National General Congress (NGC), and many in the public continue to wait with bated breath to see what play Washington Misick, the TCI Premier and PNP Party Leader will make after a delegate-led motion revealed that his own deputy leader in the party and in governance was prepared to challenge him for the leader post.
Fifty-one-year-old, E. Jay Saunders chose to take a precarious path.
He did not register his interest in the leadership race ahead of the NGC and it meant that a motion, according to the PNP Constitution, had to be put forth and a vote had to be taken on whether his late bid would progress to the leadership ballot.
“There were delegates who were saying to me that they wanted to put my name up, I knew that. But I told them that the delegates needed to say on the floor what they wanted to do. If they did not want him to run again as leader, they needed to articulate that matter on the floor. I’m an instrument of my party,” said Saunders in the one on one interview this past Sunday.
The result was 58 delegates voting in support of a smaller minority requirement as sufficient to enter E. Jay Saunders into the race; 88 voted that Saunders would need a larger majority in order to have his name advanced.
News of the result spread like wildfire. It was explained that when E. Jay Saunders challenged Washington Misick for party leader and delegates had the chance to cast their votes, Misick came out with 88 for him and Saunders lost the race with 58 supporting his candidacy. But the PNP Deputy Leader and TCI Deputy Premier, E. Jay Saunders said that was not how events played out.
He said there was a misunderstanding of the process in that he was never able to get to the stage to challenge Washington Misick, directly for PNP leadership.
“So there was a debate on whether or not that motion to have me added was going to require two thirds majority or simple majority, like fifty percent plus one; and that motion failed, if that had passed it would have put me on the ballot. That motion failed, so everything stopped at that point,” explained Saunders.
While in-party challenges for the leadership position anywhere are notoriously risky, members of the public in the Turks and Caicos are glued to their seats, waiting for the next act in a production that could end in termination for Saunders, who took a big gamble hinged – in part – on PNP delegates’ prodding from the shadows.
“My concern was always that there was 40 percent of the people voted for an outcome, that means that there is a noise in the market that says we want change and I didn’t know what that number was until it was yesterday. But my view is that we would find out what that was, if that number was more than 50 percent then that means they want the future to start now, and I am ready. If that number was under 50 percent, as it turns out, it means that they don’t want the future to start now, but I am ready,” said Saunders in an interview with Magnetic Media.
Saunders’ campaign was a quiet one; and while it was a surprise for some, there were others who anticipated his aspirations; after all it was not his first time offering for party leader. There was no public mudslinging or disparaging campaigns run in the media by any of the three men who showed interest in taking over as leader of the government PNP. From Saunders, there was also no bold public pronouncement of what he wanted and he hoped to bring to the table if given the chance to lead his party; for some this was disappointing. Though his campaign was soft and legitimate, it is unclear if that lessens the sting or diminishes the fact that E. Jay wanted the job, the Premier currently has and obviously intends to hold onto.
Saunders confirmed that since the vote, things have been cordial and there had up to Sunday night been no talk between the men about what transpired at the NGC.
“We spoke yesterday; we did not speak about that. After it, we shook hands. We had small talk, the party had a social last night and we were in church today.”
The party attended Community Fellowship Centre church, where there was a special Women’s Day service featuring visiting gospel minister, Katherine Hamilton of The Bahamas. Saunders remarked on the video, which had been widely circulated and featured Minister Hamilton, standing before both men, with heartening words for the younger leader.
“I hear the Lord saying, ‘Learn as much as you can learn because your time is coming, it is coming but do not despise your time of preparation’; I hear Him saying: ‘Don’t allow anything to cause you to miss the lessons, many strengths, much wisdom, your time is coming’.”
Saunders, who is also the son of former party leader and former chief minister, Norman Saunders explained that nothing he did was outside of the party’s constitution.
“I believe I can lead the party today and into the future and I believe Washington can lead the party today, because obviously he is the leader. But the decision the delegates would need to make is do they want the future of the party to start in 2025 or do they want it to start in 2030; now, they chose to have the future of the party to start in 02030.”
The facts are now, Washington Misick, who is 73-years-old, will continue to lead the PNP and that includes into the next general election which is constitutionally slated for early 2025. A constitutional amendment now lengthens the term to five years for a ruling party to govern in the Turks and Caicos.
Saunders believes he still has work to do under the PNP Government Administration and hopes he is able to continue that work. Two of three of his public jobs are hinged however on the premier’s prerogative.
While Saunders would only lose his position as a Member of the House of Assembly if unseated by a candidate in a general election, it is a well-documented fact that the Progressive National Party does not vote for its deputy party leader, it is a position appointed by the party leader.
Similarly, E. Jay Saunders was given his Finance, Investment and Trade cabinet portfolio at the pleasure of the Premier.
With one cabinet minister already removed due a disagreement with Misick despite her prowess as a front bencher, the looming question is, will E. Jay Saunders face an identical fate. Washington Misick has made it clear that “I have a deep bench” and he could chose to play one of those members and sideline Saunders.
The Progressive National Party’s NGC was held on Saturday February 24, 2024 at the Shore Club in Providenciales, TCI, mere days after the party – on February 19 – marked three years since its 2021 landslide victory at the polls.
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