Questions are being raised about whether the swearing-in of the newly-elected leader of the Tobago Council of the People’s National Monument (PNM) Tracy Davidson-Celestine, as a councillor of the Tobago House of Assembly, has been stalled.
This after almost one week has passed since she was said to have taken up the position with no word on her appointment to the post.
At a joint press conference at the PNM’s Scarborough headquarters on February 11, outgoing THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles made two announcements concerning the future of the THA executive.
Charles firstly announced that he would step down from his post at the end of April this year and secondly that Davidson-Celestine, who sat with him at the head table during the event, would come on board on the first of March as a THA councillor.
He also said then that talks between himself and the new leader would take place regularly.
However, six days into March, Davidson-Celestine s yet to be sworn in as a councillor in the THA.
Tobago Today contacted the party’s Public Relations Officer, Kwesi Des Vignes on March 2, via WhatsApp, to ask whether Davidson-Celestine had been appointed yet.
Des Vignes was also asked if she had begun work as a councillor and if there would be a ceremony when she began her new portfolio.
He replied: “Not that I am aware of. You have to contact her directly.”
Tobago Today tried reaching the new PNM leader then via WhatsApp as well her cellular phone but all calls were unanswered. On Wednesday, we again sent a WhatsApp message to Davidson-Celestne, asking for a status update on her appointment. She replied: “Mr (Kelvin) Charles will be better able to provide answers as to the date of the swearing-in.”
When Charles was contacted via WhatsApp, however, he read the message but up to yesterday had not replied. When attempts were made to contact his office, we were told he was in a meeting.
Tobago Today consulted Stanley Beard, one of the architects of the THA Act of 1996, on whether Davidson-Celestine could begin any work as a councillor before being officially sworn in.
“That absolutely cannot happen. She must wait on the Chief Secretary to give the go-ahead for her to be sworn in before doing any work in that position,” said.
Beard, who helped fine-tune the THA Act, said the act is very clear about the matter.
“Councillors are in the Assembly at the behest of the Chief Secretary. Kelvin (Charles) has to rescind councillors and appoint a new councillor,” Beard, himself a former Assemblyman, said.
Reminded that former Health Secretary Dr Agatha Carrington had resigned as a councillor earlier this week, Beard said he it was still only up to the Chief Secretary to replace Carrington.
Davidson-Celestine beat Charles at the party’s internal run-off elections on January 26, 2020.
However, some members of the party were in favour of allowing Charles to complete his full term of office, which would have ended when the Assembly was dissolved for next year’s THA election.
However, the other side was in favour of Davidson-Celestine being allowed to start the process now by immediately replacing Charles as Chief Secretary.
The infighting eventually resulted in Charles announcing he would depart at the end of April.
But the process of who will become the THA Chief Secretary when Charles departs has still not been announced.